Homeschool Help: Curriculum Roundup for Kindergarten, 2nd and 4th Grades


Not sure about you but there is something about a new box of books or a stack of newly purchased school supplies that give me all the nostalgic happy feels that come with the approach of a new school year.

Everything is so fresh and crisp and clean… for at least a little while, right? ;)

As you have heard me talk about many a times on Instagram, I absolutely love Pam Barnhill’s Put Your Year on Autopilot course! She turned all of my thoughts into viable goals, and helped shape the heart and intention behind our homeschool. It was labor intensive for me - but worth every moment of it. This year when prepping for 2019-2020 school year I recently went back through and printed off new copies of the included PDF’s (she has it all, I’m telling ya) and have so enjoyed planning out our 2019-2020 school year. If you’ve not checked out her goods, start there. And then come back for our round up! (For a Pre-K, 1st & 3rd grade round up, check here)

**Edited to add: One of the many beauties of homeschooling is that I can see the strengths and weaknesses in each individuals’ learning ability and tailor each subject to them. You may notice my 2nd grader is heavier in the language arts — that’s intentional ;) I think of it as similar to the likes of remediation within a public or private school setting. Just an extra boost!


-The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts

-The Good and The Beautiful Math (**I LOVE Saxon but my just 5 year old needs something slightly less “school” looking as we ease into the structure for him. It’s so adorably written and perfectly pleasant for his little personality!)

-Zaner Bloser Handwriting

-Sonlight Readers/Teaching Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons

2nd Grade:

Saxon Math

Language Lessons for a Living Education

Writing With Ease

Spelling You See

Sonlight Readers

Classical Conversations Prescripts Intro to Cursive Letters/Handwriting Without Tears

4th Grade:

Saxon Math


Handwriting Without Tears

**For all three we will be using Classical Conversations’ history/geography/science/latin/english/fine arts as well as using’s grade specific book recommendations for subjects like nature study, literature, and digging slightly further into history. Much of these things will be incorporated into morning time. Pam Barnhill also makes excellent Morning Time Plans that coordinate well with Classical Conversations if you’re looking for something more structured!

Six Ways to Avoid Homeschool Burnout

Yesterday, after recognizing a minor mistake in an order I placed I felt so frustrated - it bubbled up over to my husband and onto my kids. It started to rob me of the joy in preparing for guests to come. It wasn’t the mistake that was the problem - it was the feeling like I cannot get anything completed without interruption. That underlying hint of recognizing there is very little margin in my day and week. I have strategies for making sure I have quiet time, and moments throughout the week to squeeze in a workout. But time to get things done uninterrupted, phone calls and returns, orders and writing. As homeschool parents, where do we get that? It wasn’t about the mistake - it was this nagging feeling of burnout.

Taking on the role of home educating on top of every other aspect of parenting is thrilling, encouraging, exhausting, stretching - and so much more. There’s such a joy in being home with my kids every day and witnessing those lightbulb moments. But there is also the nagging pressure of needing to do more, and that terribly long never-ending to-do list. Like, it literally never ends.

This is my fifth year homeschooling and I know this feeling that usually creeps up in February. I call it the February slump (you can read about it here). But really, no matter what month it is, there has to be a plan in place that is protecting our boundaries as an individual and ensuring that we don’t get sucked into the hole of being burnt out.

So how?

It will take shape differently for every family. But here are six strategies we’ve implemented over the past several years that you may find helpful when facing burnout and exhaustion in your homeschool year.

  1. Don’t wait until you get burnt out to take a break. Seriously.

  2. Prioritize time in your day not just your kids to have a break or downtime, but also yourself. A wise friend many years ahead of me in homeschooling still has all of her children, up to age 15, take a silent hour in the afternoons. She does whatever she wants during this time - and it’s a great reset. In our house we do a TV hour (and a half) so no one wakes up the baby, and save quiet reading hour for while I’m making dinner.

  3. Schedule time to get out of the house (or hole up in your bedroom) weekly or bimonthly that you value and prioritize. Life is busy and it has become the social norm to let your kids social lives and extracurricular activities takeover your week-month-year. But you have a choice to either let them - or not let them. My pastor shared last year “you prioritize what you plan and you plan for what you prioritize.” If time for yourself, running errands, mental break is important to you and your family - then make it happen! Open up your calendar with your spouse and pick some days and times that you can get away to a coffee shop ( me right now), go make all your returns, meal plan, call all the people, get your hair did, and then do it.

  4. Take time off of school. The blessing and curse of homeschooling is that it is always there. Mom guilt is a real thing. While everyone else is having a snow day or celebrating President’s Day, it’s easy to want to just keep going. But you don’t have to. You could take an entire month off and chances are you’d still be on track. And if not, there is always time to make it up. So go ahead and plan for days and weeks off regularly to give your mind and family a break.

  5. Come up with a list of things you absolutely enjoy in your homeschool day, and then delight in those things regularly. Take field trips if that’s your jam (it’s not mine. I find them stressful and exhausting.). Paint, craft, read aloud, bake… set aside the text books and allow for margin to pursue the things that bring beauty and delight into your home.

  6. Homeschool Conferences. This isn’t a plug for homeschool conventions, I promise. But I have found them to be so life giving. The fellowship with other women, listening to encouragers and teachers pour into YOU; often times they fall in early spring when our hearts are in need of pouring in! If you have an opportunity to go to one, I highly highly recommend it. If you don’t have anyone to watch your kids, GHC offers an affordable Kids Camp! And if cost is an issue, GHC has volunteer hours to offset expenses.

What are your biggest hurdles when it comes to carving out time for yourself? What are some ways you’ve learned to combat the homeschool burnout?

Raising Readers and Finding the Right Curriculum

With every year we homeschool, I’m continually reminded of how incredibly different each child learns. I have so. much. respect. for teachers who have the brave and unprecedented task of teaching a classroom full of kindergarteners and first graders how to read.

My firstborn was a rule follower through and through. He still navigates most tasks in this way: give me book and a list of rules, and I will get it done. Widdling. Piano. Baseball. Clearly stated expectations that produce a clearly explained result is his jam. Which made teaching him how to read relatively uneventful. Boring, but uneventful.

My second born :) is not. He is artistic and creative. Picture smart. Would rather spend his time inventing and doodling than putting sounds together in an appropriate order to create a word. This has made reading lessons incredibly challenging and sometimes frustrating. But we pushed through, finally threw out How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and went straight to sight words and Bob Books. It worked, but I wouldn’t say it was one of our most beloved subjects tackled together.

Then there is number three who is begging to be included in all things school, desperately wants to read and write, but has a very limited attention span when it comes to structured lessons. However!

I recently got my hands on a new [to me] curriculum that has far exceeded my expectations and blown wind in my sails as I suit up to teach another child to read (it’s no joke, mamas - am I right?!). ABC See, Hear Do is the most multi-faceted reading program I’ve gotten my hands on and it is a real joy to incorporate into our school day. Starting with book one, each lesson and group of letter sounds comes with hand motions and adorably illustrated pictures to help remember each sound. There are also flashcard downloads that accompany each book. What surprised me is that after a mere 4 minutes working on our first 4 letter cards + sounds, my preschooler was able to put the sounds together for the list words. It really is remarkable! Ok, also a surprise, my son wants to keep going and going and going even after the lessons are wrapped up for the day. So many wins all around. And also, I am not sure there are many things cuter than little kid voices, putting new sounds together, using hand motions for each of those sounds :) That might actually be my favorite part and we may or may not have a few videos of a certain little boy reading while using said hand motions.

I was recently chatting with a mom who had reached a point of incredible frustration over reading lessons. She said, “But we have to at least finish the book… we can’t get this far and not finish the curriculum.” And to that, mama’s, I say: YES. YOU. CAN. If it isn’t working, if it’s not enjoyable, if it is just a pain in your rear end…get rid of it and move along. Find something that fits for you and your child - and don’t worry about finishing a book for the sake of finishing a book. If you’re looking to switch it up, reach out to Stephanie over at ABC See, Hear, Do. Peruse her various levels and read a little more about why she created this curriculum. I think you’ll be delighted with what you find!

*this post is in collaboration with ABC See, Hear, Do.

Spring Reads Bundle


Does anyone else have a budget line item for books? We love love love gathering around beautiful books and these do not disappoint. Not to mention - get the whole bundle for less than $50 … which has me dreaming up all the adorable gift baskets to be made 😍

Check out some of our favorite spring reads that make gathering around a book fun for all littles in your home!

The Tale of Three Trees, retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents by Lita Judge

A Perfect Day for Digging by Cari Best

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss

**We absolutely love The Little Lamb and the rest in the series but they are so hard to come by. Amazon sells some, but I’d also recommend local thrift and used book stores.

Audio Books + Free Trial!

This week I am packing up and heading to The GHC (The Great Homeschool Convention) next week! This will be the first time that I’m taking the kids… if there were ever a homeschool stereotype… 😂

In all seriousness, I am excited to go and the kids are excited about camp. And my husband is super excited to renovate our master bathroom without any distraction ;)

I’ve rounded up a few favorite audio books for me and the kids - we surely won’t get to them all this time around. Several of these have a great discount right now if you have an Audible membership. If not, now is a great time to get one! Use this link to get a Free 30-Day trial + 2 Free Audiobooks!

For Me:

Start with the Heart: How to Motivate Your Kids by Kathy Koch(Such a great read!!)

Becoming Michelle Obama (Because was there ever such class?)

Thomas Jefferson Education (remember: homeschool convention 😆)

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller <—it is just so good!

A Light in the Window And just for fun when my brain is ready for a break 😉

For the Kids:

The Railway Children

Curious George

Mercy Watson

Pete the Cat

Equipping and Preparing Your Kids in the Age of Technology

Amidst the most wonderful and joyous times of parenting, sandwiched in between a whole lot of exhaustion, can also lie the terrifying reality that our sweet and precious babies are entering a really scary world. One of the best things we can do for our children is to prepare them for uncomfortable situations, normalize sexual discussion in a SAFE context, and be available to talk through and answer the not so comfortable questions.

Amanda’s background in social work has given her a keen ability to navigate the elementary, pre-teen and teen years with extreme grace and awareness, while also daily purposing to equip and prepare her kids for challenging, unsafe, and sometimes scary situations all of our children will likely face at some point in their lives.

We have found these books to be extremely helpful in approaching hard conversations in easy-to-grasp language and helping get the conversations started in preparing and equipping your kids.

*The book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures, is a helpful tool that provides a way to have a conversation that could be difficult or challenging with your children. It is a tool, and therefore, you as the parent can decide what age and how much of the book is best to use. My husband and I both read it and we plan to read it with our children individually to provide them each with space to ask questions and to process with us. It seems most suited for our older children, who are upper elementary and middle school age, both male and female. We will wait to read it with our younger boys for another year or more. In my opinion it is a great resource that explains things and the effects of sin and pornography that brings light to the subject and empowers us and our children to walk in the light.

Should I Homeschool My Kids?

Ah, what a question! If you’ve landed here, you’ve considered homeschooling to some extent and I’m so glad you’ve popped by. Today I’m sharing with you the story of my dear friend, Tiffany. By God’s kindness I ran into her at a Chick Fil A during our first winter living in the Midwest. I could pick her southern accent out from across the restaurant - I felt a sense of kindred spirits almost immediately. Today she is a dear and treasured friend, who feels more like family. Her daily pursuit of Christ is a constant encouragement to me. She shares how, as a former teacher, she learned to embrace the idea of homeschooling as the Lord led - and let go of the pressures a lot of us often ask ourselves. I think you will be encouraged!


Hi, I’m Tiffany..

and I have a hybrid home! Seriously, when Lily first messaged me with the name and inspiration behind this lovely space I thought, ‘Nailed it!’ It’s me. It’s most of the mamas I know trying to live this life well.

My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years and we have three kids. Once upon a time, I was a teacher. I taught 1st and 3rd grades in a public school stateside and on a military base overseas. My husband and I both attended public schools growing up and believed we could educate and disciple our children by allowing them to do the same. If I’m being totally honest, we felt like parochial schools and homeschooling sheltered children too much and we’d have to be in a really bad school system to entertain either idea. Oh boy! “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

Fast forward a few years and we started the journey of public school with our children. My son attended a preschool, then our public half-day kindergarten, and then first grade. I loved it, he loved it—we were feeling great in our schooling decision. Second grade was…different. There were red flags with his attitude, behavior, spiritual growth, peers, teacher, and academic performance. He would come home almost every afternoon and have a complete meltdown. He was a hot mess and it made me sad and miserable. Looking back now I can say that I was losing his heart! There just wasn’t enough time after school and activities to nurture and train him. We were all struggling—it was definitely affecting our entire family. 

The worst part was I felt stuck. How could I carve out more time with him when we had made the decision to send him to public school? It was all or nothing right? I was NOT like my wonderful, creative, super-smart friend with endless patience who homeschooled her boys while going for hikes in the sun and snow!

Of course, the Lord was orchestrating His perfect plan. A couple of years earlier I met Lily at Chick-Fil-A. We were both Southern girls living in the Midwest and we both had three small kids. Oh, and we look a little bit like sisters. She homeschooled and I didn’t. We exchanged numbers that day and now she is a dear friend. 

Half way through my son’s second grade year when my concerns were really coming to the surface, we had a playdate with Lily and her crew. I shared my heart and she challenged me to continue to pray and listen to that still small voice. She said if you don’t have peace about registering your kids for full-time public school next year, don’t do it yet. We talked about the option of homeschooling and she made me realize that there was not one specific way to do it. I didn’t have to be all in or all out. 

I mean, folks, that’s pretty basic advice, right? However, I was completely blinded to other possibilities; partly because of my fears, but also because I just didn’t think it was possible to overcome all of the hurdles. How would I know where to start without the school curriculum I’d been given when I taught? How would my extroverted son be able to interact with peers on a regular basis if he wasn’t in school? Would our school dissuade me? What would we do if it was a total flop and he needed go back to school? Even if we made it a full year homeschooling, how would be able to ease back in without any trouble? Would this be too disruptive for him and for our family?

For every thought and fear, I was sure that God was affirming the decision to homeschool my son, but not my daughter. I felt a peace about sending her for the half-day kindergarten program in our district. My youngest was just turning three and not in school yet. My husband, who had not previously wanted to entertain the idea of homeschooling, was completely on board. Our principal encouraged me to do it and said the school would support us if my son still wanted to come for some classes. We also joined a co-op with friends, when we were initially told it was full and we needed to look elsewhere. 

So how did it go? What was it like for the former school teacher and mama who was used to sending her kids to school to be thrust into the world of homeschooling? Well, it was overwhelming and also the absolute best thing. I chose to obey the Lord’s calling and He showed up daily in big and small ways. More of Jesus! That is what we needed—that is what we received! I read 2 Corinthians 12:9 with an all new appreciation, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 

At times we butted heads and struggled because I had to be mom and teacher. Once or twice, I may have said, “I have a master’s degree in education.” The hard façade that built up over the previous year melted away. Multiple friends and his even Sunday School teacher commented that they noticed him softening. My son, who had commented the previous year that he wasn’t sure God was real, said that he wished his school friends could go to his co-op so they could learn that God was in everything. 

We spent a year really slowing down and focusing on the things that interested him. Plenty of lazy mornings at home in our pajamas. We read a lot. We snuggled on the couch and got lost in Farmer Boy and Om-Kas-Toe. He mastered the US map and presidents, as well his multiplication tables. His little sister was still around and demanding requiring attention—but he got way more one-on-one time than he’d received since his younger siblings were born. His love tank was full.

I love the promise in Deuteronomy 7:9, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Perhaps one of the most beautiful things to come out of last year is the peace in my heart that God is indeed a promise keeper. His love for my children is far greater and more perfect than my own. We pray with and for them, teach them about God’s amazing love in sending Jesus, and teach them about the reality and pain of sin. We stand in the gap and pray with hope that they will have hearts for Jesus. Spending more time with my son gave me more time to see the work God was doing. I do not have to fear every act of disobedience! I’m parenting their hearts, not their actions. Proverbs 4:23, “Guard you heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Oh, and my son still sinned plenty even in a homeschool “bubble.” 

He is now back at school in 4th grade and doing great. He no longer has meltdowns after school! His teacher emailed me recently and said that he is making excellent choices at school, both academically and socially. We have little heart-to-hearts several nights a week while he is snuggled in bed. Sometimes it’s just a chat about video games, but other times we have talked about things kids have said and done at school that he didn’t agree with or understand. By God’s grace, I am able to listen and talk and pray with him without a paralyzing fear of our culture or his future. 

Another beautiful thing to come from last year is the opportunity to encourage other moms within our public school community and empower them to do what is best for their kids as well. I have had several phone conversations and coffee chats. For one friend that has meant pulling her son out as well to homeschool him in 3rd grade. For another friend that has meant speaking up and being a stronger advocate for her daughter within the school system.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” I do not know what the future holds for our kids’ education, but I am more confident than ever before that as my husband and I lean into Him, God will lead us and give us the means to get through each year. We will pray each year leading up to registration time and follow God’s call for the next year.

I struggle with that first step of faith. I’d rather not even try than fail! Oh, but friends, I choke on tears as I think about God’s goodness to my family in the last year. My prayer for you is peace in the decisions you’re making for your children’s education and courage to step out on faith if God is calling you to something new.

March Together Time!


I’m not sure where you live, but over here we are looking at more snow, more ice and more cold. But that doesn’t stop us from at least thinking about all the lovely sounds and colors coming our way in a month or two!

This month I’ve teamed up with the ever so precious and endearing Carla, from Everyday Learn & Play, to bring you all the goodies for your March Morning Basket! Remember, these aren’t intended to replace your current choices, but something to spice it up and add seasonal related activities such as STEM, Art Study, Nature Study, read alouds and a monthly scripture print. You can read more about the heart behind it here.

To get your 50% off coupon to Everyday Learn & Play AND download your free copy of the March Together Time insert fill out the form below!

Name *

Incorporating Chores and Responsibilities into your Homeschool Day + FREE Printable Chore Chart


I wrote out a couple paragraphs on why it is so great to have the whole family involved in chores, making sure everyone is contributing and how awesome it is. However, I just reread all of that and laughed out loud. Let’s be honest. I am home with my kids all day - er’yday. I cannot do it all. It is messy. And at times chaotic. The amount of mess that can be made in the first 35 minutes of our day amazes me every.single.time. I can clean every single toilet in the house only to find every single toilet occupied approximately 3 minutes later. If I did all the tidying and cleaning around here no one would have an education or get fed, and that’s a large part of my job sooooo. We do responsibility and chore charts. I need things to be tidy and clean to stay sane, and I also want my kids to take ownership, learn to contribute, and grow in responsibility. The end!

It isn’t glamorous or picturesque. There are two kids in the family that take for-ev-er to get dressed and moving in the morning, and a husband that notoriously leaves his clothes laying right next to the laundry basket (mentioned with his permission). I have grumblers and complainers, lots of out-loud wondering about why beds have to be made if they’re just going to get unmade again… (sidenote: in response to said complaint, I kindly brought up the fact that studies show people who make their beds are actually more productive in a day. My eldest responds, verbatim, “Well yea that’s because they’ve literally already started with one extra chore in a day.” Fair point.)

But we keep going and keep doing because by golly we can do unpleasant and hard things.

There are a gazillion chore charts out there, and some great ones at that! I’ve found it helps for our family to break things down into two categories for each person based on age/stage:

1) Daily Responsibilities: getting dressed, making bed, brushing teeth, wiping down bathroom, taking out recycling, tidying up room, combing hair, silverware away, setting the table, etc.

2) Weekly Chores: taking trash to curb, dusting baseboards, taking laundry downstairs, vacuuming, etc.

Daily responsibilities happen every day - Weekly chores are specific to which day they need to be done. As in, they don’t take the trash to the curb every day. I throw these printables into sheet protectors so they can be easily modified and kids can quickly check them off as they go about their day/week. We also don’t pay for everything - responsibilities are just a basic fact of life. Their chores count towards a small commission each week (We love Dave Ramsay’s kid’s version —> Mission to Commission!).

So if you’re looking for a tool to use to keep your kids on track without having to direct and answer everything all the time, while instilling responsibility and helpful habits, I hope these are a blessing to you!! Just click the link below and you’ll be able to download the file. There are two different versions, a 5-day and 3-day weekly chores option.




Fill out the form below to download!

Name *

Raising Readers

I often joke with my husband that there should be some kind of reward for ME every time one of my sons learns to read. Everyone celebrates the child, as they should, but like … as hard as it was for them, can I just maybe be honest in that IT IS JUST AS HARD FOR ME to not loose my cool when they get the word cat wrong for the 14th straight day in a row?! SHEW it is a C-H-O-R-E, let me tell you - one I am thankful for and really do love getting to witness in regards to progress. But gracious goodness was there ever a trial in patience than sitting down with a wiggly little boy trying to get them to sit down for a measly five minutes and work through a reading lesson. It is a little bit like wrangling and octopus with 27 arms.

One way we’ve eased into learning to read is to instill a love of reading at a young age.

Here are 5 ways to help raise readers and teach children to love reading:

  1. Books. Lots of Books. Everywhere. At every age. Simple enough, right? Starting young, make books the norm. Books in the bedroom, in the car, by the mantle, at the kitchen table. Having books around is literally the first step to instilling a habit of book reading as enjoying and entertaining.

  2. Go to the library! Don’t wait for your children to ask to go to the library, just do it. Make it a part of your weekly or monthly schedule. Sign up for classes and let them peruse at their own pace; Let them get a library card at a young age and fill up their own bags.

  3. Ditch the electronics. This is a constant battle, especially when places (such as the library) have them on display and preloaded with apps for kids. HOWEVER. If a child walks into a room and they have to choose between a book and a tablet, they will 9/10 choose the tablet. If a child walks into a room and there is no tablet - or xbox - or kindle - or iPhone - or computer - OR there are parameters on said electronics - then the child isn’t going to choose what’s not available :) In common areas of rest/relaxing, offer books instead of screens! Perusing pictures is just as satisfying for the non reader as diving into a 500 page novel for the thriving reader.

  4. Read aloud, often. As kids get older and more capable of reading on their own I find I have to remind myself that my fluent readers enjoy being read to, also. Almost every night when I am found reading to my preschooler, even books the olders have heard time and time again, I am left with more than just one child listening in to the bedtime stories. Sarah MacKenzie offers great monthly read aloud lists that are delivered directly to your inbox, as well as an entire list of boy-friendly books for every age group. These are great to have on hand say, in a waiting room, during snack time, while you’re waiting for dinner to finish.

  5. Let them choose content. To be honest, this is a hard one for me. I do not love reading Ninjago books aloud, nor do I really enjoy reading through insect encyclopedias. But letting children choose their areas of interest will engage your learner and give them the desire to pick up their books in passing and during down time. It’s important especially in the young and developing reader that they are not be forced to read things that are downright torturous to them. For one of my sons, reading anything unrealistic is absurd. For another, the more outrageous and impossible the better. Letting them choose gives them ownership, excitement and develops curiosity.

    *I will often check out several children’s books for my children every week. I try to find things that interest them or maybe something I’d like them to explore more to pique a new interest.

*A resource we’ve continually referred back to for reading lists and wholesome children’s series is Honey for a Child’s Heart.


Pre-K, 1st & 3rd Grade Homeschool Roundup


The only way I’ve managed to get this far in homeschooling is by picking the brains of other homeschool mamas. Linking arms - and blogs - with other homeschooling women offers perspective, tools, and so much grace. It helps us to think outside of our own box, or maybe offers us freedom to create something new altogether. My prayer in offering this to you is just to show another way of doing things. It’s not better than, but it is a best fit for our family right now!



This Reading Mama, “Reading the Alphabet”

One plus One plus One Alphabet printables

Matching workbook


Read alouds


1st Grade:

Sonlight 2nd Grade Readers

Saxon 2

First Language Lessons 1/2

Explode the Code 2

A Reason for Handwriting

*Classical Conversations Geography

*Story of the World

*Apologia: Botany


3rd Grade:

Sonlight Grade 4 Readers (we did half last year, half this year and do not read aloud every day)

Saxon 5/4 + Life of Fred

First Language Lessons 3

Fix it Grammar

Explode the Code

Handwriting with Ease, cursive

Lifepac Geography Grade 3

*Classical Conversations Geography

*Story of the World

*Apologia: Botany


*these subjects are combined with all ages, even the pre-ker ever now and then.

For tips on scheduling, check out how we used Block Scheduling this year!

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade Roundup

Woo!  May is here which means school is almost not here - or maybe it's already left your house for the summer :)  Either way, we are celebrating with completing books, finishing up our tests and looking back on goals planned and now achieved.  

Which inevitably means - time to look at options for next year!  As registrations quickly approach along with all those terrific homeschool resale pop-ups I thought I'd offer a peek into what our kindergarten and 2nd grade roundup look like.  

If you are new to homeschooling or just getting your feet wet with the idea - be encouraged: It does not have to be hard.  You don't have to compete with the school system at large; you get to choose what works best for YOU and YOUR family!  You get to use all the "transition time" that takes up a large portion of the public school day and let them learn at their own pace, pursue their personal interests, help them catch up in areas of weakness, challenge their strengths and offer them a taste of truth, goodness and beauty in the every day.  

So on to the good stuff....

Kindergarten!  About 45 minutes - 1 hour a day of direct one-on-one teaching time...

Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting

Math - Saxon 1

Reading: started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons then eventually moved on to any level one readers from the library

Spelling - All About Spelling

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 - incorporated during our morning time, copy work found on Half A Hundred Acre Word and several fill in the blank options from CC Connected

The End :) 


Second Grade: About 1 1/2-2 hours of direct one-on-one teaching time

Handwriting - started with a Reason for Handwriting cursive; wasn't a great fit this year so we switched to Handwriting Without Tears and it's been a night and day difference.  

Math- Saxon 3 (finished up from last year) and Intermediate Saxon 4

Reading - Sonlight Readers - they offer a great online assessment to evaluate which level to pursue with your reader; the chapters for 4th Grade increased significantly in length so we followed our own schedule and will finish these through the summer.  

Spelling - Sequential Spelling

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 - incorporated during our Morning Time, copy work found on Half a Hundred Acre Wood and several fill in the blank options from CC Connected

Language Arts - Writing With Ease (we stopped after week 24; it wasn't a favorite for both of us and we were able to incorporate similar ideas and concepts in our other books) & First Language Lessons 3 (this is going to last us through next year as well so we only did about 2 lessons a week after we got into the diagramming of sentences).

History - LifePac Grade 3


That's really all there is to it!  The kids get science, art & PE at our co-ops, and we will use Apologia Science Jr Notebook Journal for our summer studies.  Of course there are plenty of games, lots of reading aloud, music studies and all the things that make up our school day that can't be quantified into a textbook.  That's the beauty and hybrid bit of homeschool for us!  

If you're looking for an idea of a daily schedule, visit this post, Our Loose Homeschool Schedule 




School Lunch Simplified + FREE Printable

What is it about packing lunches that just sucks?  Is it all the options?  See Variety Is A Ploy of the Devil...Or the whole making it through the day, feeding people, cleaning up from the day only to get out stuff for the next day and make another mess in the kitchen?  My mind is ready to shut down at just the point it needs to make yet another 3-5 decisions for 3-5 people and I just want to be done!

Here are some tips, and super easy lunch box ideas to help you out this week:

1. Keep. It. Simple.  As much as I feel like my love and parenting ability is wrapped up in what this lunch is is not and I can stick to what I know and what I know they like.  

2. Ditch the Bread.  Making sandwiches can be on of my most dreaded chores of packing 5 lunches for the kids.  But giving them a roll up or just some meat and cheese with or without crackers (similar to a lunchable minus the price and packaging) accomplishes the same thing: main meal.

3. Eliminate all the options.  I grew up on the same lunch, 5 days a week with maybe a slight variation in my chips or dessert option.  Granted, it was in the days when peanut butter and cheetos were allowed in school, but here I am no worse for the wear.  It's ok to not ask your kids what they want for lunch every single day.  

4.  Stick to a few basics.  There are a couple of items I pack in their lunch boxes nearly every single day.  Such as a granola bar, applesauce, a fruit cup, and a piece of fresh fruit.  

5. Invest in a decent water bottle for each child and give them only water.  I occasionally buy the mix-in flavors so they feel like they are having something special.  

6. A few inexpensive, simply divided containers make the packing that much easier and clean up a breeze.  A few favorites are listed below and don't portion of your child's education fund.

7. When all else fails, no one ever died from eating 1 lunchable a week.  

A few of Amanda & Lily's Go-To's:

*it should be noted that Amanda is the most reliable source when it comes to lunch packing.  Lily makes packed lunch 1-2 days a week which is enough to send her into a tizzy and be known for avoiding it all together by bringing a bag of popcorn and sack of apples to share on the floor of the gym...

Water water water

Rollups: 1) meat & cheese, 2) peanut butter & nutella, 3) peanut butter & jelly, 4) peanut butter & honey, 5) cream cheese & avocado, 6) cream cheese + shredded cheese

DIY Lunchable: Crackers, sliced cheese, sliced meat or pepperoni

Pita Chips + to-go hummus

Side ideas that don't involve much prep work and can be thrown into those containers mentioned above: apples, clementines, carrots, cucumbers, squeeze applesauce, frozen yogurt tube (usually thawed by lunchtime), granola bar, grapes, mini bell peppers, fruit cups, popcorn

And sometimes just for fun, I throw in a little something special that makes the kids smile.  Maybe their favorite cookie or a simple hershey kiss.  


To Download a FREE School Lunch: Simplified printable with over 3000 lunch combinations, all on one page, fill out the form below.

Name *

An Open Letter to Homeschool Moms During the Month of February

Dear fellow homeschool mamas,

I see you.  You’re looking at this 2018 calendar wondering how on earth is it only February 1st.  Have we REALLY got another 3 ½ months left of this??  

There is this funny thing that happens to some of us during the month of February - sometimes called the winter slump.  School seems impossible.  Raising kids, out the window.  The cold weather looms and all of your curriculum choices are horrible; you can’t believe you ever attempted this math book let alone tried to teach more than one kid!  Who ever thought of this crazy idea to homeschool anyway.  Surely it wasn’t your idea.  So long schedules; goodbye productivity.  You’re ready to wave that white flag high in the air and send all of your kids to public school for the remainder of the year.  That’ll teach em!  

But before you keep trodding down that path - or maybe before you even start… here are a few things others have taught me and I’ve found to be true myself.

  1. Don’t make any rash decisions about your curriculum for the month of February.

  2. Do not make any major change decisions about the following school year during the month of February.

  3. Take a break from school if needed and come back full steam ahead in March.

  4. Go back and re-read all the reasons why you’ve chosen to homeschool and make a list of all the goals you HAVE attained, both relationally and academically.  I bet there are more wins than it feels at this exact moment.

  5. Bake some cookies.  Brownies.  Loaves of banana bread.  A lot of them.  Every day, if necessary.  They drastically change the mood of most situations, as do hot chocolate and breakfast outings to Chick Fil A.  

  6. Find your tribe and stick together; meet up with friends at the local museum.  Have friends over for lunch.  Sign up for all the things at your local library, but whatever you do, don’t stay secluded!

  7. If you are not one of those mamas that goes through a February slump - find one that does and love on her extra big!

So ladies, be encouraged that February is a short month.  28 days, in fact.  With a little help from those adorable Pinterest Valentine’s Day math printables and a few extra play dates, you can do this!  Am I right??




Lucy and la petite nouvelle

***Scroll to bottom for giveaway information***

This post is especially near and dear to my heart, not just as the daughter-in-law of this featured author, but also as a mom who so desires to instill a love of reading in the core of our home and hearts.  Quality books are something we are constantly looking for and we all love the ability to let our imaginations soar in an endearing series.  My talented and creative mother in law wrote and published her first book in a five part series that has captured our boys hearts and left them expectantly waiting for the next release.  It was fun to take a moment to hear where her love of reading and writing began as well as what she has to say to moms who are hoping to encourage a love of reading in their little ones' lives as well.  Read the interview below and take a look at the book on Amazon!

Able to purchase on Amazon or directly from the publisher at

Able to purchase on Amazon or directly from the publisher at

When did your love of writing begin to take shape?  What were your favorite books growing up?  Were you always an avid reader or did that come later in life?

As an elementary student, in the school library I felt like “a kid in a candy shop”. We didn’t have books at home besides schoolbooks.  Historical biographies and mysteries were the genres that I mostly focused my attention toward.  I loved reading about historical figures such as Paul Revere, the Green Mountain Boys, Betsy Ross, and others. Literature classes in high school and college brought a much broader selection of prose, such as Cat’s Cradle, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and the Agatha Christie mysteries. I enjoyed reading books for pleasure much more than as a school requirement, but they all helped to build vocabulary, spur on imagination, and widen my horizons immensely. My love of writing began in high school when I enrolled in a creative writing class. The teacher motivated the students with her fascinating style and ability to paint pictures with words.  Writing became the outlet I needed to express my thoughts.

 What inspired Lucy and la petite nouvelle?

The Front Porch Diaries series was inspired by the many afternoons I spent sitting on the front porch of our family house, reading books and daydreaming about the future. Moving to different parts of the country because of my husband’s job advancements afforded our family a plethora of adventures, both in daily living and meeting people from all walks of life. Books continue to be of great value to me.  I love to read from new and veteran authors alike to stimulate my imagination and creativity. The first book of the Diaries series, Lucy and la petite novelle (the newcomer), comes directly from some of my childhood experiences. The setting for these books is a Midwest town in the mid-1960s. The main characters, Lucy Miller and her brother Eddie, meet new acquaintances from another country. This opportunity brings some perplexing and maturing episodes between Lucy, her school friends, and her new companion, Simone.

The second and third books of The Front Porch Diaries take Lucy and Eddie Miller and their newfound friends, Simone and Philippe, on more exciting, yet challenging adventures. Volume 2 revolves around wintertime and the Christmas holiday break, and Volume 3’s main emphasis is a two-week stay for Lucy and Simone at Grandpa and Grandma Miller’s farm. The reader will learn some simple French phrases, and discover a few historical details about the Sixties era. These books are wholesome and interesting for youngsters of all ages and are suitable chapter books for fourth through eighth grade readers.

As a mom and now beloved "Nana" to five grandchildren, what encouragement and wisdom do you have for parents in instilling a love of reading in their children?  

Early on, both my husband and I spent time reading to our young children nearly every evening. From simple Golden Books with lots of pictures and easy to understand stories to reading Value Books about character traits of famous people, as young children both our son and daughter developed a love for learning. Our daughter was an avid book enthusiast, especially as a preteen and young teenager. Our son enjoyed focusing more on hands-on projects. Not every child will develop a love for reading at the same pace or to the same level, but nurturing this gift is so much easier if adults introduce and encourage reading early in a child’s life. For children and grandchildren alike, reading not only teaches and reinforces ideas, but also enhances their learning by increasing imagination and creativity.  In play and teamwork, reading helps to develop greater focus and problem-solving ability. Reading can generate a peaceful atmosphere and transport a child’s mind to imaginative places.

In this day of electronic everything, I would encourage moms and dads to model for your children how enjoyable reading can be, and the comfort that a book brings, by curling up in your favorite chair and reading. Peruse through the books before your child reads them, and question your child about the stories afterward. You will be amazed by their creativity.  Just think what a hero you could become to your child by starting when they are little ones! Instill a love of reading for a lifetime.  

Oh, the stories they will tell!

What is your hope for readers when they pick up this series?

I hope to teach children to appreciate diverse cultures and people.  Another objective for writing these books is simply to let the reader see siblings and friends that love, support and have fun with each other despite their differences. 


Author Judith Grimme

Author Judith Grimme

Judith Grimme received her degree in Sociology from Colorado State University. Early memories of a relative, who served as a Catholic nun in Bolivia, as well as their own experiences serving in the mission field in such countries as Canada, Romania, Slovenia, Madagascar, Panama, and El Salvador, fueled Judith's passion for helping people learn to appreciate other cultures, a theme that runs throughout the Front Porch series.

Grimme grew up in the 1960s and 70s in a small town outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. With farms surrounding their family home and plenty of siblings and neighbor children to play with, most of the stories in The Front Porch Diaries come directly from her childhood experiences. She intentionally depicts strong, healthy families, communities, and childhood friendships.



**In order to be entered to win a FREE autographed copy of this book, share this post on any social media account!  Winner will be announced on Sunday, January 28!!**

Those Early Years - Part 2

As mentioned last week, there is just all the grace and flexibility in the world to let those little years stay filled with wonder and discovery.  The way we approach “school” during the four-five years involve a lot of hands-on, everyday life with a seasonal stack of “extras” that might include cut and paste, sorting, tracing, early handwriting, etc.  If it gets by us one day, or a week, there is no stress.  If there is extra interest and excitement to do more in one day, then we do more.  But for the most part, I follow their pace.

*for one of my children’s Pre-K Year I did intentionally try and have him complete one or two school related tasks a day.  The only purpose of this was to instill in him the habit of listening to my teaching and understanding that there are set expectations for school; it had very little to do with academics.  

*We are also part of a co-op that starts at age 4; We don’t do much with review until their second year, but they retain so much of it anyways!  Review time is always incorporated as a family and largely led by books we check out that pertain to the material.  

Here we go!  

Favorite Curriculum & Websites

**again, used loosely.  I print things off monthly and keep a big stack in a folder for each age and pull out as desired.  


This Reading Mama

Read Aloud Revival

 We love Zaner Bloser for beginning handwriting and their 1st book is a great start.  That could be a post in and of itself - reading and writing and when to start.  


Favorite Toys for Pre-K:

Dollar Tree Buys:

Corn and beans in a tray or small bin

Pom Poms to sort, put in and out of containers, etc.

Pipe Cleaners with letter beads

**I made a ton of busy bags one time for my first born; but was reminded that boys are just a little different when it comes to quiet time play and almost everything I made was either destroyed or reconstructed to be something else, so I let that one go...  





Those Early Years - Part 1

Once upon a time I had a baby.  Who turned into a sentence speaking 18 month old that turned into a 3 year old reader who then started computing multiplication in his head around 4, reading through the Bible around 5 and completed his first boxed set of novels just before 6.  His drive and focus was amazing and sometimes overwhelming.  He was so busy - he never slept.  In fact I’ve just now surrendered my 7 year battle of trying to get him to sleep more :)  He is who he is.  I also have a precious almost 6 year old who cannot get his b's and d's sorted out to save his life.  He sees everything in shapes and colors, what it could be instead of what it actually is.  He spends most of his time creating and dreaming, living outside of any sort of proverbial box and it's amazing and wonderful.  He's taught me a lot about slowing down and savoring.  My 3rd born is a unique and incredible mix of the two, who keeps us laughing/crying on a daily basis.

But I remember approaching those preschool years with my firstborn and feeling a lot of pressure to dive into homeschooling - because we could.  He was ready.  I was ready, I thought.  And we’d just spent the past four years playing, puzzling, reading, field tripping, walking and talking and doing all the things.  And really, I found schooling, curriculum shopping, all the extra reading and researching so much fun.  There is so much to look at and choose from and such great resources available right at your fingertips; Unit studies, coloring packs, busy bags galore.  All the seasonal crafts you can think of are just right there!  The eagerness and excitement of starting something new and setting up “school” just seemed fun.  

I am thankful we started when we did, and how we did and the things we chose to do.  But in my few years of parenting, and then diving into it again with my second born, I am just so thankful for the freedom homeschool affords; and if I could impart any wisdom or have the opportunity to encourage any new mamas out there with preschoolers and kindergarteners on their hands...this would be my list of top ten things to remember….

-DO play.  For me, that sounded dreadful.  What on earth had I been doing the past four years?  I was played out.  But every study under the sun shows the benefits of early play - even into ages 6, 7, 8 and 9.  Let those littles create, dream up and think to their hearts content.  **for those busier bodies that go from one thing to the next, structured play and sticking to a loose schedule is so helpful!

- DON’T over plan.  They are just so young!  Know your personality type - but also know the personality types of your kids.  I am a planner to my core, but not all of my kids thrive at the same pace or in the same box that I do.  Leave them space to explore at their own pace, even if it looks so much different than yours.

- Less. Is. More.  Our natural inclination is to give our kids the best this world has to offer; All the electives, all the classes, all the sports, all the books and experiences.  Academically speaking, children don’t need unit studies and tidy curriculum packages at this age.  They need structure and they need to know what to expect but ditch the busy work and extracurriculars to let them be.  

-Ditch the electronics.  If your house is anything like mine, there is a magical thing that happens when an electronic device come out: peace. And. quiet.  Mama gets a break.  Free babysitting.  But these are such precious years to instill self control and wise decision making; if you give a child the choice between playing/reading on a tablet or building with blocks or legos, they will of course gravitate towards the tablet!  But as educational as those apps claim to be, nothing...noth-ing… compares to the hands-on play time at such a young age.  

***I want to be clear here, life happens in seasons.  And if you find yourself in a season needing those moments of quiet or needing a break, I am with you and understand.  We are in a season where some days I’m couch ridden or just do not have the capacity to move a muscle - give yourself grace.  Use what is available to maintain peace and sanity in your home until you find yourself a little more capable.  

-Enjoy the slower mornings, and choose to focus on character and responsibility more than academics; my eldest thrived on the structure of a schedule.  Some mornings he was dressed, fed, read to, played with, and finished his morning snack by 7a.m.  Which kind of set me on a trajectory of jumping right to it every morning - but mamas, be encouraged that those slower mornings matter.  Taking time to instill helpful habits, starting with the Word, snuggling up for a great book or exploring nature on a morning walk - they all matter more than getting in that reading or phonics lesson.  

-Read.  Read.  And then read some more.  The end :)  

-If something isn’t working, give it some time - if it’s still not working, switch!   Sometimes we feel really bound by deciding on something that we stick it out even if it’s making "school" time miserable; Because we have to check it off the list, duh.  But it’s just not worth it.  I bet one of your goals in home educating is to tailor your child’s education to what works for them - so just keep in mind that if it isn’t working, you’re in charge and can change it!

-Let them lead.  If they are driven, let them keep going.  If they are laid back, let them be laid back.  If art and creativity consumes their day, follow them along and see what can be discovered together.  If reading lessons are going great but suddenly there is push back, it’s ok to back off.  I once read somewhere that as far “ahead” as kids can be at a young age, and as far “behind” as they can be at a young age - by the age of 10 most children meet around the same spot academically.  

-PRAY.  Our God is the God of creativity - He delights in discovery.  He adores relationship.  He is the giver of all wisdom - and He genuinely cares about your heart to homeschool.  Before you dive into curriculum and scheduling, spend some time praying over what would be a best fit for your week, month, year.  Ask Him to give you insight to your kids, open your eyes to their unique giftings and areas He wants you to focus on.  After all, He is the one who made them :)

So I guess I only had 9, not 10.  

Stay tuned for Part Two, which will be a list of my favorite preschool and kindergarten blogs, printables, curricula and toys!  


Hybrid Homeschool 101

Hybrid Homeschool 101:  How did we get here.  

Want in on a little secret?  This whole Hybrid Home thing actually started out with far more narrow of a vision.  Narrow as in: The Hybrid Homeschooler.  It’s a whole thing, you know?  Staying home with your kids, trying to stay sane and teach them and feed them and keep them alive all at the same time and stuff.  I called up a sweet friend (the gracious kind that is willing to talk to you for hours on end while you drive your 3 kids home from Georgia in the middle of the night) and said “I HAVE OUR BLOG IDEA.  THE HYBRID HOMESCHOOLER!”  To which she replied… “THAT’S AWESOME!!!  But I don’t homeschool!”

Which really, that’s kind of where all of my thoughts landed that night prior to calling her - I am in fellowship and in community with some amazingly beautiful, talented, gifted women who are clothed in strength.  Determined to fight for their family, advocate for their children and give their all day in and day out.  And the funny thing?  We don’t all match.

This summer was the first time I found myself on the side of the conversation in which moms were asking ME questions about how to homeschool.  What curriculum we use, what our schedule looks like.  I’ve been around the block a time our two just talking screen time and chore charts.  Responsibilities.  Structure.  Socialization.  I absolutely love my days with my boys - hard.  But good.  And I absolutely love talking homeschool.  But really our choices and reasons for homeschooling and the curriculums we’ve chosen are things I’ve been picking and choosing from- a blend that is tailored to our family.  A hybrid, one might say (see what I did there?).  And at the end of every conversation there was kind of this sinking feeling, like I didn’t have enough to offer them.  That I just wasn’t going to help them see the big picture.  There was this voice inside me that wanted to just shout YOU. DO. YOU!  BE FREE!  And just do you really well.  Because truthfully, at the end of the day, as much as we know in our heads that not every child fits in a box…neither do us mamas.  

In typical kind-gracious-loving fashion, my friend heard me out - but took it further to not just the homeschooling mom of 3.  But into every area that we’re tempted with the lie … “you should be doing more.”  

Thus, The Hybrid Home was birthed. 

I love essential oils.  But I also really love Children’s Motrin.  And bug spray.  

I use Norwex for just about everything.  Along with toilet bowl cleaner and bleach.  

It is a fact: You will not lose your salvation if you’re vegan one day and throw a whole chicken + 1 stick of butter in the crock pot the next.  #balance

I can feed my family well 95% of the time but like, some nights it’s Tyson chicken nuggets prayed for and anointed with holy oil.  

I could go on and on and on, about all the hybrid up in this home.  Not from a place of discontentment or striving for the next best thing - I most certainly once was - but now, rather from a place of complete peace in knowing who I am, and who I am not.  And being ok with both.  

Sweet friends, our hope for you as your peruse and mingle about The Hybrid Home is that you would be filled with the encouragement that you are uniquely made to be you.  There is not another like you.  And while the world tries to tell us that we have to be all organic, or all oily, or all vegan and completely Charlotte Mason or 100% classical, off the grid or on, a complete extrovert or none whatsoever, we so desire for you to know that it’s ok to mix it up.  It’s ok to say you hate science experiments and prefer readalouds.  It’s ok to be a screen free family but let your kids binge watch cartoons on Saturday mornings.  Whole foods it as much as possible, but if the McDonalds drive thru is what is going to set a better tone in your home then go big and upsize.  Send one to school and homeschool another.  Be free of the constant yammering soapboxes coming from the internet and hold on tight knowing that the Creator God has allowed you to bring glory to Him in a way that is unique to you and your family.  And just do you - really really well.  

“a person who fears the Lord avoids all extremes.”  Ecclesiastes 7:18