• HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!
    brain stain,  morning basket

    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET – what to include and lots of great resource ideas!

    Today I wanted to share all about the homeschool morning basket!

    Though, to be honest, our morning basket isn’t usually in a basket, and doesn’t always take place in the morning . . .

    We take the general idea of a morning basket and make it work for our family and I highly recommend you do the same!

    Here I share what to include in your basket as well as lots of great resource ideas.


    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas and tips!




    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!


    The Jesus Storybook Bible

    While other kids’ Bibles contain stories from the Old and New Testaments, The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible, pointing to Jesus as our Savior. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will clearly see that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation—and at the center of their story too.


    How Great Is Our God

    The bestselling children’s devotional Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science resonated with more than 200,000 kids, parents, and teachers. Now Louie Giglio offers 100 more devotions about God and science that will expand the curiosity of your 6- to 10-year-olds. Including amazing scientific facts, beautiful photography, fun illustrations, and simple activities, How Great Is Our God covers topics like

    • Space and time
    • Earth and weather
    • The human body
    • Animals
    • Plants
    • And more!

    With this science devotional, which is based on Giglio’s well-known “How Great Is Our God” and “Indescribable” Messages, children will embark on a journey to discover more about God and His incredible creation. From the pink lake in Senegal to the earth’s trip around the sun to the water-holding frog that can live up to five years without a drink, the wonders of the universe will deepen your kids’ Appreciation for God’s wild imagination.


    It Couldn’t Just Happen

     “Did Earth begin with a ‘Big Bang’ cosmic explosion?

    Does science contradict the Bible?

    What happened to dinosaurs?

    Is there life on other planets?

    Did we evolve from apes?

    What makes my body work on its own?

    Kids are daily exposed to the theory of evolution by the media and public schools. It’s not safe to assume that your kids will reject that theory. It’s up to us as parents and Christian leaders to make sure our children know the truth about the creation of the world. With thousands of evidences to prove He created and sustains the universe, It Couldn’t Just Happen will fascinate kids with fun activities and examples of God’s marvelous works.


    The Ology

    The Ology is a starting point to learning theology and aims to create a hunger and desire in children to learn more as they grow older. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations so the entire families can enjoy it together.

    The story begins in the cellar of the old stone cathedral, where Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure: a carefully wrapped, ancient book known as The Ology. Young readers will discover a tale of adventure, mystery, and wonder, which will lead them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.


    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!


    Dramatic Audio CD - White Gypsy MAIN

    The White Gypsy

    Willy is lost. New sights and new places sometimes seem strangely familiar, but he doesn’t know why. Unexplainable flashbacks taunt him. Stolen by gypsies at a tender age, Willy now longs to discover who he is and where he belongs. A frightening journey by train to a new school will reveal more than he can imagine. Fragmented memories that haunt him in the present will lead to secrets of his past. If only he can remain strong and courageous through the passage! A dramatic tale of loss, sacrifice, hope and redemption awaits you.


    Dramatic Audio CD - Hedge of Thorns MAIN

    Hedge of Thorns

    John is determined to discover the secret that has been kept from him for so long. He must find out what is on the other side of the hedge! Desperate to break through, John devises a scheme, but it places his little sister in perilous danger. In a moment of passion he disregards his parents’ warnings and pushes her through the hedge! John learns that there are grave consequences to crossing the boundaries that God has set for him — an unforgettable lesson that has left an indelible mark on his life. Originally penned in 1611, The Hedge of Thorns has stood the test of time, reminding readers of the importance of God’s protection and boundaries for centuries


    Little Pilgrim’s Progress

    Fifty-five years ago, Helen L. Taylor took John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and simplified the vocabulary and concepts for young readers while keeping the storyline intact. The result was a classic in itself, which has now sold over 600,000 copies. It’s both a simple adventure story and a profound allegory of the Christian journey through life, a delightful read with a message kids ages 6 to 12 can understand and remember. A new look and fresh illustrations for today’s children enlivens the journey to the Celestial City.


    Tales from Shakespeare

    Discover Shakespeare’s best-loved plays These tales are the perfect introduction to Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Charles and Mary Lamb vividly bring to life the power of Hamlet and Othello, the fun of As You Like It and the drama of Pericles. They never lose the feel of his beautiful language and humanity and convey all of his wit and wisdom. These tales are classic literature in their own right.



    Then Sings My Soul

    In Then Sings My Soul, Book 2, Robert Morgan again delves beyond the songwriter’s inspiration and explains the real-life events, the tribulations and triumphs, and the fascinating details that led to these classic songs of praise.

    These devotional-style stories portray the emotion and drama behind the hymns that have changed many lives throughout history – the people whose walk of faith led them to write these wonderful hymns and the people whose faith was affected by reading, hearing, and singing the songs.


    The King’s Daughter and Other Stories for Girls

    Contains over 40 character building stories for girls. The stories were compiles from a four volume set titled, Sabbath readings. The stories were originally gathered from church papers in the 1870’s, Methodists, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. This is the 1910 reproduction, which is when the stories were first illustrated.


    Tiger Tom and Other Stories for Boys

    The stories in this book were compiled from a four volume set titled, Sabbath Readings. The stories were originally gathered from church papers In the 1870’s, Methodists, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. We bring to you this 1910 reproduction, which is when the stories were first illustrated. We have found the stories to be truly “a breath of fresh air” in literature for children and youth. May they receive a warm welcome in your home is our prayer.


    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!


    Horrible Geography

    The intrepid explorer can take a trip to the freezing-cold ends of the Earth in the latest Horrible Geography Handbook. This is the ultimate survival guide filled with tips on everything from how to handle a peckish polar bear to how to have a pee without geting frost bite – this is geography at its most perilous.


    Math Appeal

    In this book you’ll learn to see
    How very clever you can be.
    We’ll teach you tricks to help you add,
    Some day in math class you’ll be glad!

    In this follow-up to MATH FOR ALL SEASONS, Greg Tang underscores the importance of four basic rules in problem-solving. Keeping an open mind, looking for unusual number combinations, using multiple skills (like subtracting to add) and looking for patterns will guarantee any child success in math. In MATH APPEAL, Tang continues to challenge kids with his innovative approach to math.


    Bedtime Math

    In, Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal, families will find fun, mischief-making math problems that kids can’t wait to figure out. With over 100 math riddles on topics from pillow forts and and sneeze speeds to overfed pets and underwear, kids will find math isn’t just fun, it can be found in their everyday lives. And with three different levels of challenge (Wee ones, Little kids, and Big kids), plus a brand-new Bonus question, there’s something for everyone.
    Just as we all love stories before bedtime, families will find math is equally as fun and engaging. Many generations―kids and parents included―have been intimidated by math, but Bedtime Math is here to change all. We can make numbers fun, and change the world, one Bedtime Math puzzle at a time.


    How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane?

    How many bees does it take to make one jar of honey?

    How many soccer balls would fit inside a hollow Earth?

    How many pieces of gum would it take to stick you to a wall―and keep you there?

    Believe it or not, you can find out the answers to these questions yourself―using math! Combining questions from real readers like you with surprising answers, Laura Overdeck’s How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane? proves that numbers can be fun―and that math is power.


    You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece

    You are about to experience the life of a slave at first hand in Ancient Greece!

    This interactive series will enthrall young and reluctant readers (Ages 8-12) by making them part of the story, inviting them to become the main character. Each book uses humorous illustrations to depict the sometimes dark and horrific side of life during important eras in history. It’s the 5th century BC, and the Greek civilization is the most advanced in the world. But that civilization is based on slavery, and you, a member of a nomadic people from Asia Minor, are about to experience the life of a slave at first hand! This new extended edition includes a map and a timeline, and a selection of fascinating facts.


    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!



    The anagram game that will drive you bananas! BANANAGRAMS is the award-winning word game that needs no pencil, paper, or board. Players race against each other to build crossword grids and use all their letter tiles first. BANANAGRAMS comes in a small portable banana-shaped pouch so is great for travel, and is perfect for everyone 7 & up.


    Spot It

    Spot It! comes back with a whole new theme, this time camping! The game play remains the same: everyone plays at the same time trying to be the quickest to spot matching symbols. 55 cards, each with 8 symbols on them, 5 different mini-games. You can play each of the mini-games in order, out of order, or simply keep playing the same one.


    Monopoly Deal

    The Monopoly Brand Deal Card Game is all the fun of the Monopoly game in a quick-playing card game. It comes with 110 cards including Property Cards, Rent Cards, House and Hotel Cards, and Wild Property Cards. Action Cards let players do things such as charge rent and make tricky deals. House and Hotel Cards raise rent values. Wild Property Cards help players build Property sets. And, players pay their debts with Money Cards. Be the first player to collect 3 complete Property Card sets in different colors to win. This card game is a great way to play the Fast-Dealing Property Trading Game in as little as 15 minutes!


    Dutch Blitz

    Fast-moving game for up to 4 people

    Two to four players can play this fast-moving game. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

    In Dutch Blitz, each player has her own deck of forty cards, with cards 1-10 in four colors; red and blue cards show a Pennsylvania Dutch boy, while yellow and green cards show a Pennsylvania Dutch girl. Each deck has a different symbol on the back to aid with card sorting between rounds.


    Sushi Go

    Pass the sushi! In this fast-playing card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master!


    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!


    Brambly Hedge

    Explore the natural world with the mice of Brambly Hedge, who made their first appearance in 1980 when the four seasonal stories were published. Ever since, readers have loved exploring the miniature world of the hedgerow and meeting the families that live there.

    In this collection the mice have many adventures, but they always have time for fun and relaxation too. Whatever the season, and whether they are by the sea, in the hills, or simply at home by the fire, there is always someone ready to lend a helping hand.


    Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

    This complete and unabridged collection contains all 23 of Beatrix Potter’s Tales in one deluxe volume with all their original illustrations. The stories are arranged in the order in which they were first published so they may be read in their proper sequence. A special section at the end of this volume contains four additional works by Beatrix Potter that were not published during her lifetime


    Adventures in the Big Thicket

    Follows the adventures of a group of small animals living in a bayou in East Texas. Each adventure concludes with a Bible verse.


    Ox-Cart Man

    Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods – the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove. He packs the birch brooms his son carved, and even a bag of goose feathers from the barnyard geese.

    He travels over hills, through valleys, by streams, past farms and villages. At Portsmouth Market he sells his goods, one by one – even his beloved ox. Then, with his pockets full of coins, he wanders through the market, buying provisions for his family, and returns to his home. And the cycle begins again.


    Tales from Hans Christian Anderson

    A collection of favorite fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen.


    HOMESCHOOL MORNING BASKET - what to include and lots of great resource ideas!


    A Light in the Attic

    A Light in the Attic delights with remarkable characters and hilariously profound poems in a collection readers will return to again and again.

    Here in the attic you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, and find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a Mountain snores, and They Put a Brassiere on the Camel.

    Come on up to the attic of Shel Silverstein and let the light bring you home.


    Poetry for Young People – Lewis Carroll

    With fantastic characters and enchanting language, Lewis Carroll created magical wonderlands children have always loved to visit. These 26 selections from his classic works have never lost their fascination. “Softly realistic, period-style watercolors effectively highlight the mood of each selection….vocabulary or context notes on just about every page, and the book opens with a brief but illuminating biography.


    Flower Fairies

    Enjoy the classic, complete collection of Cicely Mary Barker’s original Flower Fairies books in this brand-new edition. This collector’s favorite has been redesigned and now features a lavish, eye-catching jacket with silver foil. The interior still includes all of the well-loved illustrations and poems from Barker’s eight original books, as well as a selection of fairy rhymes.



    Ambleside Online – Robert Frost

    Ambleside Online has a number of free resources like a compilation of Robert Frost’s poetry.



    Okay, that’s all I have for today, let me know some of your favorite Morning Basket resources!

  • Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader
    homeschooling as a lifestyle,  real homeschool stories,  week in review

    Homeschool Week in Review – Volume Two

    I’m back for another review of our homeschool week! I had a lot of fun sharing the first one last week, it was a good process for me now and I think it will be really nice to look back on at the end of the school year.

    Out of all the homeschool methods out there we really are in our own category. There are parts where I feel like we are unschoolers but we do try to do some intentional stuff a few days a week that would help us fall into a different category. How I described it awhile ago was Homeschooling as a Lifestyle and I think that description is still the best for us.


    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader




    For reference, here’s the low down on all the kids:

    The Daughter – she’s 9 and in grade 4
    The Son – he’s 6 and in grade 1
    The Preschooler – he’s 3
    The Toddler – he’s 1 (almost 2) – though this week we usually did our school work while he was napping


    + This week Monday was Remembrance Day so we didn’t do any school that day. To be honest, we didn’t even talk about Remembrance Day at all this year, I usually at least read the John McCrae poem In Flanders Fields but I didn’t even do that this year. The beginning of the week was very sleep deprived thanks to our littlest foster boy and we were in straight survival mode, hence why not much got done.


    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader


    + We had a few nicer-than-average (almost above freezing) days so we took advantage of the weather and went to the playground a few times!

    + We started our letter of the week with the preschooler. Starting things off with A. We used this free printable I found. We made it our own though because apparently his scissor skills are non-existent so instead of cutting out the teeth provided he just cut little strips out of green construction paper.

    + I’ve started a three-year-old journal with the preschooler, similar to the one I did with my son three years ago, we’re putting some of our letter of the week in there and then we’re adding some other stuff as well.


    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader


    + One of my goals for this week was to try Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with my son again. We stopped at lesson 64 months ago (maybe a year ago?) because he just wasn’t progressing. The first day we picked it back up at the story for lesson 64 and he read through it with help on just a few words! That was big! The only downside is that we only picked up the book one day this week.

    + When we were driving one day my six year old asked me if I knew what doctors did when they put tubes in kids’ ears. I had no idea so we ended up looking to our friend YouTube for some answers and came across this very informative video:



    + The tubes in ears video snowballed into watching a few videos from the Operation Ouch channel, it is totally up the alley of both my nine and six year old. This video about teeth was a favorite:


    + Last week I decided that I wanted my daughter to work on a larger project. I wanted to let her decide what topic to study and she chose to research Vienna. Normally we would get a ton of books on the topic but life hasn’t been allowing for very long library visits lately so I decided to find a few informational videos for her to watch on the topic. She has been working on creating a poster about Vienna in Canva, I think she should be able to finish it next week.

    + On the days that we did our sit down school work this week the kids did a little bit of math. My first grader is working on addition and subtraction and my fourth grader just started division.


    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader


    + The preschooler has been loving all our Usborne wipe clean books, the Mazes and Dinosaur activity books have been his favorites.

    + Friday we ended up having a number of different errands to do and didn’t do any school, so this week we only did three days of sit down work.


    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader


    + I ended up buying a few more educational board books for the preschooler this week and we’ve been re-reading a few of them. Some of his current favorites are:



    Here are some goals/intentions for next week:

    + Learn about the letter B with the preschooler.

    + Do at least three TYCTR lessons with the first grader.

    + Have the fourth grader finish her Vienna project.

    + Play more (or some) games, it’s been awhile since we played any!


    And that’s another homeschool week in the books! I am excited for next week and the goals I have for us.

  • Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers
    homeschool planning,  homeschooling as a lifestyle,  methods & philosophies,  minimalist homeschooling,  real homeschool stories,  relaxed homeschooling,  resources

    The Intentional Homeschooling Mini Planner

    Today I’m excited to share something with you that I have been thinking about for quite some time: a homeschool mini planner!

    I am a planner girl through and through but traditional planners and most homeschool planners don’t work with our relaxed/minimal/homeschooling as a lifestyle ways.

    I like to have a little bit of planning but also a fair bit of just documenting what we did.

    I also knew I wanted there to be prompts for different areas of our homeschool because sometimes I forget how much the kids are learning as we go about our daily lives.

    Enter the Intentional Homeschooling Mini Planner:


    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers


    I am super excited about this planner because I made it functional for the way we homeschool and I can use it year round, making my year end homeschool report to our school division a lot easier.

    Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?!?!



    Curious about what the Mini Planner all entails? Read on!


    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers



    There are monthly planning sheets for each of the 12 months. I like to go into a month with a bit of a plan and on the monthly plan page I’ve included space for you to write out:

    • encouraging words
    • your theme for the month
    • habits you want to work on
    • upcoming field trips
    • goals for the month
    • resources you want to use/may need to request from the library or friends
    • books you want to read that month
    • space for gratitude – because I always need a reminder to stop and be grateful


    This type of planning works perfectly for me and I know it will also work for my rebellious homeschool sisters who like to have a bit of a plan but don’t follow a strict schedule or routine. This type of planning helps me be intentional with my homeschool without feeling boxed in.


    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers



    My favorite pages in the mini planner are the weekly record pages. Not only is there space for the typical subjects but I also have a section titled “questions we explored” because my kids’ questions take us on so many great tangents. Another one of my favorites is the “best quote” space – because kids are always throwing some great quotes out there!

    Here’s exactly what you’ll find on the weekly record pages:

    • top priority
    • best quote
    • read alouds
    • extracurricular
    • English
    • science and technology
    • math
    • history
    • independent reads
    • games played
    • friends we saw (you know, in case people ask you how the socialization is going 😉)
    • highlights
    • geography
    • the arts
    • other
    • questions we explored


    I like to have this weekly page out in a high traffic area so I can use it to jot down questions as they come up and other things that I can document.


    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers



    One area I would like to try to do better in is doing some unit/theme studies. We’ve enjoyed them when we’ve done them but they take more planning than I’ve been doing lately so I created a unit study planner to help me with this!

    The unit study planner includes space for:

    • the unit you want to study
    • dates you will study them
    • fun fact you learned
    • relevant field trips
    • books
    • videos
    • other resources
    • projects


    I hope to be using the unit planner in the very near future!


    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers



    No planner can be made by Chantel if it does not include book lists.

    I think that’s a rule. So, there are some book list printables!

    Included is a simple “Books to Read” page that has a section for picture books and chapter books as well as a “Books Read” sheet where you or your kids can fill out a mini review on books you’ve read, the mini review includes:

    • the book title
    • author
    • publication year
    • your rating
    • and a few lines for a review/favorite quote/summary/whatever else you want to include there – I think this will be really nice to look back on and see what you’ve thought of the books you’ve read.



    Curious how we are using the mini planner? Here are a couple of sample pages, I’ll add more as time goes on!


    Raeca has been using the book review sheets to record her independent reads. She’s got some really cute reviews going on:

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers


    A small peek into our weekly record, I’ll share more of these soon!

    For the Mama Who Thinks She Couldn't Homeschool *Insert Subject Here*


    And that’s the Intentional Homeschooling Mini Planner

    I hope you enjoy this freebie!

    Happy homeschool planning my friends!
  • Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool
    homeschooling as a lifestyle,  real homeschool stories,  relaxed homeschooling

    Math at the Swimming Pool and Our Homeschool Lately

    Back when I started this homeschool blog I used it more to share peeks inside of our homeschool journey and it’s been awhile since I’ve done that so here we are: here’s a little peek into our homeschool lately.



    I first need to admit that this has been a hard winter personally for myself which definitely affects our homeschool.

    I really want to do some themed studies soon but this winter has felt like survival through the cold was as much as I could muster. Now that things are warming up here on the Canadian prairies I am getting excited to get outside and start getting into a bit of a new routine.

    This winter we continued with our homeschooling as a lifestyle/relaxed/minimal homeschool approach but it definitely bordered closer to the unschooling side some weeks.


    A look inside our relaxed, minimal, almost unschooling homeschool



    Here are a few highlights from the last few months:


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    A few weeks ago my husband had a work meeting at a city a few hours away so the kids and I tagged along and went to the Saskatchewan Science Center. It had been a year and a half since our last trip there and that trip was made in the summer so it was madness in there while this time was a school day and there were only a handful of other small families in there during our time there.

    We spent nearly 4 hours at the science center and the kids got to see everything they wanted to and never had to wait in any lines. Plus we got great seats for the science demonstrations and Raeca even volunteered for one (something she wouldn’t have done if there had been a lot of other kids there).


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    When we got home the kids wanted to play all sorts of science-y things and even put on a few faux science shows for me. Decked out in their labs coats, of course.


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    On the science theme, we have been listening to the Brains On podcast lately. Normally we listen to audiobooks at lunch but we were almost finished Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM and then it needed to go back with only 45 minutes left so we decided to listen to something else while we waited to get the book back.

    While I’ve listened to podcasts a lot myself this is my first time doing so with the kids and they love it. Part of me wants to go and find other podcasts for us to listen to but we have a lot of past Brains On episodes we can listen too now.

    If you have a favorite podcast to listen to with kids I would love to hear about it!


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    Like I said, we are continuing to listen to audiobooks together at lunch and we all have our own personal books on the go as well. If you are curious about what we are listening to, sign up for the bookish newsletter, each week I share what we are currently reading and listening to.


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    While we are on little getaway a few weeks ago the kids and I went to the pool and hot tub and while we were there the kids noticed (in the hot tub) how the water level rose once we got in and we had a good chat about displacement, mass and volume.

    This conversation took place the day after I shared my post about teaching math without a curriculum and it just confirmed what we’ve been doing.


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    I am trying to make sure Ephraim does a bit of printing most days. We had a copy of Handwriting Without Tears from when Raeca was younger so he will often print in there or else I have a composition notebook/journal he writes in.


    Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    Remember DEAR from school (Drop Everything And Read)? When I was in school we would always have DEAR right after the lunch recess and I’ve currently decided to implement this in our homeschool. Right after lunch we sit down in the living room and do some silent reading (well, Rae and I do, Ephraim will look at books or do his printing).

    I’ll admit, I started this mostly out of selfish reasons because it gives me 20-30 minutes to read in the middle of the day.


    There you have it, a little peek into our homeschool at the end of a very long winter. With spring approaching and the spring-like weather starting I am looking forward to adding a lot more outside time to our homeschool days.

    If you have some tips or tricks that help you through the long winter months I would love to hear them because as much as I would like to live in denial I happen to know winter will come around again before I’m ready for it.

  • How to Teach Math Without a Curriculum - easy ways to teach kids math
    homeschooling as a lifestyle,  math,  methods & philosophies,  relaxed homeschooling

    How to Teach Math Without a Curriculum

    As relaxed/minimal homeschoolers one of the big things we do to keep things relaxed is not follow a curriculum.

    So many times before I have heard people say “Oh, we don’t follow a curriculum . . . except for math.”

    For some reason parents often feel confident teaching all the subjects except for math.

    Have you ever felt that way?

    The truth is, teaching kids math doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t have to follow some pre-written curriculum for your kids to get it!

    Now, before I get into this post, let me share that math has never been my strong suit, I don’t find math easy to teach because I’m some kind of mathematical genius, it’s actually the opposite, because math was a struggle for me in school I learned some pretty eye opening things about it.

    And I don’t think any post about math would be complete without this awesome clip from Incredibles 2:

    (Forgive the grammatical errors in this image, I found it floating around in cyberspace and whoever added the text apparently doesn’t have a firm grasp on spelling/grammar – although truthfully, I don’t always either!)

    How to Teach Math Without a Curriculum - easy ways to teach kids math



    I just want to clear this up right from the get-go. What I am not talking about in this post is unschooling. I have nothing against unschooling (I actually quite like it) but what I am talking about here is still teaching math but just not following a curriculum while you do it.



    There is this huge fear that if we don’t follow a curriculum when it comes to math our kids will miss something vital. Let me put your mind at ease.

    First of all, think about it for a minute, how much from your math education do you actually remember and use on a regular basis? I’m guessing some addition, subtraction, basic multiplication and division, money and time. The basics. How often do you use that algebra and all the equations you learned in high school? . . . Yeah, I thought so.

    To be honest, so much of what is taught in school is taught too early. Every year the teachers teach pretty much exactly the same thing, just building slightly, and at the beginning of each fall kids come back to school forgetting a lot of what they learned the year before.

    What if we taught kids math when they were actually ready and interested? Imagine how much more they would retain.

    Did you know there have actually been studies that have shown that an interested a child can learn all of K-12 math in just eight weeks??? EIGHT WEEKS!

    And actually K-6 math has been learned by 9-12 year olds in just twenty hours.

    Then why are we trying to drill this into young kids before they are ready? And for hours at a time?

    Because all of the above (and because of what I saw as a teacher in the classroom) I do not stress about math in our homeschool. We still do math but we don’t beat ourselves up over it and I try to make it interesting and relevant.


    How to Teach Math Without a Curriculum - easy ways to teach kids math




    Okay, so here’s how we do it in our home:


    #1 BAKE!

    Honestly, this is probably the one I am the worst at. Baking is a great way to learn temperature, fractions and measurements but I am not the worlds best baker to begin with and inviting my kids to help me is not always my default but when I do it’s a time of learning!



    Do your kids often come to you with a question that is obviously math related? Mine do and instead of telling them the answer I get them to figure it out. If it’s one they can obviously figure out on their own I let them, if it’s something they need a little guidance on I’ll teach them how to do it.

    Just this morning Raeca came up and told me that she had 11 chapters left in The Hobbit. Here’s what she told me:

    There are 19 chapters in the book and I am on chapter 8, so, if you take away 8 from 9 you get 1 and then there is the other 10, that equals 11. Math!

    Ha, she actually said “Math!” at the end and I burst out laughing.



    We enjoy a lot of different board/card games together as family and so many of them are great for learning math. You can find a full list of our favorite games here. Any time you are using dice or counting points or money they are learning math.



    There are some great picture books that incorporate math, I have a list of some good ones here.



    That all being said, I still do have some math goals for each of my kids based on their skill level.

    Ephraim is in kindergarten and this year we are focusing on adding and subtracting to 20. For those most part I just write some addition and subtraction problems in a notebook for him to write the answers to. I actually think that for this kind of math being able to figure out answers in your head is very important and I didn’t think he would be there yet but he is figuring out a lot of the answers in his head. Though, because he struggles with fine motor I am making sure he writes the answers down for writing practice.

    Raeca is in grade three and one of my goals for this year has been for her to learn multiplication. Up until this point I’ve just been sharing how and why we multiply and then over the next few months we are going to focus on memorizing multiplication facts. I’m generally not keen on memorization for memorization sake but I think multiplication facts are one of those things a person just needs to memorize. Thankfully she’s got a great memory so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

    I found this image and am thinking I may use this idea for memorization, maybe each week I’ll tape a different set of multiplication numbers for her to memorize to the stairs. It takes an otherwise boring task and makes it a little more fun. Hopefully the cat doesn’t pull them all down . . .

    How to Teach Math Without a Curriculum - easy ways to teach kids math


    And that’s how we learn math in our homeschool without a curriculum! I would love to hear how you go about it in your homeschool!

  • What does a relaxed and minimal homeschool look like? A peek inside our simple and relaxed homeschool
    homeschooling as a lifestyle,  methods & philosophies,  relaxed homeschooling

    What is a Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool?

    To be honest, I personally cannot understand those other homeschool mothers who create a homeschool schedule at the beginning of the school year and stick to it all year long. My Type A side does like the idea but my Rebel side (which is stronger) can’t handle the idea.

    Our homeschool is constantly evolving as we are.

    We have tried a number of different homeschool styles in the last few years, from the more traditional school method, to unschooling to the Charlotte Mason method . . . I have nothing against any of those styles, if you’ve been around here for awhile you’ll probably actually know that I really wish we could follow the Charlotte Mason method but none of those methods really work with my, or my kids’, personalities.

    If we had to follow a particular method I am sure we could. I did manage to attend school from K-12, go to college and university, but one of my favorite things about homeschooling (I actually have a lot of favorite things) is that we can do what works best for us.

    And what works best for us is a relaxed, simple/minimalistic homeschool approach.

    Somehow I forget this each year and at the start of each year I want to try all the things and end up realizing a month or so into the school year that a more minimal approach works best for us. I guess I’m constantly learning too.


    What does a relaxed and minimal homeschool look like? A peek inside our simple and relaxed homeschool



    • I am more relaxed – a mom who is not stressed is going to result in a better learning environment
    • we get to learn about fun things we are interested in
    • we can make changes on the fly – if I had planned something for the day but the weather had other plans we can adjust things no problem
    • it’s a well rounded experience – contrary to what many people believe, taking a relaxed approach actually results in a well rounded educational experience
    • sick days don’t mess with the “schedule” – sick days are no fun but at least I don’t have to feel stressed because things aren’t going according to plan, we just move around whatever we had planned to the next non-sick day
    • it gives my kids plenty of free play time to use their imaginations and deepen their friendship
    • we can “do school” anywhere – from our couch to our car to an airplane to a different country!


    What does a relaxed and minimal homeschool look like? A peek inside our simple and relaxed homeschool





    A big way we keep things relaxed and minimal is by not using a curriculum. I know not following a curriculum can start the feelings of anxiety for many homeschool moms. I wish I could chat with each and everyone that felt that way because not following a curriculum is actually a lot more relaxing than trying to follow one.

    When following a curriculum many people feel like they will know if their kids are “on track” but that’s a slippery slope, because whose “track” are they on? There is a standard set out there for the school system so teachers have something to grade kids against but one of the benefits of homeschooling is not having to fit your kids into the curriculum mold.

    Both of my children are “advanced” in certain areas and “behind” in others, but because we don’t follow a curriculum they can continue to advance in their strong areas and work on the weaker areas without feeling less than other kids their age.


    Following the Interests - Our Relaxed and Minimal Homeschool



    If we were following a more traditional school approach I know that I would feel the need to “check all the boxes” and we wouldn’t have time left over to pursue my kids’ interests.

    My son is a very hands-on kind of kid and a good portion of his kindergarten year has been taking apart a tape deck and old alarm clock to see the circuit boards and other parts inside. As well as learning about circuits by playing different games, using his LittleBits R2D2 and other STEM types of things. This is not the typical kindergarten experience but another benefit of homeschooling is being able to create a custom educational experience for each child.


    What does a relaxed and minimal homeschool look like? A peek inside our simple and relaxed homeschool



    We are going to be taking the next few months to go deep into learning about France and Italy since we are planning a trip there for the fall.

    As a former teacher I know a lot of teachers get annoyed if a child is out of class for a few days, never mind a few weeks. And when a child is on a trip the teacher will often send worksheets along so they don’t get “behind” – what about all the child will be learning about on their trip?!?!

    I love that we have the flexibility over the next few months to learn about geography, history, landmarks, language, currencies, etc, it’s educational and helps prepare the kids for the trip which I think will also sweeten the experience when we are there.


    What does a relaxed and minimal homeschool look like? A peek inside our simple and relaxed homeschool



    It can be so easy to fill up rooms of homeschool supplies. I’m pretty sure a good part of the reason I became a teacher to begin with is because of my love of stationary and school supplies.

    We keep things minimal by not having a curriculum, making use of our library and keeping most of our school work in composition notebooks (I hope to have a post about our composition notebooks up in the next few weeks).

    That being said, we definitely still do have some homeschool supplies. I do keep a good stack of chapter books (pretty much all purchased from the thrift store for $1 or less a book) and we have a variety of other things as well.

    I like to keep our focus a little more narrow each month so for the past few months I’ve been creating a Brain Box that holds most of our supplies we will be using for that month.





    • not worrying about spelling in elementary school – I plan on modelling good spelling and allowing for plenty of reading time but spelling tests and practicing incorrect words over and over again isn’t going to happen.
    • allowing for plenty of free time – I used to think play based learning was a hoax, but I’ve since learned my lesson
    • reading and listening to a lot of books – our homeschool is very literature based and we always have an audiobook on the go as a family and the kids each have a number queued up on their tablets thanks to our library
    • playing games – there are so many things kids can learn from playing games and we have a ton of family favorites (so, our games may not be so minimal)
    • it’s a lot about just enjoying the season and moment we are in and learning about the things that are around us, in the winter this also means a lot of educational tv shows, in the summer it’s a lot more about exploring the outdoors

    Do you use a relaxed and minimal homeschool approach? What are your favorite things about it?