Amazon Prime Day is a global shopping event that allows you to shop top rated products at discounted prices. It’s like Black Friday in the summer. This can be awesome for homeschoolers who need to stock up on resources.
If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can sign up for a 30-day FREE TRIAL just to take advantage of the sales. But Prime has other benefits too such as free TWO-day shipping. Prime Video offers free streaming of movies, TV shows, and documentaries. There is also Amazon Music which offers access to hundreds of playlists and a million songs!
Are you a first-time homeschooler or thinking about homeschooling? Are you wondering about how to get started? Check out these 10 things you need to know to homeschool.
I’ve had several moms ask me “How do you homeschool? How do you make it all work.”
First, you must know that I don’t get it all done, and I’m no expert. I am, however, an expert on my own children. We’ve only been doing this homeschool gig since our children were preschool age. So in that time frame, I’ve learned a few things.
This post was originally published November 3, 2015, but has since been updated.
10 Things You Need to Know to Homeschool
1. Know Your State Homeschool Laws
The laws may include submitting a declaration of intent, yearly tests, attendance records, or portfolios. Know what is legally needed for your homeschool journey. You can find out more by going to your state’s department of education website. This will give you the most accurate homeschool laws. You can also visit the HSLDA website and click on your state for more information.
2. Research the Different Homeschool Philosophies But Don’t Feel Like You Have to Follow Any of Them
Homeschool is not Public School. Therefore it can look and feel however you want it too. I remember when we first started out…the feeling like I had to follow everything exactly. I was so afraid of messing up!
Guess what? If we want to sleep until 10 am and then stay in our pajamas until 1 pm while eating popsicles, then we can do that. Or you can get up at dawn and have your lesson over and done before lunch. If we don’t finish a curriculum, or jump around based on interests, or decide that we don’t like a particular read aloud… it doesn’t mean we are messing up. We are tailoring our children’s education based on their needs. I don’t know about you but I want to focus on the relationships and connections with my children as well as their academics.
I don’t believe there is any one way to do homeschool. There are far too many options and grown homeschoolers who are happy and successful members of society. But, understanding the different approaches to home education can help you get started.
So, what sort of homeschooler do you believe yourself to be? Are you Classical, Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Traditional, Unschooling, Thomas Jefferson Education, Eclectic or Unit Study. I love this quiz from Eclectic-Homeschool. Click here to take their quiz. It will give you an idea of where you stand.
We identify as Eclectic Homeschoolers with Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and Unit Study tendencies. Most homeschoolers are not one pure philosophy but a blend of several or Eclectic in nature.
Use what works best for you and your children and leave off the things that don’t.
10 Things You Need to Know to Homeschool
3. Find Your Tribe
We all need a tribe of people to help get us through those crazy times (Yes, there will be times when you question your sanity). Or to answer questions about local laws, education opportunities, or field trips.
Start by connecting with others like yourself. This could happen at co-op, church, extracurricular activities or functions that you and your kiddos may participate in.
Remember, if you can’t be authentic with people, then they not your people. Move on.
Online tribes can be fantastic alternatives to the more traditional connections.
When you are feeling weary and in need of encouragement I invite you to listen to Julie Bogart of Brave Writer. She has this Ah-Mazing ability to make you realize that you are enough and that you can, in fact, do this! Her books, Homeschool Alliance, and Podcast are filled to the brim with inspiration and wisdom.
The Homeschool Sisters Podcast is another great place to turn when homeschooling gets tough and you are feeling like you’re messing up. These two ladies are wonderful at keeping it real while helping you find joy in the midst of homeschooling chaos. They are right there in the trenches of homeschool with you.
Also, the Simple Homeschool has the most inspirational blog posts from other homeschool mamas that understand what we are facing every day.
4. Know Your Child’s Learning Style
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. Every child learns differently and at different times. Understanding this can help you in deciding HOW to homeschool. Do they learn better with pictures (Visual), audio (Auditory), or movement (Kinesthetic)? Or do they learn best with a combination? Here is a great breakdown of the different learning styles from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
My kiddos prefer a combination of hands-on activities, great books, games, documentaries, and adventures!
We love to tumble down rabbit holes of learning, which is our way of saying interest-led learning!
It’s never perfect, but we love learning and that is something that I strive for.
5. Interest-led Learning
Everyone gets excited about something. We all have our unique passions and your child’s interests are a fantastic place to start your homeschooling journey.
If you are unsure of your child’s interests, take them to the library and let them pick out any books they want. This is a great way to see where their interests lie. If you don’t already have a library card, go get one!
Strewing is another great way to discover interests or to spark new interests in your kiddo! It has this amazing way of inspiring your child’s natural curiosity!
Passions and interests help unlock a love of learning.
10 Things You Need to Know to Homeschool
6. Curriculum or Not?
Curriculum is a wonderful tool for many homeschoolers. For others, it can be a waste of time and resources. Some homeschoolers prefer the structure that a boxed curriculum brings along with knowing they are covering the “required” material.
Others (like myself) prefer the freedom to follow the interest of our children. Some homeschoolers piece together curriculum. Then there are the homeschoolers who use a mixture of both. They may use a math curriculum but follow the interests of their children in all other areas. There are many combinations of curriculum use.
But many family’s new to homeschooling prefer to start with a boxed curriculum the first year or so to help ease their anxiety. That’s OK too! Use what works for you and your child.
You can read about our different curriculum choices from previous years below:
It takes time to figure out how you want homeschool to look for you and your family. Homeschool looks different for everyone. We are all unique individuals with unique families.
Be gentle with your child as they transition as well. There is a saying in the homeschool community that it takes one year for you to find what works….and don’t be surprised if what works this year does not work next year.
So be gentle with yourself and your child.
8. Be Flexible.
Be flexible with your schedules, planners, curriculum’s and your time. If something doesn’t appear to be working, take a pause. Change it and try something else.
Be flexible with your child. If they are not learning what you are trying to teach, change the way you teach or take a break from that subject for a few weeks. Or, they may not be ready to learn that particular topic. Remember, your child is constantly growing, learning and changing.
Your homeschool must be flexible.
9. Take Time for Yourself.
I’ve seen countless homeschoolers who give everything they have to their children with no regard to their own well being. In order to give to your family, you must have something with which to draw from. You cannot give something that isn’t there.
Take time for yourself. Exercise, yoga, knit, garden, go on a date with your significant other….whatever it is that you need. Recharge. Self-Care is so very important.
10. Just Breathe.
We are all in the trenches of parenting and homeschooling. It can take time to get your footing and feel comfortable with all that you are facing. Breathe. You can do this.
Here are some of my favorite books on parenting and homeschooling!
Motherhood is beautiful; motherhood is hard. All moms understand this paradoxical truth. Yet introverted mothers face unique challenges.” Jamie Martin, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy
I’m always looking for someplace quiet.
The constant noise and talking wear me out. Homeschooling two extroverted and intense kiddos take its toll.
I need time to recover and renew after outings. Sometimes one or two days!
That Valentine’s Day party I took the kids to that had thirty other attendees? Kids running around hopped up on cookies and chocolate. Yelling and chaos ensued.
Yeah, I needed a nap after that! At least our dog appreciated my need to re-charge.
I need alone time.
My introverted nature challenges me throughout motherhood. For years I felt guilt over how I was wired. Why did outings wear me out? Extracurriculars are exhausting, folks. I see other moms going from one activity to another and never seem to miss a beat. It’s draining just watching them!
Then I start to feel insecure. What is wrong with me?
Don’t compare your season of planting seeds with another mom’s season of harvesting them.” Jamie Martin, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy
Nothing is wrong with me. There is nothing sub-par about my abilities to handle life or homeschool my children. I am simply an introvert.
Embracing Our Strengths as Introverted Homeschool Moms
Being introverted is not something to outgrow; it is something to accept and grow into–and even cherish.” Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
I am learning to accept my introversion.
Yet, I am also a highly sensitive person. This means that on top of my introversion I am also easily overwhelmed because of a sensitive nervous system. Sights, smells, sounds, and chaos, in general, can all send me into sensory overload.
A double whammy.
The chaos of that Valentine’s day party almost did me in, folks.
It was so peopley!
Yet, everywhere I turn are articles and books on tips for dealing with the challenges of introversion. Tips for how to self-care as an introvert. These are all well and good and even welcomed, because they are important!
Exhaustion is a real challenge for introverts.
But as an introvert, I have strengths too.
Introverts recognize their unique challenges and thus learn how to prepare ahead of time. We pay attention.
This comes in handy for all things homeschool related.
Going to have a day full of socialization and extracurriculars? Introverts prepare by having a meal in the crockpot and planned quiet time once they get back home. Then they can decompress from the days’ activities and the family is still functioning. I call this planning buffer time.
This can mean planning quiet time, nap time, or simply sticking to our routines and rhythms each day.
Sometimes it means keeping a stash of chocolate in the bathroom!
The same goes for our kids. We tend to anticipate when they need downtime or social time based on their personalities and emotions.
We are excellent at acknowledging needs beforehand and planning how to handle them accordingly.
I think listening is definitely a superpower of introverts.
Introverts tend to listen more than they talk.
This is perfect when raising or homeschooling extroverted children! Plus, we want our children to know that they can always come to us and tell us any and everything. We will listen and listening is a cornerstone in building our family relationships.
But don’t mistake our quiet for lack of knowledge.
Introverts can hold their own in a conversation especially when conversations are big, comprehensive, and detailed.
Though, afterward, we may need to have some quiet time to recuperate from all the talking. It just depends on the introvert.
As introverted moms, we take our thoughtful insights and offer them back to our families as gifts that would never exist otherwise.” Jamie Martin, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy
We, introverted mothers, are always thinking and processing the world around us. What could go wrong? What could go right? We may think of every scenario possible!
Introverts process things internally and alone as opposed to externally with loads of people.
We tend to think things through BEFORE acting. This is super helpful when homeschooling.
Brain dumps help to get all of those thought out of our heads so we can sort through them more efficiently. When my husband asks me what I’m thinking, I always say I have seventy-seven computer tabs open in my brain. Which tab is he interested in?
Introverted homeschool moms have a unique curiosity about them. Perhaps it’s because we have such vast interests. We are also usually surrounded by books and other forms of the printed word. This has huge advantages as we go along our homeschool journey.
Our children are exposed to a rich world in far off places. One of my very favorite things in the world is reading aloud to my children. When they were smaller, they would curl up in my lap and listen with eyes sparkling.
Now that they are older, they sit next to me. But their eyes still sparkle as I read aloud with passion and excitement. I make every character unique with their own voice. I love that the books give our family a connection and afterward, conversations.
Being creative doesn’t mean introverts just like to read. There is any number of creative hobbies that introverted moms enjoy: photography, writing, gardening, sewing, art, etc.
I actually enjoy all those things.
We are also very creative when it comes to problem-solving! My kiddo isn’t grasping fractions? What creative ways can we approach this subject? Manipulatives, games, books, and videos can all be great out of the box ideas!
When our quiet nature collides with our often loud role, frustration and guilt result.” Jamie Martin, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy
Introverts are known for their quiet calm exteriors. While we do enjoy the occasional adventure, we tend to be most refreshed by being alone and in our own space. It’s important to have that space to replenish ourselves. Recharging helps us to keep our tranquility. Otherwise, we become irritable and frustrated.
Our pacific temperaments make us wonderful homeschool moms as we raise and educate our little ones.
When we are calm, we can be a more emotionally generous parent to our young charges even when they are grumbling. Thus, I believe that a refreshed and calm introverted mom can provide a wonderfully gentle and inspirational homeschool environment.
An Introverted Mom
You already have every trait you need to be the best unique mother for your unique kids.” Jamie Martin, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy
The new book I’m reading, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy, has been a game changer for me. I devoured it in a single afternoon. Each page was validation that indeed there was nothing wrong with me. Jamie Martin has such a beautiful way of expressing all the thoughts and feeling we introverted homeschool moms have felt over the years.
This book is exactly the encouragement I needed. I laughed, cried, and said “aha!” with each chapter. I love that it reminds me to let go of the mommy guilt, embrace my introversion, and to look after my needs. Rest and self-care are key, but let’s remember to celebrate our introverted strengths too.
*For my secular readers: The Introverted Mom book is quite religious, but still a great encouragement to introverts*
Are you an introvert? What do you think are your introvert strengths?
Do your kiddos love animals? How about art? Playful pet portraits are perfect for animal-loving kids as they tap into their creative sides. These whimsical pets are the perfect way to introduce your child to various art forms and artistic styles. Plus, this online art class makes this an easy art project for kids of all ages!
Bright blue scaled chameleons, vivid goldfish, and adorable kitties now decorate our walls. My kids loved creating these unique works of art and it was all possible with a multi-project ecourse called Playful Pet Portraits from the Masterpiece Society Studio!
With Playful Pet Portraits, my kiddos were given detailed videos and step-by-step instructions for each project. There are 10 different projects to choose from! These include:
I appreciated the simple techniques for painting our family pets while exploring various artistic styles with my children. This makes it wonderful for homeschool families and children of all ages. Plus, you will receive LIFETIME access, so you are free to work at your own pace, on your own schedule.
(Although the age recommendation is for older children and teens, many younger children, and even preschoolers, can do these projects right alongside their siblings with minor adjustments. My daughter was 5 years old when she started this course)
In this mixed media workshop, my children explored and experimented with various art forms including:
Palette Knife Painting
Charcoal & gesso
Homeschool Art Resources and Supplies
Playful Pet Portraits provides you with a detailed supply list and PDF templates for those who want to create as close to the original piece as possible. Here are some of our favorite art supplies:
Goldfish in Oil Pastels
Paint Your Pet: Homeschool Art Project
We love our pets! They fill our lives with endless amounts of love, joy, fun, and mischief! So, the next logical step was to do a portrait of our very own pets.
For the homeschool art project of painting their own, the kiddos each picked which pet they wanted to re-create. We have quite a few to choose from including dogs, cats, snake, tarantula, fish, frogs, goats, chickens, and ducks.
My son chose his cat, while my daughter chose our Great Pyrenees puppy!
Cat on Negative Space
I sketched out the pets onto the canvas and then the children took over choosing their own colors, forms, lines, and negative space.
Great Pyrenees Puppy on Negative Space
Pet Portraits Make Wonderful Gifts
For Christmas gifts, the children wanted to make pet portraits for their Nana as she has a huge love of animals! I thought this was such a lovely idea. Homemade gifts are always the best!
We asked extended family members for photos of Nana’s dogs. We wanted this to be a surprise. Then I proceeded to sketch out the Shih Tzus on canvas.
The kiddos did all the painting on their own using the knowledge they learned from the Masterpiece Society Studio‘s Playful Pet Portrait course! Nana was thrilled with her Christmas gifts and the children took great pride in giving and in a job well done.
These pet portraits make wonderful art projects for kids of all ages. The online art lessons are straightforward and convenient to use. Because we have lifetime access we can go at our own pace or revisit previous lessons anytime. The Playful Pet Portraits make it effortless to get creative with your kids while exploring what they love…their pets and art!
Nature study is one of our favorite ways to get outside and learn. It provides us with much needed fresh air, and room to run all while gaining knowledge and insight into the natural world. A nature study doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. Here are 8 tips to help you make your homeschool nature study a fun and educational adventure!
Everyone should have their own nature journals. That includes Mom and the 3-year-old! Seriously, I have my own nature journal and I try to model the characteristics I would like to see in my children’s nature journals: sketches, leaf rubbings, scientific names, characteristics, thoughts, bits of poetry. Our 3 year old also has a nature journal. It happens to be a spiral sketchbook with princesses on the cover. She picked it out herself which, I think, makes all the difference. When I suggest we go on a nature hike, she takes off while yelling, “I gotta get my nature journal!”
Choose the Nature Journal that is Best for You and Your Kids
I prefer a plain old sketchbook like this Canson Artist Sketch Pad for my own nature journal. Our son uses one of these, as well, in conjunction with his Dinosaur decomposition notebook. I like the spiral bound because I find it easier to lay flat, while I’m sketching, than other sketchbooks with a more traditional binding.
The Dinosaur Decomposition Notebook is a favorite of our son’s even if it is college ruled lined paper. This is his absolute favorite notebook of all time and he brings it to every outing.
A nature journal doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, but if you are so inclined there are some very lovely ones to be found.
8 Tips for Nature Study
2. Books, Websites, and Apps to Keep on Hand
So, you’re out and about on your nature hike and your child rushes to you excitedly with some interesting creepy crawlies that they just gotta know more about. Rather than looking like a deer in headlights might I suggest some really great resources? Now, we don’t take all of these with us all the time.
We tend to rotate them in and out of our nature backpacks depending on the children’s interests at the time.
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock is as helpful today as is was when it was first written in 1911. This handbook was meant for teachers who had little knowledge of the common plants and animals around them. Of the living things described, most are common in the northeastern United States.
The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders by the National Audubon Society is so helpful in identifying all of those creepy crawlies our children like to pick up! The National Audubon Society actually has a whole collection of field guides ranging from reptiles to wildflowers and everything in between.
Here are a few more great nature guides to take along as you explore nature!
More Books for Mom on WHY Nature is So Important
Here are some more great nature study books for mom to enjoy!
Here are a couple of handy nature websites and phone apps!
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a treasure trove of information on birds. It’s great to use if you’ve identified a bird and want to come home and do a bit more research.
North American Birds is an App on my phone that we have used time and again to identify bird species based on their calls and their markings. It’s a free App if you have an Android device.
The mighty Google has helped us tremendously. I’ll typically do a search for the creepy crawlies in our state or region as well as a search for pictures.
8 Tips for Nature Study
3. Seasonal Poetry Books to Take Along
There is something beautiful about reading poetry out in nature. My children become enchanted with the play on words while the sounds of nature surrounds them. Here are some really beautiful poetry books to take along based on the time of year.
Now, you don’t have to pack backpacks. Mom could always lug everything around in a big canvas bag if need be, but let me tell you how much easier it is when each kid helps carry the items they want to bring by having their own backpack! There are several items you are going to want to have on hand for your nature study and if the kids can help carry the load, then so much the better!
Pencil Boxes with pencils or markers (kids choice)
Containers for holding and observing creepy crawlies (these can be sandwich bags, plastic containers, or even glass jars)
Water bottles (children get thirsty)
Sunscreen (the sun gets hot)
Change of clothes (I don’t know about you, but our kids always end up drenched or muddy or both!)
Snacks (children get hungry)
8 Tips for Nature Study
5. Utilize State Parks, Nature Centers & Your Own Backyard
Some of you have places to observe nature right in your own backyards. In our instance, we live on a farm surrounded by fields that are great for nature study. For others, who may live in the city or in subdivisions, utilize your local state parks, and nature centers. We visit our local state park for a weekly ranger-led hike.
The states park rangers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
They love answering the children’s questions. This program is free and we have had loads of exciting adventures while learning all about the local wildlife. Above is a juvenile Great Horned Owl that was brought to the rangers due to injuries. Our son added the owl to his nature journal after learning some cool facts on him. Then they dissected owl pellets!
8 Tips for Nature Study
6. Keep it Impromptu: No Expectations
Keep nature study impromptu and fun. Let the children run around and play first. I’ve found that if the kids get some of that excess energy out, then they become more interested in the world around them. Let the children add whatever they wish into their nature journals; a cool rock, a butterfly, an interesting leaf, the noisy squirrel in the tree. Encourage them to draw pictures, add scientific facts, or anything at all.
By showing interest and excitement with the natural world and your own nature journal you are modeling good nature study habits for your children.
8 Tips for Nature Study
Observation is the best way to acquire information about the world around us.
Employ all of your senses.
Ask the children what they see, hear, and smell. Notice the wind, the clouds, and that sweet smell in the air. Notice any evidence that something has been about. Are those walnut shells on the stump? Was it a chipmunk? A feather on the ground! How does it feel? If applicable and only do this if you are knowledgeable about what things are safe to ingest, how does it taste? Last week we tasted the seeds of the native spicebush. The Cherokee Indians used this plant to season their food. We thought it was quite strange but definitely spicy.
8 Tips for Nature Study
8. Take Pictures
Sometimes creatures don’t want to be still long enough for you to get a sketch done. I prefer to take pictures of them and then when I get home I can sketch them out at my leisure. You can even give your kids disposable cameras to take along on their nature study. You’ll be amazed at what they capture. It’s so fun to see the world through different lenses and from different points of view. A camera allows you to see what your child sees and on their level.
Nature Study doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. Encourage your children to look for things that interest them. Relax and inspire them with your own passion for the natural world. There is so much to learn and discover.
Check out these Science and Nature Games that are perfect for playing at home!
Here are a few nature ideas for strewing around your home to help spark your child’s interests in nature study.
Caves & Caverns are a fantastic way to study geology! Visiting local caves & caverns can be a great hands-on way to study the formations of Earth’s rocks. Check out these fantastic resources including books and hands-on activities!
If you live in the southeastern region of the United States, then more than likely you’ve heard of Ruby Falls, Tennessee. This unique underground waterfall and limestone cavern is a favorite destination for many families. We’ve passed by it for years, but we finally made the stop and visited on our last trip back from Atlanta. Wow, what an amazing experience! We learned tons about the different speleothems or cave formations such as stalactites, and stalagmites, plus so much about cave and cavern formations. Did you know there is even a flowstone called Bacon? Seriously, it looked like a slab of BACON hanging from the ceiling! How amazing is that!
Fun Facts about the Caves & Caverns of Ruby Falls
In 1928 Chemist and Cave enthusiast, Leo Lambert, discovered Ruby Falls and its connecting caverns while trying to drill a new opening into the Lookout Mountain Cave on Lookout Mountain.
He named Ruby Falls after his wife Ruby Lambert.
The Falls are located at the end of the main passage of Ruby Falls Cavern, in a large vertical shaft.
The Falls are 1120 ft. underground!
Ruby Falls is considered a cavern because it has no natural opening above ground. This also prevents it from being inhabited by normal cave-dwelling creatures.
The water of the falls has large concentrations of magnesium which is leached from the mountain. This makes the water a natural laxative!
Ruby Falls features many of the more well-known types of cave formations including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flowstone.
We even got to touch the cave formations that were no longer actively growing!!!! This big one was called the “Dripping Candle.”
Learning about Caves & Caverns at Ruby Falls
We learned an insane amount about the subterranean world of caves and caverns while visiting Ruby Falls. These caverns are gorgeous and amazing to behold. The kids were in awe and delight the whole time we were underground…that just sounds exciting doesn’t it?
It’s even more exciting when you know you’re 1,120 ft. underground. If you happen to pass through Chattanooga, Tennessee, then I highly recommend stopping for a quick tour. It only takes an hour and a half and it’s always a comfortable 60 degrees! You’ll be so glad you did!
Additional Fun Cave & Cavern Facts
A cave or cavern is a naturally occurring space or chamber under the surface of the Earth
A cavern is a special type of cave that is larger, consists of a series of smaller caves with connecting passages, and with its opening located underground. All caverns are caves but not all caves are caverns.
The scientific study of caves and their surrounding environments is called Speleology.
The world’s longest cave system is Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA, 651.8 km (405 miles)
The deepest known cave is Voronya Cave, Abkhazia, Georgia, 2,197 m (7,208 ft.)
Learn more about Caves & Caverns
If you want to study the mysterious world of caves or perhaps you don’t have a nearby cave to visit, then here are some geology books and resources that we used to help us learn more about this underground environment.
BBC Video Planet Earth: Caves/Deserts/Ice Worlds narrated by David Attenborough – Enjoy this family-friendly documentary as you are transported to the highest mountains and deepest caves on Earth. This series takes you on an unforgettable journey through the daily struggle for survival in Earth’s most extreme habitats. If you can’t get out to visit a cave, then this documentary is the next best thing!
Caves by Kimberly Hutmacher – Dark hollows form deep underground. Caves create underground rooms of discovery. What mysteries are hidden inside these landforms?
Cave by Donald Silver – From the wriggly-one-celled bacterium to a sleeping grizzly bear, the cave is alive with activity and musty with history. Detailed illustrations and safe activities shed light on a mysterious habitat, complete with creepers, crawlers, swimmers, and fliers–hooters, buzzers, and growlers!
Caves and Caverns by Gail Gibbons – Here is a fascinating journey through those dark, mysterious hollow places on earth–sea caves, lava caves, ice caves, and more.
Caves (Nature in Action) by Stephen Kramer – captivate your readers, by stirring their interest in science with these dramatic photographs of the powerful effects of nature in caves.
Caves by Cassie Meyer – In this book, children learn about the features of caves, where caves are found, and what makes caves unique.
Fairy gardens are decorative miniature gardens that are perfect for kids. With them, children may learn about gardening, horticulture, and plant science. Plus, these magical spaces are wonderful for imaginative play and creativity.
With the Fairy Garden Workshop, we learned how to design and create our own fairy garden for kids from plant choices to furnishings to planting and caring for our small-sized theme garden.
We received instruction and tutorials on how to design our fairy garden along with a printable eBook full of record sheets for planning the perfect fairy garden!
It was just what we needed!
Deciding the Location of your Fairy Garden
TheFairy Garden Workshop has eight lessons that walk you step by step through the fairy garden process. Each lesson has certain objectives and goals for your kiddos to accomplish as you explore the world of fairy gardens.
Lesson one, we brainstormed ideas on what my daughter would like in her fairy garden and where would she like to have it in the yard.
She settled on two large empty half barrel containers we already had near the driveway.
My daughter could already envision this space filled with whimsy and wonder.
The reason for this location was that it was far enough from the chickens and dogs to not have to worry about them digging up her garden. Second, she loved the idea of visitors seeing the fairies upon their arrival to our home.
This driveway area is mostly shaded. So, when we set off for the plant nursery, we knew we would be looking for small shade-loving plants.
You could choose any number of containers for your fairy garden. Here are some of our favorites:
But just about anything can be made into a container for a fairy garden. See what you have lying around and try repurposing it! Old suitcases, metal troughs, an old boot, books, and an unused colander can be made into whimsical containers! You are only restricted by your imagination.
My daughter wanted to use a dwarf hydrangea in the center of her pots as she felt it would give good coverage for the fairies from any predators such as hawks. She also thought that the hydrangeas, though a dwarf, would get just large enough to be grand trees for the fairies.
She also chose:
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia Aurea) to cascade over the edge of her half barrel
Lobelia (blue and white flowering)
All of these are small plants only growing 4-8 inches in height and preferring semi-moist shaded conditions!
I love that the Fairy Garden Workshophad a whole plant shopping checklist for kiddos to fill out for compatible plants along with scientific names, plant care, cost, and where to buy! Then there is a plant care sheet in which your kids can document all sorts of care instructions for each individual plant.
When choosing plants for your fairy garden look for plants that will fit your location, climate, and theme.
Planting Fairy Gardens
Next, we added some dark rich soil and compost to our containers.
My daughter has plans to expand her fairy scene. So, later, we will be adding more soil and plants around the base of our half barrels.
If you have a large space, you too can create several scenes for your kiddos and fairies to play in.
I set the hydrangea in the center of each pot for my daughter as the root ball was quite large. Then she proceeded to place the smaller plants where she wanted them.
She gently placed more rich soil in the spaces between the plants and then watered thoroughly.
Arranging Your Fairy Garden Accessories
Once the plants were cozy in their new home it was time to arrange the accessories on top of the soil. You can create paths, ponds, caves, and meadows with your accessories. Whatever you want to add to create interest is fair game.
My daughter placed the fairy house in a couple of different areas of the pot to get an idea of where exactly she wanted it. Once she decided, she removed it until after she had placed her rocks and moss.
My kiddo created a looping path so the fairies could meander around each plant!
Any place that the path didn’t cover we then covered with decorative moss. It created a darling effect!
Adding Your Fairies and Fairy House
Now that she had her paths and moss in place, my daughter placed her fairy house in the container.
Then she added in her fairies! My little reader was thrilled with the fairies she had chosen. One in particular because it is a fairy…
…reading a book
…with a dog!
*Some people choose not to place fairies in their fairy gardens and instead opt for the fairies to visit when no one is looking*
Fairy gardens make a wonderful enchanted place for children to use their imaginations and pretend. They are a lovely addition to any porch, deck, or entryway. These miniature gardens can even work in places where space is limited!
TheFairy Garden Workshop is perfect for walking you step by step through all of the planning and planting processes.
Plus, there are loads of extra resources, videos, and tips all about plants, soil, and fairies!
Fairy Houses and Fairy Accessories
Need more inspiration? Check out these adorable fairy houses!
Remember, you can use any objects you want to enhance your fairy garden. That can include any natural items found on hikes or around the yard and garden. Here are some other accessories that can make your fairy garden unique:
Fairy Books for Kids
Here are some of our favorite books on fairies and fairy houses.
Do you ever feel like one of those trapeze artists at the circus about to jump through a flaming ring while juggling swords and balancing a poodle on your head? All the while praying your leotard doesn’t split mid-jump?
No? ….just me then.
I’m overwhelmed, honestly.
You see on top of motherhood and homeschooling we also bought a house. Super exciting I know! But this house needs some TLC and since we are doing most of the work ourselves…and learning as we go…it has been an enormous project.
Amid guitar lessons, ballet practice, play rehearsals, barn chores, and everything else we are now spending most evenings over at the new house working on tearing down walls, sanding, painting, building new chicken coops and animal stalls.
Why yes, thermal dynamics can be taught with sandpaper and power tools.
What’s for dinner you ask? How does a hot pocket and string cheese sound?
I’m kidding! I also offered them an apple with peanut butter!
When You’ve Lost Your Homeschool Rhythm
Here’s the big pink elephant in the room.
It happens to us all.
I could say that starting tomorrow we will have “this and that” schedule and everything will be smooth as silk again.
But we all know better.
For us, until we get moved into the new house and then after several months of habitation…our rhythm will be off.
That’s how life changes work, big or small. They take time; time to adjust and settle and to find what works.
Rhythms change. Homeschool and motherhood have seasons. Just like in nature there are seasons of busy-ness and seasons of rest.
How to Cope With A Changing of Rhythm
Our rhythm feels lost right now because it’s changing. We are trying to create something extraordinary and beautiful. Our homeschool is part of that beauty. So we are focused on what is working and making sure we are doing those things every day.
Not laundry or dishes…those have taken a back row seat…as has meal planning…
Guess what? Each family is different and unique. Homeschooling is about finding what works for you and your kids. I’m finding what’s working for my family during this stressful time. Also remember, that learning happens everywhere not just with a textbook.
Kids are always learning!
Looking back on the past couple of weeks I realize just how much we got accomplished.
Note: It’s totally fine to accidentally do some homeschooling awesomeness and then add it to your “What we accomplished” list.
like…learned power tool safety. CHECK!
Don’t try to do it all, folks! Focus on what works and make those your priorities.
Here are some of the resources I use when homeschooling through difficult times:
Audiobooks come to the rescue when you can’t fit read alouds into your day! These are great for car schooling, or during appointments. Around theWorld Stories are another form of audio that combines geography with stories.
Documentaries are loaded with educational benefits! Curiosity Stream is our favorite go-to for documentaries.
Games are an easy way to sneak in stealth learning for all sorts of subjects.
Subscription boxes can take some of the pressure off when your rhythm gets off. We adore Kiwi Crate for my 6-year-old and Tinker Crate for my 11-year-old.
Outsource some of the homeschool work! We are big fans of Reading Eggs for younger kids; Smartick is a wonderful math program for ages 12 and younger; Duolingo is a FREE foreign language program that my son and I enjoy; Outschool offers affordable online classes for all ages. My son has taken classes on Wilderness Survival, Harry Potter Potions, and Dragons from East to West!
Barn Chores (the animals have to eat and get their daily doses of love and affection)
Simplifying our days as much as possible helps tremendously.
Some days our plans still go awry. Some days the kids may only make it to their ballet lessons and that’s it! It’s OK. You may or may not keep that circus poodle on your head…while jumping through flaming hoops.
Those are the days when we break out our Troll Movie Soundtrack for a spontaneous dance party…in the front yard…
Oh, what must the neighbors think?!
VID 20170907 123410 - YouTube
It’s your turn. Tell me what you do when you’ve lost your homeschool rhythm?
Fantastic Online Art Lessons with Masterpiece Society Studio
Folks, I am so flipp’in excited to have discovered a new online art membership site that can help my little artists learn EVERYTHING about art and quench their thirst for watercolors, drawing, painting, and everything in between!
Not only are my kiddos learning about the master artists and their techniques, but they are learning about history and the different eras of art too!
My daughter has truly blossomed in her artistic abilities since we began these fantastic online art lessons. Just check out her Van Gogh Sunflowers!
Folks, she’s five… and it’s becoming glaringly obvious that she needs her creative outlets…EVERYDAY!
Like…I can’t keep up…
This is why online art lessons are super important for creative kids.
Mixing with the Masters, Volume 1: Van Gogh Sunflowers
Incorporating Art Into Your Homeschool
Outsourcing is sometimes a necessity.
Thank goodness for Alisha Gratehouse!
Wait… you’re probably wondering who Alisha Gratehouse is?
Alisha Gratehouse is an artist, art instructor, homeschooler, and homeschool blogger. She created The Masterpiece Society as a way to give homeschool moms inspirational and quality access to art lessons that were hands-on and educational.
My kids think Alisha is wonderful and has the most soothing voice…
Like a Bob Ross, but prettier and with manicured nails, ha!
Her membership site provides fantastic online art lessons and workshops that are fun and safe for children, moms, and teens alike!
Mixing with the Masters, Volume 1: Van Gogh Sunflowers
Masterpiece Society Online Membership: What’s Included
As a member of the Masterpiece Society, you will receive INSTANT online access to almost all of Alisha’s current courses!
Playful Pet Portraits
Mixing with the Masters, Volume 1
The Art of Fall Mixed Media Workshop
Mixing with the Masters, Volume 2
Art School: Drawing 101
Celebrate Summer Mixed Media Workshop
Art School: Watercolor 101
Winter Wonderland Mixed Media Workshop
Art School: Acrylics 101
Springtime Splendor Mixed Media Workshop
Art School: Pastels and Oils 101
Valentines Day Mini Mixed Media Workshop
Art School 101
I’m SUPER excited about these Art School courses! Here’s an overview of what the Art School 101 will cover…
Elements of Art
Principles of Design
Value and Intensity
Color Wheel/Color Mixing
Perspective and Vanishing Point
Shapes and Negative Space
As part of the Valentines Day Mini Mixed Media Workshop, the kids made these Abstract Hearts for a VERY SPECIAL Valentine.
Exclusive Member Content
Step by Step Drawings for K-2
Coloring Pages for Preschoolers
Create and Connect Area for Moms
Exclusive Holiday Art Lessons
From the Connect and Create for Moms: Here is my Abstract Iris with Acrylics and Chalk Pastels
You’ll receive EVERY NEW ART COURSE released during the course of your membership! Here’s what’s coming in 2019:
Art and Literature
Masterpiece Society Online Membership: What’s NOT Included
Are you homeschooling with depression? You are not alone! I deal with depression year-round, and I have for years. Your depression may look different than mine, but we are both homeschool moms doing the best we can for our kids, our families, and ourselves.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement for more information. *Disclaimer – I am not an expert, doctor, or medical professional. I do not claim to cure or treat any disease. I am only sharing my personal experience with depression. If you are suffering from depression please talk to your doctor.*
Homeschooling with Depression
I wake up to the roosters crowing on the farm. Another day of grey and rain and dread. I just want to roll over and stay burrowed in my bed covers forever.
But I must adult.
I’ll get the kids their breakfast and get them set up with a couple of homeschooly things to keep them occupied for a little while.
I head to my room for a bit of exercise. Exercise is supposed to help the blues after all. But after 30 minutes of what should be an energetic workout, I settle on my mat for a cry.
This is more than a simple case of the blues.
It’s Depression. That overwhelming sadness and despair that permeates every part of my being. It makes me feel like an absolute failure. I’m supposed to have it all together right?
If only that were so.
I am a homeschool mom that struggles with clinical depression.
What Depression Can Look Like
It’s been an especially tough winter for me, folks. Every single day has been a struggle.
You see, depression hit me like a ton of bricks this year. I stopped doing all the things I love gardening, photography, knitting, even writing. It all just felt too hard. My limbs too heavy as if they had weights attached to them. I’m just so tired.
Depression causes me to struggle with my self-esteem and self-worth. Then there is the anxiety, despair, fear, and worry that creeps into my mind. What do I have to be depressed about? How can I not be happy? I must be such a disappointment to my family and friends.
It whispers, “Why try? You’re not good enough anyway.”
Feelings of worthlessness and self-blame congregate at the edges of the mind.
My life for all intents and purposes is a good one, a beautiful one. Yet, internally I’m suffering.
I tell ya, the mental conversation going on in your head when you are in the midst of depression is hairy scary, folks. It also becomes a vicious cycle that tries to pull you deeper and deeper into that grey, dark fog.
Depression is a bully.
Homeschool Mom and Depression
For this homeschool mom, depression is kinda like the heavy lead covering the dentist lays over you before taking X-rays. Except it’s not just over your chest. It’s also across your shoulders and over your back. Depression sneaks up and attack’s you while simultaneously lying to you.
Depression is in your head and yet it’s not. It’s very real. Just as real as any other medical condition.
Everything takes on a dull feeling. Except for the anxiety and worry. Those feelings take center stage.
Normal feelings and thoughts feel muffled and you can’t seem to think clearly. It’s as if you’re listening to a conversation while underwater.
Depression is Complicated and Isolating
But depression is an invisible illness to the outside world and that makes it tricky and complicated.
Everyone experiences depression in a way that is unique to them and their circumstances.
Depression doesn’t care who you are, where you come from, your age, race, or your education. For me, there are days I struggle to get out of bed. I force myself to shower and brush my teeth. Some days I cry on the bathroom floor while the shower runs so that no one will hear me.
You begin to wonder if you’ll ever be happy again.
You want to be seen, but you want to disappear into the shadows at the same time. You crave connection and affection. Yet may draw away from it when it’s offered.
You smile on the outside and go about your day as if you are perfectly fine.
You want to hide your experience, isolate yourself, and retreat from everything.
Depression can affect every aspect of your life.
Talk About Depression with Your Support System
My doctors and therapists are helping me navigate this tricky time in my life. Homeschool mom self-care is more important than ever as is talking about my depression with my support system and asking for help when I need it.
I do have a great support system.
I’m beginning to see glimpses of light beyond the fog.
Remember to do what you need to do to get the help you need and feel well. These may include:
eating healthy meals
getting plenty of sunshine
I’m more intentional about taking our puppy for walks. Sometimes my husband will watch the kids while I go and grab a quiet cup of Chai tea. I’m allowing myself more space, folks.
Then there are the funny cat videos my hubby sends me daily. I find myself laughing again.
Whatever works, right?
But there isn’t one single thing that guarantees my depression will lift or that it will lift when I think it should.
Today would be great, thanks!
Homeschooling with Depression is Possible
So, here’s the thing, homeschooling can be challenging for anyone. It becomes infinitely harder when you can’t find your joy. But it is still possible to homeschool with depression without shame or isolation.
I’ve talked with the kids about why mama is sad and that they did nothing to cause it. Did you know that depression tends to run in families? I know my grandmother, mother, and sisters have all dealt with it. But it was never talked about.
That was hard growing up.
I’m hoping that by learning to overcome my depression, I am modeling for my children how they can practice self-care for themselves or their future loved ones.
Even during the darkest times of my depression my husband and I still felt our kiddos were better off at home. They were still learning, active, engaged, and happy.
Homeschooling with Depression Means Taking It Easy on Yourself
You may need to lower your homeschool standards for a time and do the bare minimum until your depression lifts. This is also true during any major life changes such as new baby, death, move, or illnesses such as depression.
Here are some of the resources I use when homeschooling with depression that help me until I feel like me again.
Read alouds help build and keep those beautiful connections with our kiddos.
But, there may be days where you can’t muddle through a read aloud. That’s when Audiobooks come to the rescue! Around theWorld Stories are another form of audio that combines geography with stories.
Documentaries are loaded with educational benefits! Curiosity Stream is our favorite go-to for documentaries.
Games are an easy way to sneak in stealth learning for all sorts of subjects.
Subscription boxes can take some of the pressure off when you’re struggling. We adore Kiwi Crate for my 6-year-old and Tinker Crate for my 11-year-old.
Outsource some of the homeschool work! We are big fans of Reading Eggs for younger kids; Smartick is a wonderful math program for ages 12 and younger; Duolingo is a FREE foreign language program that my son and I enjoy; Outschool offers affordable online classes for all ages. My son recently took one on Dragons from East and West!
Remember to try and take advantage of your good days when you have them.
Go on field trips, go to the park, and meet up with friends! We still make our weekly library trips. Then there is our weekly reading to the local shelter animals and our homeschool group. I may not interact much with people while we’re out, but my kids are enjoying themselves and that’s what matters.
I’m working hard to overcome my depression, folks.
It is extremely HARD. But each day is a new opportunity for me.
It is my hope that other homeschooling mamas going through depression will know that they are not alone. I understand the place you are in. I’ve been there. I know how it feels and all that comes with it.
We are not failures for battling depression.
And there is no shame in getting the help you need. It may be the bravest thing you’ll ever do for yourself and your kids.
Have you gone through a period of homeschooling with depression? What helped you?