Category: Curriculum

CurriculumProduct Review

My Teaching Library- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We were recently given the opportunity to join the Download Club from My Teaching Library. Over the last few weeks, we have been able to add some fun resources to our homeschool life. My Teaching Library is geared for homeschool families and offers a wide variety of downloadable resources. Printables are available from preschool all the way through high school. I am particularly excited about the SAT prep for my high schooler.

You can use My Teaching Library to purchase indivdual resources or subcribe for either an annual or a lifetime member to access all the resources. Joining the Download Club is the most cost efficient. We were given a one year access. For comparison sake, the annual membership is $45/ year. The lifetime membership is $225. The SAT prep that I downloaded for my son would be $9.99 to buy individually and the Fall Scrapbooking referenced below would be $3.75. You can see that purchasing the individual resources would add up rather quickly! The membership to the Download Club is definitely the way to go!

The website is somewhat easy to navigate. I did find some aspects to be a little cumbersome like hovering over the menus or trying to search for a specific key word or topic. You can serach by grade or subject. It has plenty of academic as well as elective subjects. We recently went apple picking. I had my daughter pick a page from the Fun Fall Scrapbooking and Notebooking download to complete.

I threw down an apple at my mom and she did not catch it and it got bruised.

She enjoyed picking a picture to add to the page and writing about how I did not catch the apple she so carefully picked.

My Teaching Library is a resource that can be folded into any homeschool style. You could use it if you need a little extra math or reading help. You could use it to download lapbooking resources for unit studies. If your child has an interest, you will likely find some type of resource on My Teaching Library to help you incorporate it into your school. You can even find videos, textbook, and interactive learning. To be honest, I think you could use My Teaching Library to build your whole homeschool year.

Once you find a resource you want to use, you can click to download. This does not immediately download to your computer, but rather sends the resource to your “downloads” on your account. You can then navigate to your downloads and proceed to download to your computer or device. You also get an email with your purchase receipt (free for Download Club Members) and a link to download.

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Our Elementary School Plans 2020-2021

**This post contains affiliate links**

I know it is a whole thing… time speeding up as you get older… years clipping by at a crazy rate of speed. 2020 has been the longest year and also the quickest year and the weirdest year. It seems as if a pause should have been put on all things, but yet they keep going! Just like that, summer came and went! I wasn’t ready! I wasn’t ready to give up the evening light, the days at the pool, summer camp, gardening. I wasn’t ready for school to start back, but it was time.

I made a commitment to myself to be more intentional with my younger two this year. They have not gotten the best of me in the last couple of years. I took a position at our church working with the youth group and shifted my focus to all things middle and high school. Our extra curriculars and get togethers have been all about my older two with my younger two tagging along behind. This attitude and rhythm trickled into our school time as well and I realized at the end of last year that I really did those girls a disservice. I intend to right that wrong this year with more intentional time.

With that said, I also know that life happens and have learned to hold loosely to plans. Here are the plans I have made (and hope to follow through with) for the 2020-2021 school year for my 3rd and 5th grade gals!


I was scrolling through Instagram one day and came across a post from Carisa at 1+1+1=1 all about visual reading lists. The idea just struck me and got me excited about the school year. I just needed one little punch in the arm and Carisa’s pics did the trick. I dove into her blog posts, gleaned from her wisdom, and used some of her free printables to put together visual reading lists for each of my girls (3rd, 5th, and 8th grade), choosing my own list of books for them.

Here’s how we are using the visual reading lists… Each girl has a required amount of books to read. My 3rd grader has eight required books and then eight more once she finishes. She is reading much faster than I anticipated! My 5th grader has six required books and then a few optional if she finishes those. In their notebooks, I have put dividers and a section for each book using the printables from 1+1+1=1. They are required to read for at least twenty minutes per day and work in their notebooks. For more book ideas, check out my Pinterest Reading List Boards.

I made a chapter tracker for each book in Google Docs using an image of the cover and inserting a table.

If you would like to have a copy of our visual reading lists, click below:

Writing/ Language Arts

We were given an opportunity through the Homeschool Review Crew to use IEW’s Style and Structure Level A. Last year, I used Level C with my high schooler and was very impressed. I have come to really appreciate IEW. I decided to use Level A of Structure and Style for my elementary girls this year as their main writing curriculum. To be honest, it is a little much for my 3rd grader. She gets frustrated and ends in tears often. She enjoys the videos and understands the concepts, but when it comes to the actual work, she has a hard time keeping up. My 5th grader is tracking and doing very well with the program.

We are using Fix It Grammar along with the Structure and Style Level A program. We are using the first book, The Nose Tree.


We are continuing with Math U See. The third grader is in Gamma and the 5th grader is in Delta.


We were given access to Journey Homeschool’s Elementary Astronomy through the Homeschool Review Crew. You can read my review HERE.

We usally do science on Tuesday and Thursday. The Astronomy course has a short video and then suggested activities, copywork, memorization, and reading lists.

Putting it All Together

I got these book storage bins from Amazon. I like these because they are long enough to hold a three ring binder. All of the materials my girls need for the day can be found in their box. They return their completed work to the boxes at the end of the day.

Each of the girls has a composition notebook. I let them pick a fun design from Target. I write a checklist for them each day. This helps them see what is expected and work at their own pace. Some things we do together… like their writing and science… and some things are independent. Teaching these girls self- regulation has been so important. We recently got them both a Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 Watch. My 5th grader has the Star Wars theme and the 3rd grader has the Frozen theme. In addition to the physical fitness goals, we can program in chores they need to complete. They can also set timers and use a stop watch which have been super helpful when it comes to reading, practicing piano, etc.

I am trying to leave space for exploration of interests and time with friends. Our homeschool co-op cancelled classes for this Fall. I have no idea what the Spring holds. I have let our classes be my fall back opportunity for my girls to spend time with their friends. Without it, I am having to be more intentional… which is just fine. We are taking more advantage of park days and other fellowship opportunities.

How about you? What are you doing for your elementary age kids this year?

Curriculumelementary schooliewProduct Review

IEW Structure and Style Level A- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

This post contains affiliate links.

If you’ve been around here and read any of my posts, you’ll know that we are fairly new to the world of The Institute for Excellence in Writing®. Last year, my oldest went through Structure and Style Level C and we were really impressed. When the chance to review Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A from IEW came along, I glady accepted it with my 3rd and 5th graders in mind.

Before last year, my only experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing®. was through the lens of, in my opinion, high strung, stressed out homeschool moms. It was always confusing when it was explained to me and always seemed to be coming from people who weren’t adhering to the same homeschool philosophy as me. However, I attended the NCHE Thrive conference last year where Andrew Pudewa was a keynote speaker. He is the founder and face of IEW. I was so impressed with his talks and how he approaches home education that I went to the booth and asked more questions. By the end of the conference, I was sold on the program and excited to give it a try.

One of my school related goals for my kids is to produce effective writers. I want them to be strong communicators both in spoken and written word. We have never really used a writing curriculum before and I am so excited about using Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A this year.


Each of these programs provides a complete writing curriculum. You will find everything you need to get started right away, including:

  • Student Binder and Packet
  • Teacher’s Manual
  • Your choice of DVD or Streaming instructional videos

The course includess 24 lessons, taught by Andrew Pudewa. To be honest, I thought my kids were going to find him cheesey and not want to watch the videos. I was wrong. They were really able to connect with his sense of humor and engaging teaching style. Honestly… I found myself yelling out answers to his questions as if I were really in his class.

The binder, packet, and teacher’s manual are well put together and very organized. Everything is clearly written out and easy to follow. This makes implementing the class very easy and seamless in a homeschool or co op environment. All materials your child needs can be found in the student binder and also a notebook. You receive the streaming instructions, student binder and packet and teacher’s manual.

A suggested weekly schedule is provided. I have noticed that we are able to advance at our own speed. When a concept is easily understood, we can move quickly through the lesson. When we need to spend more time on a topic, we can slow down. Because we have access to the forever streaming videos, we have the freedom to work at our own pace. I love that there are literature suggestions to go along with each unit. The suggestions make for excellent read alouds. In Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A, some of the literature suggestions include Little House on the Prairie, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and more. I love how the program does not just teach writing in isolation, but incorporates grammar, style, and literature. It is a solid, well constructed program.

One thing that stood out to me when listening to Andrew Pudewa speak was concerning grade levels. He mentioned that when a student begins violin, they start at the very basic level despite their age. The same can be applied to writing. If you have a student who has little experience with writing, you start them at the beginning despite their age. While Level A may be more geared toward younger writers, you could certainly begin there with a middle or high school student who does not have much experience.

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The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed the various levels of Structure and Style for Students. Be sure to check out what they have to say. Click the banner below:

Curriculumelementary schoolProduct Review

Journey Homeschool Academy Experience Astronomy- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

**Please note: This Post Contains Affiliate Links**

Y’all. I think I have hit my limit on thinking about all the things. We go through seasons in our homeschool. I go through seasons as a homeschool mom and I think I am cycyling to a season where I just need someone else to do the work for me. I love being creative… I really, really do. I love piecing together and creating curriculum and classes and projects. Finding out what my kids want to learn about and making it happen is the heartbeat of my homeschool mama heart. But… I am tired. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders every morning before I even get out of bed. I need some help this year to make sure my children are getting the very best of me. You can imagine how thrilled I was when we were given Experience Astronomy: Elementary from Journey Homeschool Academy.

Science and History are the two areas where I fall behind the most. I usually rely on our homeschool association’s enrichment classes to fill in some gaps for me, but those have been canceled for the fall because of the Rona. My girls (ages 8 and 10) were super excited when I told them about Experience Astronomy: Elementary. I am so grateful for the age in which we live and the ability to access amazing online classes such as the ones offered from Journey Homeschool Academy.

Experience Astronomy: Elementary is an online, video based course. The website is easy to navigate and help is abundant. Each lesson has a main video (about 15- 20 minutes long), a memory video to help reinforce concepts, and extra material like the instructions for hands on activities, verses to trace, and a quiz.

Lesson One includes the instructions to make a shoe box planetarium. I love that this is not just an online, video class. It includes super fun activities as well as a reading list of books (most available through the library).

Each lesson includes a quiz in the extra materials tabs. As you can see, the class is presented from a Christian Worldview. I LOVE this. All truth is God’s truth. God cares about Science. I love when we can show our kids how science has a part to play in God’s kingdom.

I am super excited to use Experience Astronomy: Elementary with my 3rd and 5th grade girls. They are always asking for science. I start strong and never seem to make it past the first week or so. I tried last year… I really did. We tried a Nature Study and then a Human Body Science. I just tapered off and the girls quit asking. I have high hopes for this year. This Astronomy Course from Journey Homeschool Academy has done an amazing job of offering an engaging and complete 30 week course. This is just what I need this year!

Journey Homeschool Academy also offer Biology for Elementary and Upper Level. I am seriously considering getting the Upper Level Biology for my 8th grader this year.

Be sure to follow Journey Homeschool Academy:

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Getting Started Homeschooling Part 8- High School

When my oldest was just started out and we were beginning our homeschool journey, I remember worrying and scurrying to get all the things. He needed an easel. He needed colored pencils and crayons and notebooks and workbooks and curriculum. We needed a designated school area. We needed a schedule. I needed to check boxes.

As time went on, I realized that a beautiful part of homeschooling is not having to recreate school at home. I was a classroom teacher before having kids and I thought that homeschooling meant having to set up a classroom in our home. If that’s your jam… go for it. BUT… if the idea of having to have all the things to be a successful homeschooler is stressing you out… in the words of Elsa… Let it Go!

For years I was able to adapt and adopt our delight directed approach. I gave up many preconceived notions and began to include the kids in the learning goals and material choices. It was a beautiful thing. But then… Then my oldest went into ninth grade and that familiar panic crept back in. All of the sudden I felt like I needed all the things. Like my son needed all the things or I was going to completely fail him and leave him unprepared for the world. I started entertaining the thought of buying curriculum, enrolling him in classes, putting him in school. Somehow highschool just felt scary. Like the game just got more real.

As I was in a flurry of planning and explaining to my son all the things he would have to do, he said, “Wait… I thought we were unschooling delight directed kind of people…how does that work with high school?”

He was right… why would I need to change our philosophy and vision now? How could I continue with interest led learning? How do we continue create life long learners?

Please remember that I am living in North Carolina. My homeschool experience and knowledge of the law is through the North Carolina lens. Please do your due diligence and research the homeschool laws in your own state. Some states are more regulated and some are less.

In North Carolina, there are no requirements to graduate high school. You, the parent, are the chief administrator of your school and therefore create and set the learning goals. However… if you have a college bound child… it would behoove you to look into the requirements for admission and work backwards from there. Not every student will go to college. I have told my kids that I don’t know if they are college bound, but I am not going to be the reason they don’t have the option. I will build our homeschool in such a way that they have the option to go to college when they graduate.

I heard a friend describe homeschooling highschool like this… the core subjects… like math and language arts and history and science are the scaffolding on which the school experience is built. You have to have those core subjects to build the foundation. When you have those in place, you can design your education to fit your interests and needs.

Most colleges look for students to complete 4 English courses, 3 Math courses, 3 Science (with two of those being lab sciences), 3 Social Studies, 1 Health, 1 PE, and 6 Electives. Now… HOW you complete those can be flexible and creative. Some areas of study have little wiggle room… like math. Sorry… but Algebra seems to be a non-negotiable. I told my son that if he could find a solid college within a 300 mile radius of our home with an arts program that did not require Algebra for admissions…we could totally look into dropping Algebra from our school… but until then… he just needed to do it! Not everything is pleasant or fun. Sometimes we just have to endure and work through hard things. That is life and learning endurance and resiliency is super important.

Tips for Homeschooling High School

  1. Involve Your Student. Sit down with your student and look at the scaffolding for the year. Involve them in the choices for their scaffolding and for their electives. What do they want to pursue? When you include them in the planning, it goes well for both of you!
  2. Steer Towards Independence. Let your student have control where they can. Let them be mindful of their workspace, of their schedule and managing their time. Allow room for growth and for error. Your child is not you. They may have a different way of looking at things, organizing things, accomplishing tasks. Give them the freedom to learn themselves and be successful in their way.
  3. Encourage Interests and Passions. You may notice this has been a common theme throughout my Getting Started Homeschooling Series. One of my major goals for my kids when they leave my homeschool is to be able to identify what they want to learn and have the ability to go after it. I want them to know how to learn. While under my roof, they should have the ability to experiment, fail, and succeed. If they want to be an entreprenuer- we will learn about good business practice. If they want a career in food, we will seek out opportunities to learn more. Maybe give them a specific night of each week that is theirs to create the menu, plan, and prepare dinner for the family.
  4. Be creative in your records. A trap I think we fall into as parents and educators is that we have to complete a book or course in one school year. We think that the disciplines should be separate… like chemistry and home economics are two different things. Or math and life skills do not over lap. But they do. My son took a food Chemistry class last year. He learned about cooking and his labs consisted of food related experiments (that often ended up in a delicious dinner for the rest of us!). Maybe your child doesn’t take specific computer skills course, but rather you incorporate using Google tools like Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. into their regular rhythm of school. At the end of four years, you can look back and see the hours of training put into learning word processing, spreadsheets, etc. and you record a Computer Skills class on their transcript.
  5. Encourage Volunteer Work and Service. Teach your student to be a good human. How can they use their time and talents to give back to the community. Not only does this prepare them to be compassionate adults… it also looks good on a college application! Look for local opportunities to serve… help in a food pantry, do yard work for seniors, read books to children (or animals apparently at the local animal shelter), write letters to seniors who are trapped in retirement communities with no visitors due to COVID, organize a silent auction with proceeds going to a local charity, collect coats and blankets for the homeless, deliver meals on wheels… opportunities to serve are out there. Encourage your teen to find them and engage.

Your involvement in your teen’s high school homeschool experience can vary from teacher to tutor to guidance counselor to bus driver to cheerleader. You are preparing a young adult to launch into this world. They aren’t ready yet… they will still need you! Hold loosely to your highschooler as they grow more towards independence each day. You may be surprised with what they can do!

Last tip… know your strengths and weaknesses. You do not have to teach all the things. Goodness… high school sciences and math… whew… outside my wheelhouse! I am so thankful for online resources and classes. My oldest will be taking Spanish online through Luma Learn. He is going to do book studies through Progeny Press for his Language Arts. We are currently working on creating a small co op where he can learn with other high schoolers. Classes will include world history as seen through the arts and public speaking. Lean on your community. Realize that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Tons and tons and tons of resources are out there for you! Easy Peasy, Khan Academy, and School Yourself are just a few of the great FREE options out there! has put together a great option that takes the guess work out for you. They are offering virtual “Boxed” curriculum through your membership. This is really great because veteran homeschoolers have curated courses to create a wonderful and full homeschool year. And guess what!!! There is a great sale going on right now with Schoolhouse Teachers. Buy one year, get the second FREE! Two years for just $179 (and you get a free tote bag… just saying!).

Other topics I’ll be covering in this “Getting Started Homeschooling Series” are: