How We “Do School”…

How WE Do School + Our 2017-18 Curriculum!

My approach to homeschooling and raising babies: Cultivate the whole child: body, mind and spirit.



Today, I’ll be sharing how we do school, document it and our curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year.

Homeschooling can be an extremely tough path to take if you don’t have your own personal rhythm. Our current rhythm is free flowing, it’s just what works for us. The biggest mistake I made when we first began this journey was comparing myself to others. I’ve learned that just like life, our homeschool is not meant to resemble the homeschooling methods of others. It’s also not meant to closely reflect a traditional public school setting. Homeschooling doesn’t have to be public-school-at-home. Homeschooling gives us freedom to be creative!

The first piece of advice that I’d give to new homeschoolers: Find your own rhythm and style of teaching. Not your neighbor’s, not that Instagram account with all of the dreamy photos, not your mother-in-law’s, but yours.

We combine unschooling, freeschooling, traditional, eclectic and relaxed homeschooling. You know, the whole kitchen sink. Year round. We don’t cram everything into 180 days, because honestly that’s just not enough time and learning happens everyday, not only Monday – Friday, 8-3 (or whatever amount of time kids are in school these days),  August – early June. It’s OK to follow more than one philosophy, it’s also OK not strictly follow just one philosophy.

How does it all get documented? EVERNOTE!

When I discovered Erin Condren Teacher Planners (ECTP) my heart bursted with happiness but, shortly afterwards, paper planning became a bit overwhelming.


Let’s be real, I’m too busy (hello wife to a hot hubby and mama of 4 boys under 6) and freespirited to sit down each day or night documenting in extensive detail what we’ve covered that day. Lesson planning, alone, can make you just want to quit altogether. At the beginning of each week I’d get all of my children’s workbooks out and write out what we’d cover for the week ahead in my ECTP.

Doing that was a horrible idea, for me. It made me feel as if I had to rush my children to complete their assignments. If something didn’t get done, I felt defeated. But rush for who? The state of North Carolina doesn’t require us to complete a certain curriculum within one calendar year. They don’t even require us to lesson plan, although it’s recommended. One of the many reasons that we homeschool is for freedom. And preplanning quickly took that freedom away.

In addition to that, I document everything that we do and writing space or lack thereof soon became a problem.


So one night I made an Evernote plus account and our homeschooling life changed forever!

{evernote.com} Evernote is available in the App Store.

It’s divided into notebooks which stores hundreds of notes.Our first notebook, labeled “2016-2017 Overview” contains our:

  • mission statement
  • education outlook
  • curriculum items and resources used for each grade level
  • annual book log
  • memberships

At the beginning of each month I create a new notebook with the month’s name to log each and EVERY activity that we do into it separately. Some notes are extensively detailed while others just have a few words and/or a photo(s). I document almost every detail of our lives. Because learning happens each minute whether you realize it or not.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by overly preplanning or pulling out my chunky ECTP at the end of the night to write down what we did each day (if I remember it all), I simply snap photos throughout the day and log numerous notes into EVERNOTE. My planner isn’t always on me or nearby, but my phone is! If for some reason the State Board of Education ever wants to see our lesson plans, I could simply email them an Evernote link to have access to it.

My virtual lesson plans are littered with: pictures of books that we’ve read, screenshots of YouTube videos we’ve watched and sites we’ve visited, pictures of BluRay covers, screenshots of weather reports after we’ve discussed the current weather, photos of completed worksheets/workbooks, pictures of the TV with whatever film or show that’s on, pictures of my children’s artwork, photos of my kiddos doing activities, detailed text as well as not so detailed text etc.
Check out the screenshots below for examples of our notes! (Please note that you can only see 3-4 lines of text if you don’t open up the actual note! Also: After about a month of EN documentation, I started dating each notebook with whatever week of school that we are on.)

Any trip out of the home is considered a field trip. Needless to say, we’ve had over 100 field trips this year! [i.e. – the library, Walmart’s Garden Center, downtown to pay utilities, the playground, bible study @ the neighbors’ etc.

Not every note has photos, some simply have text describing what we’ve covered.

The Weather Channel app is so helpful to have! In addition to the weather, they post several interesting/educational videos, daily!

My kindergartener asked me: where does dust come from? And that led to more questions and answers, as well as a Google search and YouTube videos.

EVERYTHING IS SCHOOL!

  • Outside play = physical education, balance, science, insect study (#boymom!), physics, senses, questions & answers, community etc.
  • Library trip: silent sustained reading, decision making, socialization, research instruction etc.
  • LEGOS, building blocks, K’nex = Science, technology, engineering, art, math, design, small motor skills, critical thinking etc.
  • Gardening = science.
  • Chores = Home Ec., manual art, life skills etc.
  • Grocery store trip = consumer math, health and hygiene, socialization, following instructions correctly, time & money etc.
  • NatGeo, TLC, CNN, Animal Planet etc. Shows = health, science, history, social studies, current events etc.
  • Whether it’s at the dining room table, backyard, in the car or on the living room floor, school happens everywhere!

I could go on and on and on and on. This is how I document “simple life activities” as educational activities in our lesson plans.

Health and Hygiene 😉

I’ve mentioned previously that under North Carolina law, we aren’t required to log anything except for attendance, but I do because I enjoy keep up with my children’s progress and you never know what could happen… But for the fact that  we aren’t required by law to keep documentation, I really don’t sweat it if I forget to write something down.We house quite a variety of workbooks, references, textbooks and such BUT school doesn’t have to be any of those things. We simply combine them with life itself!

Daily routine: 

Everyday is different, but we do try to begin each day with Bible time and getting all of the wiggles out, by going outside if the weather permits.

Some days and weeks are more structured than others. I make sure that school materials are always easily accessible to the kiddos. Many times they will grab whatever they are interested in off of the bookshelves and I’ll help them with it, explaining and answering the questions that they may have. During more structured times, I will lay out our “work load” for the day.

Our 2017/18 year round curriculum choices!

For First grade Language Arts we’ll be using Abeka K5, simply to build upon our current phonics foundation as we move transition into the grade 1 curriculum and for the fact that Abeka seems to be a grade level up (although that’s not important!) in their phonics department. By God’s grace, I have a budding little reader on my hands now!

We will also be using Abeka for 1st grade social studies and science.

For Kindergarten language arts we will also be using Abeka.

For both Kindergarten and First grade we will be using Saxon math K and Saxon Math 1, part 2 (we completed part 1 during our kindergarten year). The manipulatives are designed to be used up to third grade.

We’ll be using these workbooks to serve as a review during our short break before we began the 2017-18 school year.

Our First grade curriculum items:

  • Getting Ready for First Grade (cbd.com)
  • Smart Alec, Reading Comprehension (cbd.com)
  • Smart Alec, Writing (cbd.com)
  • Sight Word Daily Practice, Lakeshore Learning (lakeshorelearning.com)
  • Reading Readiness, School Zone (Dollar Tree)
  • Spelling Puzzles, School Zone (Dollar Tree)
  • Manuscript Writing, School Zone (Dollar Tree)
  • Language Arts, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • Homework Helpers Word Searches, Carson Dellosa Education (cbd.com)
  • Homework Helpers First Grade Activites, Carson Dellosa Education (cbd.com)
  • On The Farm Activies, Teacher Created Resources (Dollar Tree)
  • Numbers 1-12, School Zone (I think this is actually part of our Kinder curriculum 😆) (Dollar Tree)
  • Common Core Subtraction (rainbowresource.com)
  • The American Flag, With Numbers (rainbowrsource.com)
  • Smart Alec, Math Word Problems (cbd.com)
  • Science, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • Rocks and Minerals Sticker Activity Book, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • Swamp Life Sticker and Activity Book, Little Dover Activity Books (rainbowresource.com)
  • Learning About Frogs and Toads Sticker and Activity Book, Little Dover Activity Books (rainbowresource.com)
  • Birds, Little Dover Activity Books (rainbowresource.com)
  • Bible Dot-to-Dots 1-25, School Zone (Dollar Tree)
  • Bible Dot-to-Dots ABCs, School Zone (Dollar Tree)
  • Joseph’s Great Adventure Reusable Sticker Book (cbd.com)
  • Exploring God’s Word Activity Book (cbd.com)
  • Gospel Fun for Little Ones (cbd.com)
  • Angels Stained Glass Coloring Book (cbd.com)
  • Chagall Art Stickers (rainbowresource.com)
  • Common Core for First Grade (this is actually for me to use, while I’m not the biggest fan of anything ‘common core’ it’s helpful to see where the kiddos measure up if they were to be in public school or if something unforeseen happened and we had to put them in PS)

Kindergarten curriculum items:

  • Getting Ready For Kindergarten (cbd.com)
  • Language Arts, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • First Words Homework Helper (Dollar Tree)
  • My First Words Sticker Activities (Dollar Tree)
  • My Favorite Words Sticker Book (Dollar Tree)
  • Smart Alec, Writing (cbd.com)
  • Math Made Easy Extra Practice, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • Mastering the Standards Mathematics (rainbowresource.com)
  • Science, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • Geography, DK Publishing (cbd.com)
  • Bible Dot-to-Dot ABCs (Dollar Tree)
  • Bible Dot-to-Dot 1-25 (Dollar Tree)
  • Gospel Fun for Little Ones (cbd.com)
  • Exploring God’s Word (cbd.com)
  • Dinosaur Sticker Activity Book, Dover Little Activity Books (rainbowresource.com)
  • Create Your Own Robot Sticker Activity Book, Little Dover Activity Books (rainbowresource.com)
  • Angels Stained Glass Coloring Book, Dover Little Activity Books (cbd .com)
  • Common Core for Kindergarten

Readers and resources for the coming year:

These little readers are just adorable! They are great for life lessons, Bible study and building reading skills. Available at cbd.com!

A few math, science and geography supplements.

  • world map placemat (rainbowresource.com)
  • United States placemat (rainbowresource.com)
  • learning about money placemat (rainbowresource.com)
  • plainless subtraction placemat (rainbowresource.com)
  • fractions placemat (rainbowresource.com)
  • easy to use laminated number line (rainbowresource.com)
  • punctuation and parts of speech bookmark reference (rainbowresource.com)
  • US presidents and state capitals bookmark reference (rainbowresource.com)
  • passport kits for various states (rainbowresource.com)
  • educational spinner: guide to the sky (Dollar Tree)
  • educational spinner: the color wheel (Dollar Tree)
  • educational spinner: life cycle of a frog (Dollar Tree)
  • muddle puzzle (rainbowresource.com)
  • kingly crown sticky mosaic kits (rainbowresource.com)

Various add-ons and other helpful things…

For Science, our Tinker/Inventor’s Boxes! These are from the 2016-17 school year but will definitely be used this coming year!


We collect various {FREE} state guides and maps to add onto geography lessons!


Our Geography Basket.

Part of flashcard stash… because you can never have enough! 😉

Local donation truck, carrying away our donated items. As usual, throughout the year, we plan to donate more items to our Veterans and anyone in need as an act of Service and social studies.


Our Art Display. Basically their art wall. We decorate their room with their art for 2 reasons: 1) to save our walls from getting marked up by our toddler! 😅😆 2) so that they can see their work and be encouraged to do more! As a bonus: it definitely saves up storage space!

All of the items pictured in this post are from: abeka.com, cbd.com, Dollar Tree and rainbowresource.com!
Not pictured are items such as board games, puzzles, other learning toys and a few reference materials.We are constantly adding on new items as we go through the school year.Now, you may see all of these things and think, whoa, what happened to the non textbook/workbook approach?! Well the thing is, school is all about my children. They love having these types of learning tools! Which keeps me on my toes to plan somewhat ahead of time (even if it’s just in my mind or a list on my phone), and to research and purchase helpful materials.I hope that you found this post helpful and encouraging! Homeschooling can definitely be hard and even overwhelming, but the year round approach has helped us so much!

xo, Shar

2 thoughts on “How We “Do School”…

  1. This is all so great!! You are so right that each homeschool needs to be adjusted for each family! but I still love the inspiration from other homeschoolers. We’ve been homeschooling for over 8 years now, but it’s ever-evolving! 😉 Thanks for sharing what you do!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Psalm 17 + Priorities | Shar Martinez

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