Homeschool Planning: How I Plan Out Our Homeschool Year

We’re 3 days into our first grade year!¬† So far, so good!

(The Princess even surprised us by losing her first tooth today ūüôā¬† We almost thought she’d eaten it, but thankfully I found it next to her hamburger, lol.)

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you how I go about planning out our homeschool year….


Everyone plans differently.  Some prefer paper, while others prefer to plan electronically.  Me?  I do both!

I start with my computer and make an overview of our entire year.¬† (Yes, even technology-challenged me can do this!)¬† Here’s how:

  • Open an Excel document.
  • Down the left-hand side I enter all of the subjects we want to cover for the year.¬† Across the top, I fill in the week #.¬† Next line down goes the day of the week.¬† Next line down is for the actual date.¬† Finally, one more line down, is the number¬†of¬†the day of school we’re on (in our state it’s mandatory to attend 180 days of school so I like to keep track of that.)¬†¬†Oh, and below that, I highlight a row to fill in any holidays.
  • Between each week, I leave a column where I repeat the subjects, and fill it in with a color so that I can easily see the break for each week.

It looks like this:




*Just a note, the pink highlight is the break between weeks.¬† The yellow is only there because school has already started for us now and that’s how I keep track of what we’ve done, filling it in with color to mark it as completed.


All I have to do then is fill in an overview of what we’ll be doing each day for the entire year. Yes, really!¬† Hear me out; it’s not as difficult as it sounds.¬† Now, this isn’t the time to look and see that on Friday, January 8th we’ll be building a model of the Eiffel Tower made completely from cheese. No. Rather, it’s just a very general overview. For example, our geography book this year just happens to have 36 weeks worth of lessons, so, in my computer overview schedule I just write that we’re covering week one’s lessons in the week one spots.

Some things don’t work out so nicely like that and you have to do a little bit of math to figure out how to schedule them. Most everything I’ve used, though, has been 36 weeks or thereabouts, so it hasn’t been too much of a pain.

When my yearly overview is done, I wait. Yep. I wait until it’s nearly time for school to start, and then I fill in my first week’s lesson plan. This is the time that I take a closer look at what we’ll need for each lesson and what it is we’ll be covering. I fill it all into my handy-dandy planner:

A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner, by Mardel

A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner, by Mardel


I only¬†plan one week at a time this way.¬† My yearly overview has made this so simple to do now.¬† I just check the computer to see what I need to fill in for each day.¬† Then, I look at each subject individually to see if I need to gather any extras and also to make sure I understand what it is I’ll be teaching!¬† (So far for kindergarten and now first grade this hasn’t been too difficult–thankfully, lol.)¬† Any extras and any appointments we have that week are written down in the margin on the right-hand side of the page, and I also make a special note at the bottom of that day’s date.

As we go through the day and complete items, I color-fill the blocks on my computer and mark them off in my paper planner.¬† (Yes, I do both…I’m a better-safe-than-sorry kinda¬†girl and I do it *just in case* something awful would happen to my laptop.¬† Just in case.)

And that’s pretty much it!¬† Pretty simple, and other than a little bit of time to figure out the yearly overview, it makes our homeschool planning a breeze!

Hopefully it will be helpful to someone else out there ūüôā¬† If you have any questions or would like to share how you do your homeschool planning, please comment below!¬† I’d love to hear from you!


Homeschool Curriculum for First Grade…Our Choices!

The countdown is on and preparation is nearly complete (…and I have surprisingly been able to somewhat maintain a level of sanity!) so I thought I’d share with you our homeschool curriculum choices for first grade ūüôā


Last year (for Kindergarten), we chose to use Timberdoodle Company’s curriculum kit with a few additional add-ons to both meet our state requirements and introduce things that we personally wanted to implement into our homeschool. This year we are planning on doing something similar, but not exactly…

In researching this year I came across the name of a lady: Charlotte Mason. The more I learn about her educational methods, the more I know that this is the way I want to educate my daughter. Some things will be easier for me to implement than others; reading comes naturally and easy, but getting myself motivated to go outside for a while everyday may be a challenge. (I don’t know why, though, I love being outside once I get there!)

All of that to say that our homeschool this year will be mostly Timberdoodle with a distinct Charlotte Mason slant. If you’d like to see the specifics, keep reading ūüôā

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Bible Study & Morning Routine

Bible Study & Morning Routine

Bible Study & Morning Routine

I’ve decided to continue using the Bible Study Guide for All Ages as our morning Bible study.¬† The Princess and I have both learned so much from this study (for me, it has been a wonderful way to memorize those lists that you always wanted to and knew you should but just didn’t because, well, you have to memorize it!)¬† To keep costs down, though, we’re going to continue on through the beginner level.¬† (Grades 1-2 cost significantly more because you have to purchase a separate teacher’s guide for each lesson packet.)¬† We’ll re-evaluate when we complete all 416 lessons and decide if we need to use the primary level or if we can just jump into the intermediate level lessons.

To help us with scripture memorization, we’ll be using a CD called Sing the Word:¬† A new Commandment.

*Part of our morning routine will also focus on learning a new hymn and a new folksong each month.¬† We’ll be using the lists so kindly put together for us by the lovely ladies at Ambleside Online!




Math is where we will stray the most from the items provided in the Timberdoodle curriculum.¬† Last year, we used what came with our kit (Mathematical Reasoning A by the Critical Thinking Co).¬† While the Princess did learn from the book, it just wasn’t the best fit for her.¬† There was little in the way of explanation, and we ended up supplementing with lots of games (both online and off) as well as with¬†the first two books in the Life of Fred series.¬† By the time summer came, I knew that we needed to try something different.¬† Thankfully, I found just what we were looking for!

*Making Math Meaningful¬†by David Quine has really seemed to click with the Princess.¬† She is learning and enjoying math now!¬† I like that it tells you exactly what to say and do (although you don’t have to follow the script if you don’t want to).¬† I also like that it is so inexpensive.¬†¬†I purchased the¬†counting chips and links separately, and¬†unifix cubes are also on the way.¬† Everything else you need to use this book you’ll probably already have in¬†your home.¬† We started going through level 1 for review this summer, so when school begins, we’ll finish the book and move on to level 2.¬†¬†(And the Mathematical Reasoning B book that we got from Timberdoodle will become the review book next summer ūüėČ )

*Life of Fred.¬† The Princess enjoyed her Life of Fred books, so we’ll be continuing on with both Cats and Dogs.¬† We’ll do it once a week and have a¬†“Fred Friday”.

*The addition and subtraction wrap-ups and the Cuisenaire rods are extras from our Timberdoodle curriculum.¬† I’m sure we’ll use them at some point.






  • The Story of the World Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Famous Figures of Ancient Times
  • A Timeline for All Time by Vickie Froehlich

Both¬†The Story of the World and the Famous Figures are¬†from our Timberdoodle kit.¬† The timeline I purchased separately and we’ll work on together as a family.¬† I really enjoy all of the beautiful historic figures¬†that are included, and for the price, it is a great deal!




  • Daily Geography (Evan-Moor)
  • Scrunch Map

Again, both items are from our Timberdoodle kit.




  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright, and the Junior Notebook Journal
  • Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

The astronomy book is from our Timberdoodle curriculum.¬† The handbook and sketch diaries¬†will hopefully help us to get outside at least once a week for class!¬† I’m not sure how the two will work together, but we’ll see.




  • A Reason for Handwriting
  • The Usborne Very Big Maze Book

We used A Reason for Handwriting last year and saw a tremendous improvement in the Princess’ handwriting ability, so we’re sticking with it this year.¬† The teacher’s guide was purchased separately and was actually a very big help for the kindergarten year.¬† (When you buy it, you can use it for grades k-6, so it’s a good investment if you think you’ll use it.)¬† The Usborne Maze Book will just be a little added fun (and it’s a sneaky way to get her to practice!)

Language Arts

Language Arts

Language Arts

  • Language Smarts B (The Critical Thinking Co)
  • Daily 6-Trait Writing Grade 1

Again, both from our Timberdoodle kit.  They look like they will be a fun introduction to language arts and writing.


The majority of our reading material this year will come from Ambleside Online‘s Year 1.¬† We’ll be following their reading schedule and begin practicing our narration skills!¬† I’ll post these pics a little bigger so that you can see the titles.

These will be the readers the Princess will read to me (some from Timberdoodle, some from AO, and we’ll probably be making bi-weekly trips to the library):

Age-Appropriate Readers

Age-Appropriate Readers

Here are our daily read-alouds:



On the top is my Kindle.  Some of our AO books are on it.

And here are our free reads.¬† They’ll probably end up being our bedtime stories:






  • A Beka Health, Safety, & Manners 1

Our state requires that we teach health.¬† We used Horizons Health last year for Kindergarten (there just aren’t that many health curriculums for kindergarten) and I wasn’t a fan for most of the year.¬† So this year we’re going to give A Beka a try.




Rather than use what Timberdoodle sends as our main art curriculum, we’ll be using Meet the Masters.¬† I like that it incorporates artist study along with making art.¬† We used it a little bit last year, so we’ve already got our portfolios made and pictured above.¬† I actually found a great deal on it last year at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.




Last year’s music curriculum (Pfeiffer House Music) was just not a good fit for us.¬† I’m hoping that this program will be more enjoyable!¬† It looks like lots of fun, and like we’ll actually be learning, so we’ll see.


Sorry I don’t have a picture for it.¬† But it’s only online!¬† We’ll be watching one episode per week.

P.E.¬† The Princess has been in dance class for almost as long as she’s been alive (we started with Mommy & Me classes) and she’s continuing on this year with a first year of gymnastics.

And last but not least…




Yep, fun ūüôā¬† Not that the other stuff won’t be fun, but this will be miscellaneous fun and games, art, handicrafts, go outside and run around like crazy, take a break from the more difficult subjects kind of time.¬† A lot of the stuff in the picture above is from Timberdoodle–the extras that came with our kit last year that we didn’t quite finish (or that you can play again and again), and the extras in the kit this year, too.¬† We’ll see how it changes as the year progresses.¬† But we all need some fun in our everyday ūüôā

And I think that’s it.¬† If it’s like last year, there will be continual tweaking¬†and change to meet the needs of my student.¬†¬†So this is our starting point.¬† Here’s to a happy, fun, and successful year for us all!

Back To School DIY: Magnetic Board

School starts here for us on Monday.¬† Monday!!!¬† Ahhh!!!¬† So this week I’m in a final mad dash to make sure¬†that I have everything organized and ready to go.

One thing I want to do differently this year is give the Princess a bit more say in how our school days go.¬† Last year, I had my list of things to accomplish on each day of the week.¬† For example, Tuesdays we¬†did music.¬† Fridays we did art.¬† Every week, we had that same schedule.¬† At times last year it was a struggle to get her interested in whatever was next on the “to do” list, so it became a struggle at times to get everything done each day.¬† I want our days this year to be happier and go more smoothly.¬† One way to accomplish this, I think, is by letting the Princess have more say in¬†the order of¬†each day.

So I¬†scoured the internet for ideas on how to go about accomplishing this goal, and I found the idea for magnetic to do boards.¬† (So this is totally not my own original idea, just my own version of someone else’s great idea!)¬† I thought, “Hey, this could work!”¬† She’ll get to choose what she wants to work on next, and she’ll also see¬†how much we still need to finish before our day is over so I won’t have to¬†frustrate her by telling her we have a lot more to do.¬† She’ll¬†be able to see for herself.¬† And, when she finishes something, she’ll have the honor of moving it to the “All Done!” side of the board (it feels so great to cross something off your to do list, doesn’t it?!!!)

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Stuff you'll need to make this

Stuff you’ll need to make this

*A baking sheet, whatever size you like

*Spray paint, whatever color you like

*Clear glass gems (I got mine from the Dollar Tree)


*Magnetic buttons

*****I¬†forgot to include a hot glue gun in this picture, but I also used a hot glue gun…and a pencil…and scissors*****

*Mod Podge

*A paint brush

*Decorations, whatever you like.  (We decorated ours with stickers and paper.)

Now to the fun part ūüôā

  1.  In a well-ventilated area and following the directions on the can, spray the baking sheet with the spray paint.  I took mine outside and ended up giving it two coats of paint.
    Go from this, to this!

    Go from this, to this!

    2.¬† While the paint is drying, work on making your magnets.¬† I typed up a list of subjects and printed them out¬† on a white piece of printer paper, but you may just choose to handwrite them.¬† I didn’t know if I could write that small, lol.¬† Whatever works for you!¬† Just make sure you leave enough room between them to trace around and cut out.

3.  Using your glass beads as a guide, trace around each of the words and cut them out.

Make sure the size of your letters will fit!

Make sure the size of your letters will fit!

4.    Attach your paper circles to the glass beads using a thin coat of Mod Podge.

Mod Podge. A little goes a long way...

Mod Podge. A little goes a long way…

5.¬† Hot glue a magnet to the back of each glass bead.007¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 6.¬† After your paint has dried, decorate it however you like!¬† Here’s what we used on ours:

Scrapbook paper

Scrapbook paper…


…and stickers

And that’s it!¬† Here’s what our looked like when we finished:

Extra butterflies at the top, courtesy of the Princess :)

Extra butterflies at the top, courtesy of the Princess ūüôā

And here it is when we add the magnets:

With the magnets

With the magnets

Some people go the extra step and hot glue a ribbon on the back for hanging. I haven’t decided if we need to do that or not yet. We’ll see. But that’s it. Pretty simple, really!017

The Big Day…It’s Almost Here!

So today was our last free Friday. Our last weekday that my little baby isn’t a big “school kid” (well, not officially anyway). We celebrated by having her bff over for an afternoon of fun and playing together while they still had the chance. Monday will be here quickly, and with it comes the first day of school. ! . .

So…the first day of school! It is an emotional day. She’s my first, and thus far, my only. I’m thankful we’re homeschooling, but I also want to make this a special time for her since this is kind of a big deal, ya know?…Hubby and I took her school shopping. She needed bigger clothes–she’s outgrowing everything she owns–and we wanted her to have the experience just like we did when we were growing up. But I want to do more. I want to make family traditions and family memories that will give her some sense of peace and belonging in this crazy world.

I’ve scoured the internet and found lots of neat-o ideas of things to do to commemorate the first day of school and make it special. This is what I plan to do:

-Sometime this weekend I would like to get her a special toy. I haven’t decided yet if it will be an educational type toy, or just a stuffy who will be her designated “study buddy”. This will depend on whether or not we end up going on another shopping trip since we live in nearly the middle of nowhere. We shall see.

-When she wakes up on Monday morning, I want to have a special, yummy breakfast. I’m thinking cinnamon rolls. I know, not the healthiest, but we don’t ever really have them so it would be different and special. And yummy, which is the whole point.

-After breakfast, I’ll measure and weigh her, and record it…somewhere. I thought about a growth chart, but didn’t think about it soon enough and since–as stated above–we live in the middle of nowhere, there’s not enough time to order one.

-I’ll take a picture of my lovely new student in her brand new school duds. Can’t forget the first day of school picture, right? And at least right now my princess loves posing for the camera. Win-win.

-At some point, probably before we really get the day started, I’ll have the princess answer a first day of school interview. I’m looking forward to hearing her answers and seeing how they may change over the years, lol.

So there it is, my big plan for the first day of Kindergarten. I just really would like to get this year started and see how things go! Praying that it all goes well, that my baby learns a lot, and that we will grow closer together throughout this process. Wishing everyone else the best, as well! Here’s to a great school year!

Kindergarten Music…

Maybe I’m stressing over this more than I should.

But this is going to be the last thing that I *tweak* before school starts. Really, it is.

My choice for our kindergarten homeschool music curriculum has been (and continues to be) Say Hello to Classical Music from My Father’s World . I chose it because it was inexpensive and said that it combined listening to classical music with fun activities for the littles. Sounded great to me!

I popped the cd into my laptop and loved the music. I looked over the activities and…to be honest, I was a little disappointed.

I’m not really sure what I was hoping for. There are 26 musical selections, each with an accompanying activity. Out of those activities, 6 are repeated (one being a drawing/painting of fish but two times in a row…) I guess I was just hoping for more, I don’t know. So I have once again gone on a quest to find a music curriculum that I think my daughter will enjoy. After much searching, here’s what we’ll be doing:

-We’ll still be doing the My Father’s World Say Hello to Classical Music cd’s and activities. I really did love the music and I know that my daughter will enjoy it, too. I may spruce it up a bit by adding a picture of the composer and maybe an interesting fact about him before we start. We’ll do this every other week.

-The other choice that I had been considering before making my initial purchase was Kindergarten Music from Pfeiffer House Music . After another look around, I decided to go ahead and make the purchase. The kit includes a lesson book, worksheets, flash cards, and a cd, and comes in both a Christian and secular version. You can also just buy a digital download which is less expensive, but I like to have the cd and books in my hands so I went with the booklet and cd. There are 14 lessons which we will do every other week (rotating with the MFW cd/activities, some of which we may skip since they’re duplicates.)

I think that this will give my daughter a good start with her kindergarten music curriculum. She’ll be exposed to the classics, as well as be learning about things like rhythm, pitch, and solfege.

Interestingly, my search led me to find some great curriculum that we may try in the future. SQUILT looks like a fun, comprehensive program that is very affordable. Check it out here: . Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades from would be a dream, but it is rather pricey. One that I’m leaning toward is The Classical Kids Collection . After searching and saving it for later I was surprised and excited when I saw that it is offered as a first grade elective at Sonlight ūüôā

So there it is. Hip hip, hooray! Now to begin lesson planning……..

Kindergarten Spanish: A Change in the Plan…

So I’m already making changes to my curriculum choices…and school hasn’t even *officially* started yet. (Although we did do our first Bible lesson from our new curriculum this morning! The princess seemed so excited and interested, so I figured why wait?)

Here’s what happened:

I was doing a bit more reading on . I was mainly interested in their reading list for year 0 (kindergarten), when I noticed that they offered some council on foreign language programs.

My daughter has expressed an interest in learning Spanish. I myself am fascinated by learning languages, although (sadly) English is the only language I speak fluently. So I was very excited to add a Spanish curriculum to our homeschool agenda! Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two, too, in the process!

I had purchased a complete boxed set of La Clase Divertida (The Fun Class) from ebay a few weeks ago and was excited when it finally arrived. The website says that it’s suitable for children from PK-8th grade. Looking at it, though, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed to me that for grade K I’d have to do a lot of tweaking. So when I saw the recommendations from Ambleside, I began to reconsider my choice.

After much deliberation, I decided to purchase the Spanish Teacher’s Kit from Little Pim. I had considered Little Pim when I was looking before, but didn’t realize they had a teacher’s kit and at the time I wasn’t so sure about spending so much $$$ on something that might not keep my daughter’s attention. My daughter seemed interested and enjoyed the sample video offered on the site, but I still wasn’t sure I wanted to spend so much on the Complete Set. The teacher’s kit is less expensive (although it doesn’t include the second set of dvd’s like the complete kit does) and I figure that if we don’t like it, we can always find something else. Plus, I found a coupon! That plus free shipping on orders over $20 and I just couldn’t pass it up, lol.

So here is the plan for now:

1) Work through the Little Pim curriculum. If we like it, when the time comes we can purchase volume 2. In the meantime, my daughter will be hearing Spanish and becoming familiar with basic vocabulary.

2) When we are finished with Little Pim, we will move to Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Salsa series online. I think she’ll enjoy it more if she can understand a bit of what they’re saying (which she hopefully will because of Little Pim!).

3) After we’ve worked through both of those programs, we’ll re-evaluate how ready she may be for La Clase Divertida. The cool thing is that I already have a curriculum for the future, and it really does look like it will be “The Fun Class”!

So that’s it for now. When I get a few more things cleaned up from our big weekend I’ll start working on getting a basic schedule created for school. It’ll be here before we know it and I wanna be ready!

Homeschool Curriculum for Kindergarten…Our Choices!

After fretting over it for a few days, going back and forth, and praying that we would make the right decisions, here are our top choices for a kindergarten curriculum (for our daughter. Everyone will be different, and that’s ok ūüôā )

In our state, the following subjects are mandatory: English, math, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education. That’s a lot to pack into a day (although I know that we don’t have to do *every* subject *every* day.) I also want to make Bible studies, character building, and foreign language a part of our learning. The next step will be to figure out how to do that! For now, here are our choices and what we will be working with this school year: Yes, we chose Timberdoodle over Sonlight. The fun, hands-on learning is something that I know my daughter is going to absolutely love, and we had to let that weigh heaviest in our decision. What is going to make her *want* to learn and *do school* every day? This curriculum seems to be one that she’ll be learning while she thinks she’s playing and having fun. Really, it would’ve been a no-brainer had my heart not been so committed to the Sonlight readers… So I got the readers, too! I want my daughter to be hearing wonderful literature! I want her to enjoy reading good books! So I shopped around and pieced together all of the books in this read-aloud package from Sonlight. The downside is that I don’t have the instructor’s guide to go with the books so we’ll be on our own for a reading schedule and comprehension questions. But I couldn’t see spending the almost $80 dollars just for that. I did purchase a few of the read-alouds from them, as well as other items from Sonlight:
-Least of All (read-aloud)
-The Usborne book of Living Long Ago
-The Usborne Book of Wild Places: Mountains, Jungles, & Deserts
-Sing the Word from A to Z (CD)
-How Flowers Grow
-No Children, No Pets (read-aloud)
-Five True Dog Stories (read-aloud)
-Johnny Appleseed (read-aloud)
-The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose (read-aloud)

-Art. Along with the art provided in the Timberdoodle curriculum, I purchased the Sonlight suggested book Enjoying Art With Children by Gladys S. Blizzard. I shopped it and found it cheaper elsewhere.

-Music. Say Hello to Classical Music from My Father’s World. This looks fun and simple. The instructor’s guide is included on the cd. I think this will be enough music to take us through the year. If not, I will also purchase the kindergarten program from

-Health. Are we the only state that requires a health course to be taught in kindergarten? I think I found only two major K level health programs in all of my searching. I will be using the Horizons Health set (by necessity, not choice), and adding a book I found through Sonlight: The Story of Me by Brenna and Stan Jones.

-Physical Education. My daughter participates in activities outside the home that fulfill this requirement. But if I were to *need* curriculum, we would definitely be doing the program at

-Bible. The most important part of the day. We will be using the Bible Study Guide for All Ages Beginner Starter Pack. . I’ve let my daughter look through this and she seemed very interested. I’m so thankful that she has such an interest in the word of God and loves our time spent together reading His word. We’ll begin our days with this, and end them with the book Leading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings by Marian M. Schoolland. We’ll also have the Sonlight sing-along CD that I posted above to help us with our memory verses.

-Character building. Homeschool Character Development Visuals from A Beka. Simple and sweet.

-Foreign Language. My daughter has a desire-just like her momma-to learn foreign languages. She has expressed a desire to learn how to speak Spanish, so we will be watching Salsa on the Georgia Public Broadcasting website, as well as going through the La Clase Divertida program.

Whew! Think that’s enough! As soon as we get our package from Timberdoodle I can sit down and figure out how we will schedule our days. (Which reminds me, I chose to purchase a homeschool planner from rather than having the headache of trying to figure out what to include in my own–at least this first time around, lol) I’m wondering how quickly (or slowly) we’ll get through things, as my daughter is already reading and doing a great deal of the things that I’ve read are taught in kindergarten. It will be a challenge, but I’m excited and ready for it!

***I’ve tried to include links to all of the websites, but they don’t seem to be showing up. It’s late, and I’m not techno-savvy, so I’ll try to edit this and fix it later.