Easy Counting Math Center

*please excuse the photo quality, I am using my phone for images temporarily*

Welcome back to the blog, friends! Our homeschool year is in full swing and I thought I would share a very easy math center I put together for my five-year old son. He’s working on counting and adding and one of the easiest ways to reinforce the concept of amounts and counting is through hands-on activities.

For this center I used a simple plastic heart-shaped manipulative. We also have animals, teddy bears, blocks, sea shells, polished stones, and more. Really, any scoopable item is great for this center.

To visually reinforce differing amounts, I simply gathered six different containers, five were clear containers and the sixth was an egg carton.

For tactile reinforcement we used a chunky pair of children’s sensory tweezers. One could also use a spoon to scoop or simply have their child use their hands.

For the worksheet I simply created a quick template in word and used a border template from a binder of templates I have (I found these at Goodwill – what a find!).

I had him count the hearts as he was dropping them into the container. After he filled each container, he simply wrote down the number of hearts on the sheet next to the number container we were on. The largest of the containers held seventy-one hearts!

My two-year old daughter also enjoyed this activity. It’s an easy and fun way to teach counting. Kids love to gather, group, scoop, and manipulate objects. I hope you enjoy replicating this center. Feel free to share some of your own fun math centers!

Happy homeschooling, friends!

The Joyful Homemaker

Image – painting by George Goodwin Kilburne


Christmas Play Dough

Making play dough is easy and I like this no-cook recipe. It creates a smooth, easy-to-store dough. The below recipe can be made with color, essential oils, and even glitter. For this one I used only Young Living Christmas Spirit essential oil blend. I used four to five drops and it has a nice light fragrance.



3 Cups of flour

1 Cup of salt

1 Cup of water (add food coloring if desired)

1/2 Cup of oil (I used vegetable and I added my essential oil blend directly to the oil)

Four to five drops of Young Living Christmas Spirit essential oil blend


Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add oil and water. Mix well. 



For storage: 

Store in an air tight container. A gallon size plastic bag works well. 

I hope you enjoy this play dough. It’s perfect for the holiday season. It’s quick and easy to whip up a batch. Give the kids cookie cutters, rollers, beads, etc. so they can mimic baking.



Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker



Our Connecticut Lapbook Project


Today was a productive and fun day at Morgan Academy. Izzy and Jack received a history lesson, geography lesson, writing practice, and crafting all in one. They got a boat load of information and had fun working on their Connecticut Lapbooking project. Jack’s favorite thing about CT are the singing robins and Izzy loves pink sunset clouds. 🙂

They learned all about:

  • Where we are in Connecticut
  • Where Connecticut is
  • The capital of Connecticut
  • State facts about Connecticut
  • When Connecticut was founded
  • The thirteen colonies
  • The thirteen colonies flag and today’s flag







Lapbooking is my favorite method of instruction. It entails a bit of extra planning and supplies but overall, it’s so much fun. Also, I didn’t realize Nathan Hale was the official hero of CT. I learn something new everyday here at Morgan Academy.

Many Blessings and Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker

vic kids

(art: Kate Greenaway was a Victorian illustrator and poet who found inspiration in the Regency period.)

Winter’s Goodbye

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? – Percy Bysshe Shelley


In the Northeast winter came in like a lamb with seventy degree weather on Christmas day and headed out like a lion with a Nor’easter on the second day of spring. I’d like to think of today’s storm as winter’s official goodbye. The sun is shining brightly, the snow has passed, and just like that, winter is gone.

Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day. – Elizabeth Bowen

We had a bit of a snow day indoors as we are still recovering from the dreaded stomach bug. The boys got their hands a bit messy with some painted snow.  We filled containers with fresh snow and the boys went to town with paints. They really enjoyed this one.




This winter we focused on our kindergarten materials, enjoyed the occasional outing with friends and family, and our holidays were lovely. We spent many days in fellowship with and rejoicing with our church family. We crafted, read books, and spent time curled up on the couch. Many hours were spent in intense prayer for faithful friends who are still enduring an immense trial.

On the weather front, winter was kind to us this year; we didn’t end up with ten feet of snow from back to back storms or unbearably frigid weather for months on end. Winter was kind this year and we’re all grateful.

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. William Blake


I hope you had a winter of blessings and your home was full of joy.

Happy Spring,

The Joyful Homemaker


February Crafting: Heart Bird Feeder


February is my favorite month for crafting. I enjoy the over abundance of pink and red heart crafts, the neatly folded letters of love to family and friends, and sweet adornments made by little hands.

This small, hanging bird feeder is easy (and tasty) for the little ones. You may even have all the necessary items on hand.


  • Pipe cleaners (we used red and pink)
  • Cheerios or other ring-shaped cereal
  • Pretty string or yarn



  • Have the children make a heart shape with their pipe cleaner
  • Fill the pipe cleaner with cereal
  • When full, twist closed the two ends of the pipe cleaner
  • Tie ribbon, yarn, or string
  • Hang outside for the birds to enjoy




Happy crafting,

The Joyful Homemaker


Post 37 of 365 Real Foods Series: Homemade Granola


There is nothing quite like a nice bowl of Greek yogurt with a generous amount of tasty granola sprinkled on top. Yum! I decided a few years ago to start making my own granola since store-bought granola is not budget friendly and the added ingredients weren’t great either.

John loves peanut butter so I decided to try my hand at a version with some peanut butter added in. I like this recipe because it is not over the top crunchy and difficult to chew! Weird, I know. 🙂 It’s also easy-peasey to make!

If you can’t have peanut butter due to allergies, or you simply want something different, you could easily sub the peanut butter for almond, sunflower, hazelnut, or cashew. You could also add whatever you like for fillers or omit any of the ones I added. I like sunflower seeds, almonds, and of course, chocolate.


  • 2 cups old-fashioned, rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Handful of sliced almonds
  • Handful of dried fruits – cherries, cranberries, etc.
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil
  • Few drops of vanilla extract


  • Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a saucepan, combine peanut butter, butter or oil, honey, and vanilla. Mix well until melted.
  • Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Press the granola into a pan or baking dish lined with wax or parchment paper.
  • Bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. I suggest stirring once, around the 15 minute mark and then pressing down again.
  • Remove from oven, stir, and let cool. It will become crunchier as it cools.
  • Once cool, store in a container with a tight lid.




That’s it! It’s pretty easy and quite tasty. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Happy Snack Making,

The Joyful Homemaker

Our Under-the-Sea Lapbook Project

Morgan Academy has been hard at work for the past four and half months. Currently, we are studying swimming creatures of the fifth day using Apologia’s Junior Explorer Series. Since Jack is only five, I have tailored it to fit a kinder level. It is a great series and it works well for various ages. Overall, the content is easy to break down for younger students, it just needs a bit of tweaking for non-readers.

I thought it would be fun to put together a lapbook of under sea creatures while focusing on God’s word. Jack enjoyed this project, especially the puppets and making his own drawings of sea creatures.

Below is a quick look at this fun and simple project. You can easily tailor this project to your own home studies and various topics. Here are the materials we used:

  1. Two file folders
  2. Clear tape
  3. Glue stick or glue
  4. Print outs. coloring pages, etc. of your topic (we used these http://www.firstpalette.com/tool_box/printables/seaanimals.html)
  5. Lined paper for copy work (if using)
  6. Scrapbook or cardstock paper
  7. Popsicle sticks (we used pieces of heavy, recycled paper)


First, we took the two file folders and taped them together to make a four sectioned, flat “book.”


We started working on our cover next – we used the left flap on the outside as our main cover.



Jack completed his copy work and we assembled the right side of the outside cover.



Our fourth step was working on the inside. I let him color, cut, draw, glue, and arrange things the way he wanted.


We decided it would be fun to add puppets to the front cover – so our fifth step was coloring, cutting, and assembling puppets.


We made an orange attachment to add to the front cover and tucked our puppets into the top. You could easily add whatever you wish to the front. We thought it would be a fun place to store our puppets.


We glued scripture and a few more creatures to the orange piece.


Here is our finished project!




I hope you enjoyed our project! I would love to see some of your lapbooking projects. Do share! 🙂

Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker


Weekly Tasks: November 8 – November 15, 2015


Completed Tasks From Last Week

  • Project Oceanology homeschool trip
  • Christmas wrapping paper organized (two rolls ordered from a fundraiser)
  • Jurassic World movie night 
  • Thanksgiving decorations put up
  • Blog two recipes

Tasks for November 8 – November 15, 2015. These are in addition to my normal daily tasks.

autumn leaves sample 2


  • Continue purging items in attic
  • Clean up leaves in the yard – John


  • Healthy snack making day
  • Freezer meals


  • Daily Bible reading and scriptural study at home



  • Begin working on rustic fabric garland for Christmas Tree (find fabric online)
  • Make list of homemade gifts needed for this year
  • Yearly family photos
  • Begin looking at Christmas card options (sales and codes)



  • Begin Dinosaur unit (phonics, math, sight words)
  • Continue daily phonics in Explode the Code
  • Continue daily math in Kumon workbook
  • Continue our art dvd each week
  • Prepare all items for our Operation Christmas Child event on the 18th
  • Story time at the library
  • Continue working on science fair project
  • Field trip to Farmer’s Cow
  • Cookies for Vets



  • Two new recipes
  • Blog weekly task list

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker



Post 36 of 365 Real Foods Series: Peanut Butter Fiber Cookies (GF, DF, SF)


Here in the Joyful Home, we enjoy baking cookies; however, we like healthier cookies (well, I do). I prefer cookies and sweets we can eat for breakfast without tons of sugar.

This easy recipe yields a lot of cookies and is gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. These are full of good fiber and are plenty sweet with just raw honey.


  • 1 cup natural peanut-butter
  • 2/3 cup raw coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


  • Heat oven to 325
  • Blend peanut butter, oil, honey, eggs, and extract.
  • Mix until well blended
  • Add in flour and soda
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth
  • Drop onto greased cookie sheet
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes
  • Allow to cool on rack
  • These must cool because they crumble easily, especially while hot
  • Enjoy!






Happy Baking,

The Joyful Homemaker