Category Archives: Homeschool

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


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.)

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
  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


Summer 2014: A Review In Pictures

We still have a good month of summer here in the Northeast but ultimately, autumnal days, apple picking, and holiday preparations will be here before we know it. We are easing into our homeschool year with a focus on Preschool and Kindergarten materials.  Our homeschool group is kicking off the school year with a back to homeschool picnic and a trip to Bluff Point State Park. I am very excited to begin this school year.  🙂

This post is a simple round-up of our summer and our never-ending educational endeavors. We consider learning  to be a whole life experience. Learning doesn’t begin with a specific curriculum or scheduled activities and summer is full of experiences and opportunities for feeding the young, curious mind.

tiny-sun-transparent tiny-sun-transparent tiny-sun-transparent



beach 2

JH Boys Reading

JH digging dirt

JH garden

JH shapes

JH Lego

JH pool time

JH fresh produce


JH reorg

jH boys outside

jh castle

jh bingo

jh kitchen


wes beach pool

ns fair

building stuff


jack cake


I hope you had a truly joyful summer.


Many Blessings,

The Joyful Homemaker


April Homeschool Roundup


It is almost the end of May and I am finally getting to our April roundup.

April was a great month. We did some fun things and nothing too serious. We explored outside, stayed indoors, and simply played. Take a peak at some pictures of our April homeschool month. 🙂

jack tiles 2

JAck gems 2

wes 1


Wes letter block

JAck gems 3


jack paint 1

jack paint 2

Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker

March Homeschool Roundup

We are a few weeks into April and I am finally getting to our March Roundup! Our March homeschool was pretty uneventful and relaxed. We did our normal activities and played outside on nice days. Below are some images of our month. 🙂



We spent a lot of time at the library and checked out a lot of books and some movies. Jack is  into Hayao Miyazaki, so we borrowed Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind from the library. He loves Castle in the Sky, Ponyo, and, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and The Secret World of Arrietty. He does love H. Miyazaki. 🙂 We also started reading, The Boxcar Children series. Jack throughly enjoys them.



We haven’t started a”formal” dinosaur unit, but we play quite a bit with dinosaurs, read dinosaur books, and watch the occasional documentary.



We did a few sensory activities to improve hand-eye coordination and focus. We used tweezers to move objects into containers. One of Jack’s favorite activities is moving pom-poms into an old creamer container. We picked pastels to represent springtime. 🙂

Overall, we played, and read books, worked on some sensory stuff, did some crafts, and simply had fun.




Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

February Homeschool Roundup


February’s doors are closing and boy, has it been a month. Wesley and I battled two solid weeks of illness and I sprained my foot badly the second week. We have healed from illness and my foot feels much better. Between illness, numerous snowstorms, and frigid weather, I felt early in the month, it would be best to postpone my 365 Real Foods Series and blogging altogether. I needed time to heal and be with my kiddos. Needless to say, not much homeschooling happened, but we did do a few things here and there. 🙂


February Homeschool Roundup

During the month, my mom took Jack for a day and he and my niece, Izzy, completed a fun, Valentine’s Day craft. They had a blast using glue sticks and self-sticking hearts and letters.

valentine craft


We did a lot of playing this month and the boys played with sea animals in the kitchen! It was Wesley’s first time getting his little feet wet outside of the tub!



Jack started his library class this month and has read books on flying and counting. He is really enjoying his class. Below are a few pictures of his craft projects from each class.



Wesley started Kindermusik on the 19th, and each class is a lot of fun. He loves to interact with the other babies and he enjoys chewing on the instruments. It’s nice to get out of the house and get moving!



Jack is into doing art almost everyday. He loves to draw most of all. He draws out, “landscapes,” “buildings,” and “Angry Birds,” on paper. We are also working on some letters.



Wes is exploring toys, noises, textures, and is starting to roll. He loves to sit in his high chair and play with toys.


We managed to get outside during a brief “warm spell.” The weather hit 51 degrees and we hit the playground! Jack needed to run and burn some energy.



Overall, the month of February was a wash due to illness and weather, but we still had fun and we are VERY much looking forward to March. With the way the weather is going, and a predicted snowstorm for Monday, it looks like March will come in like a lion, and (hopefully) go out like a lamb. Bring on springtime! 🙂


Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker

January Homeschool Roundup


January is coming to an end and we have spent the month mostly stuck inside. We have accomplished quite a few homeschool activities. Jack is into building with blocks, Magforms, art, and playing. He enjoys Legos and inventing tools and vehicles.



January Homeschool Roundup!

January was certainly buggy! Jack is interested in all things insect. Since the ground is covered in snow we have used plastic bugs to explore various types of insects and arachnids. This spring we will head outside and see what we can find.


Jack has worked with matching, tracing letters, drawing lines, circling objects, and counting in his workbooks. Jack enjoys using his “first pencils,” and using workbooks. I let him decide when to use workbooks. We don’t use them everyday. He also enjoys peeling stickers and placing them on paper.



Play dough was big this month. Jack goes through waves with play dough. We often make our own at home; however, we did get some for Christmas, so we have dug into new containers. 🙂



Imaginative play is an everyday thing in our home. There is never a shortage of imagination and play!



Reading happens daily. Jack reads to Wesley almost everyday.




Jack enjoyed art this month. He’s become quite the painter and loves to draw with fine tip markers. He enjoys creating maps and buildings.



Last week we decided to see if we could grow new food from food scraps, and so far, it works! Our lettuce took off immediately and the celery is starting to grow. Each morning we make basic observations on growth. Jack loves checking on his plants each morning. Today the onions are really reaching for the sunlight and the lettuce is very green! Our little scrap plants are a nice touch of green growth in a snowy world. Jack wants to see how “huge” the lettuce can get!



Jack is learning the basics of cooking. He enjoys mixing, using measuring utensils, chopping, and adding ingredients. I try to cook a few times a week with Jack. Pancakes are his favorite meal to make.



Jack and John try to play a game every day. Jack especially loves The Angry Birds game he got for Christmas. He also loves puzzles and matching games. Anything with his daddy is his favorite.


Well, that about wraps up January. We have accomplished a lot of great things this month. Next month I have a few goals in mind. Jack starts his weekly reading hour at the library and Wesley starts Kindermusik.  I want to do a few Valentine’s activities. I plan on making Valentine’s play dough and some decorations (we did this one last year).



<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

We will have to wait and see where the month of February takes us. Do you have any educational goals for February? Do you have a unit or curriculum you plan on using or do you unschool?

I can’t wait to share our accomplishments with you next month. February is a fun month. <3

Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker

Lavender Hydrangea Play Dough

Lav Play Dough Cover

Today is our first day back to “normal” since returning from our week-long vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee. John went back to work this morning and Jack and I have done stuff around the house, mostly playing and some mild housework.

This morning I saw the flowers on our hydrangea bush are just about gone. I decided to pick some remaining flowers and make play dough. Lavender essential oil adds a nice touch and Jack really enjoyed the floral dough. This would be a great way to use up any remaining flowers from the garden or inside your home.

Lavender Hydrangea Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tbsp cream of tartar, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1.5 cups of boiling water, 5 drops of lavender essential oil, and 1 handful of hydrangea flowers.

Directions: Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl or pot. Mix in vegetable oil and essential oil. Add water and mix until it is a dough consistency.



To use, spread out on wax paper and have kiddos roll out the dough and add in the flowers.  It doesn’t take long to cool and is usable almost immediately.




Enjoy the aroma and color!

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Why We Homeschool


It may or may not come as a surprise to most who know our family, but we are in fact, a home school family. Gasp! Yes, you read correctly. We endorse home education and believe it works for us. While this choice is a no-brainer for us, it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, even people in our lives. Our family is split smack down the middle with one half being supportive and the other half, well, not so much.

My husband and I both attended college for teaching. I went the bachelor degree route and he went the masters. After having spent time in endless education classes and doing my own evaluations of career choices, I decided against teaching. My decision against teaching was later solidified as a correct one while substitute teaching during a job layoff.  My husband also decided against finishing his master’s in education because he simply, “didn’t like the bureaucracy of it all.”

Fast forward to 2010, the year Jack was born. It was during this time our conversation on education got real. We talked endlessly about the local school systems and poured over alternate educational options, like Montessori and private schools. We knew immediately we could not afford to send our children to private school, so we scratched it off the list. We held Montessori education close but alas, it too had a major cost factor. We scratched our heads and resigned ourselves to the public sector.

It was less than a year later we met a family, now very best friends of ours, who home educate their children. While it was never immediately clear to my husband and I that we would or could home school, it was to our friends. During a dinner conversation one night the topic of education came up. Our friend is a former public school teacher and we somehow got on the topic. I started to tell my friend that we just don’t feel comfortable with public school but financially, we don’t have any options. My husband chimed in with a resounding, “Jack cannot go to public school.” My friend said, “well, you could home school, you know?” I looked at my husband and back at my friend, “I can’t home school. I know nothing about it.” She simply looked back at me and said, “you’re already homeschooling.” She was right. We had already started with the necessary foundation and didn’t even realize. We were fostering a love of learning and building a learning environment right in our very own home. My husband looked at me and said, “We’re homeschooling!”

So, now the million dollar question, why home school?

  1. HOW – We want our children to know how to learn. Simple. We want to build the necessary foundation and supply the necessary tools to engage them in understanding how to learn. We want our children to have the skill set to set out on a learning mission without having to be told every.single.step.
  2. QUALITY vs. QUANTITY – It isn’t how much one knows but how well they know it. In public schools students are taught multiple subjects each day for the entire year. They are conditioned with a bell when it is time to stop and move on to the next subject or activity. In our home, we believe focusing on each subject for an undetermined amount of time based on our child’s desire to know that subject will enrich them.
  3. FREEDOM – This one is simply the freedom to pick a subject of interest and freedom to explore the world. Right now our son Jack is only three; however, he loves bugs. He may still have an interest in entomology when he reaches middle school; however, he most likely would not have the time or want to study entomology along with all the subjects designated by his grade level. With the freedom to choose his own subjects along with the basics, he could really delve into the world of entomology by getting out into the back yard or the woods. The freedom to learn what one loves opens up an entire world of learning. One educational exploration leads to another and can easily be tied into other subjects. A day in the woods may lead to a math lesson or a journal writing.
  4. NO TESTING – Enough said here. Testing is nothing more than a means to an end and it doesn’t fit into the educational map we have outlined for our children. They will have to take the SAT for college admittance and tests in college; however, children test themselves every day in their other work. The greatest test is whether they know how to learn and love what they do.
  5. LACK OF DISTRACTIONS – Phones, texting, sexting, social media, bullying, pressures such as premarital sex, drugs, gambling, violence, etc. OK, I can almost see the rolling eyes but let’s face it, we all went through public school and each of the above distractions were in my school everyday. Did I choose to engage in those practices? No. But they were distractions and when I think back on some of these distractions, I think back to the time in third grade I was sexually bullied on the school bus for the entire year. The driver did nothing to stop the boy and trust me, the entire bus could hear him yelling swears and sexual comments to me. Thankfully, the boy was nowhere near me since we had assigned setting areas on the bus. I also think back to school in general and I remember the above distractions being very blatant. I simply do not want these distractions in the educational life of my children.
  6. BECAUSE WE LOVE OUR CHILDREN – WHOA! HANG ON A MINUTE! DON’T SLAM DOWN THAT SCREEN YET! This in no way implies parents who use the public school system love their children any less. NO WAY! I know many amazing, loving, “would trust my children with them,” parents who send their kids to public schools and love them with every fiber of their being. We believe for us that spending each day educating our own children is the most important thing we can do for them because we love them with everything we have.

So there you have it. The reasons we educate at home. We love our children and wish for them to have a quality education in a distraction free environment. In our home environment they can build a quality vs. quantity education by embracing the freedom they have and ultimately know how to learn.

Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker