How I Plan Homeschool Days with LifePacs

I have found a successful planning technique and because it is working so well for us, I thought I'd share it with you. I am a planner (I'm working on a post for that, too) and I like old school paper-style planning. I love pens and paper, so this is best for me.
Nikolas uses LifePacs from Alpha Omega Publishing for second grade. I don't have him do a set amount of pages per day or week. I look at the pages and plan it out by they day, some days are heavier in language arts, some in history... But it is usually about the same amount of time it takes every other day. When he finished a LifePac and does well on the test, I let him skip that subject the next day.

This is the way I was doing it and it was working out really well. I just wrote out each day's work on a sticky note and he'd cross it off when he finished it. This was a 4-day week. I just wrote the page numbers next to the subject, easy. I kept these in his notebook where his handwriting practice also is.

This is how we started planning. Instead of sticky notes that just get thrown away, this is more of a record as well. I list out each subject just like before and he crosses them off as he finishes them. I make notes at the bottom for the book he needs to read for the week.
The book is a super cheapy composition notebook, that I already had. So there was zero investment. LOVE IT.
Alpha Omega Publishing
These links are for reference only.


Our TOP TEN Fun and Educational Apps for Android

These are in no particular order.
1. Minecraft may seem like a fun game but my kids have learned so much about building and working together (on wi-fi they can connect to each other's games). [Minecraft is -hands down- my boys favorite game on any platform.]
2. Stack the States is amazing for US geography. My second grader knows every state, most of the capitals and its location because of this app!
3. Stack the Countries is more challenging that Stack the States but both of my boys have learned so much world geography.
4. Presidents VS. Aliens works a lot like the Stack apps, but you will learn the presidents and fun facts about them.
5. Tower Math is strategy and math put together. You can choose which operations and have fun learning.
6. Bible for Kids is worth its weight in gold but they give it away! The graphics are beautiful and there are new stories available all the time. My boys love to interact with the app and learn about the Bible.
7. Math Blaster 2 is a lot of fun and you can also choose operations. My boys will play this for a long time and not realize they are learning.
8. Cubes vs. Spheres is all strategy. It is a brain game that takes critical thinking.
9. Gus on the Go is available in many languages and is a great introduction to language learning. We are starting Portuguese, so that is what I have linked above. It is great for adults just starting out, too.
10. Second Grade Learning Games (aka Owl Learning) has a great variety of different learning activities and is also available for other grade levels.

  • Please note that the links above are for the Amazon App Store. They are affiliate links, so I might make a little profit if you buy them through my links. 
  • Some of these apps are available for free but we choose to buy the upgraded versions without ads, this helps protect our children, as well as our credit card. 
This is an affiliate link to the tablets that we chose for our children, it has a Kids Mode feature that also protects them and limits their access to things. We can also control in-app purchases. We've been using these for about six months are very happy. We got them keyboards, so they can use them for school as well.
The internet can be a scary place. 


Mini Master Makeover

I was really bored with our bedroom. We have a furnished apartment and I am not fond of our furniture, so I looked all over Pinterest and found this idea to cover the headboard. It was pretty easy. I just made a slip cover from an old flat sheet. It is literally two straight lines on the sewing machine. Measure and pin carefully to make sure it is a snug fit. I tied yarn between the two posts on the headboard to support it in the middle. I don't think will last long but it will be fine until I find something a little stronger.
The "art" that I made was also very simple. I had some canvases that I had gotten free in a paint set that I found at Michael's. I painted them navy blue, then used my Cricut to cut out the letters and &. I used some newsprint style paper that is now retired from Stampin' UP. The & is from the Plantin Schoolbook Cricut cartridge and the me and you is from the Cursive 101 set. I glued them to the canvas with a liquid glue, that I painted on. Over the letters and a small border is glossy, which looks nice on the matte blue paint. I added a linen ribbon with hot glue on the back to hang them. Hubs hung them for me.
Next, I will do something about the horrible lamp shades.
Our duvet and pillow covers (the blue toile pattern) is from IKEA, the soft blanket at the end of the bed and the sheets are from Target.


Our Orlando Dream Vacation

Hubs and I are both from California, so we're pretty familiar with Disneyland, but this year we decided to go crazy and spend an entire month in Orlando. You've got to remember that we flew for a full day to get to Florida, so we were going to stay as long as possible. We went to Universal, Disney, Sea World, Kennedy Space Center, Legoland, did some shopping, lots of eating, went to the movies, and got to visit with some family, too. I'm just going to share pictures of our favorite things. I highly recommend saving for a vacation like this. We saved and prepared for a long time. My husband is awesome and this was all his idea and his determination to get it all planned out.


Half Way Homeschool Update

You know that one time you had everything all planned out and then... you ended up throwing most of it out the window? Ya, seems like this happens a lot, to me, anyway. This was my original plan for this year. And it has definitely changed. For the better, and for the simpler.
Joshua is using the five subjects available with Monarch from Alpha Omega Publishing. Bible, History, Language Arts, Math, and Science all in one spot and one format. It is too easy for me and he really is learning a lot. He uses free cursive handwriting worksheets that I found here. He has daily reading practice and I bribe reward them both for reading a certain number of pages. We do most of our reading on the Kindle App. Joshua doesn't have much interest in art or music right now. He is super into video games and I'd love to find him something to teach him how to start basic programming or something.
Nikolas is using four subjects of LifePacs from Alpha Omega Publishing. Bible, History, Language Arts, and Science in a streamlined workbook format. He uses A+ Tutor Soft for math online. Nikolas is using the handwriting book from Horizon that is transitioning him into cursive. He also reads daily for a reward. He also really enjoys doing art videos from YouTube, including Southern HodgePodge and Doodle Draw Art. See the Light has also hit the DVD player recently, I'm hoping he starts using those more because they are really good.
We also learned about Harry Potter and did some fun learning before our trip to Orlando. I wanted them to enjoy that part of Universal Studios.
We use a bunch of different learning apps on their tablets.
Here is a list of their top ten favorites, in no particular order:

  • Stack the States
  • Stack the Countries
  • Presidents VS Aliens
  • Tower Math
  • Bible for Kids
  • Wild Kratts
  • Kindle (this is my favorite)
  • Mathblaster
  • Mercer Mayer interactive books from Oceanhouse Media
  • and the winner is Minecraft, no surprise there.

We use other apps but these are the favorites. Minecraft is used as a reward. I will post more about the other apps that I have them use for learning, that may not be favorites but they do learn from them.
Such focus.




Catching Up

I have been the worst blogger ever. I haven't really been reading blogs either. Well, I have no excuses, other than being a slacker in this area. But here is an update for you.
I decided to take the fall semester off of school, I was suffering from a case of burn out after taking math all summer (Math 100, people. Like pre-algebra in high school!). We also took a dream vacation to Orlando and I couldn't see myself doing homework while waiting in line for rides. I'll do a separate post on that, lots and lots of pictures to share.
September and October are the best months in Astana because it is still warm enough to do things outdoors but you don't need a parka. I read a lot of books and enjoyed my school-free time. We made big changes in our homeschooling this year (I'll write a separate post with specifics) and it has helped our days run so much easier. Nikolas turned 7 and we had a small party before our vacation to celebrate. My friend made him a cake that looked like a pizza, it was a big hit. We really do watch too much television living here. We aren't big into museums or the opera, so there isn't much to do here. I'm hoping that when we move that we'll be a bit more adventurous.
Happy Birthday Nikolas!
Drum roll please! Speaking of moving! We got our next assignment, which will be Rio de Janeiro! We will be there fall of 2015 after vacation time and some basic language training. We are excited to be in Rio for the Olympics and the year round warmth. It is a huge change from Astana and I think it will also be a positive move for us. I plan on learning Portuguese. We receive a homeschool allowance and I want a tutor to come and teach the boys, I think our experience will be so different knowing the language. Hubs doesn't usually get a chance to learn a language but there is some time in between leaving here and arriving there, so they said it would definitely be beneficial for him to go. That means we'll have a nice break in the US before heading south.
We had a quiet Thanksgiving and Christmas. The only reason we were awake at midnight on New Years was because of all the fireworks. Are we getting old? Maybe. But I like it. I can't believe we've been thinking about retirement and what we'd like to do. An RV will definitely be involved and I hope to travel the US, it'd be nice to see the country we're from.

I've got to say that we are so incredibly blessed. I thank God every single day for this life and this man that only He could provide.