A Mid-Year Change in Homeschool Curriculium

Photo Credit

Sometime after Christmas I was looking at curriculum and evaluating where Thing 1 and Thing 2 were in the year, I had a moment where I thought about bumping Thing 1 up to Essentials next year (Classical Conversations). I thought maybe she could handle it. That is until I actually looked into what they were doing. Then I had the oh no moment you never want to have as a homeschooling parent.

This past summer, a good friend from Texas and I were chatting curriculum and she said, “Tara, look at Shurley English.” I did and promptly reported back to her I was going to stick with the Abekka route this year. I wanted a simple, no fuss, curriculum this year since we were starting Classical Conversations and I was having Thing 4 in the fall. After looking through the material I knew that Thing 1 would be ok to wait on Shurley’s because she was going to learn all of that stuff between 3rd and 4th grade with Abekka. That stuff being parts of speech. After all, why change her, she was writing full paragraphs before the end of first grade. Never mind that she didn’t understand what an adjective was or what I was looking for when I said, “Be more descriptive!” At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about the impact my English curriculum would have on our Classical Conversations curriculum.

We know that we want to continue with Classical Conversations in our future curriculum. We love the results it produces and the smiles on our Thing’s faces every time we review. It is their favorite part of school. Mine too. Knowing that Classical Conversations is where we are going to root ourselves, I want to make sure that I am setting them up for success. Staying put with Abekka was not going to work. As soon as I realized where she needed to be in order to take full advantage of Essentials in 4th grade, I made the switch. Shurley’s is a 28 week curriculum. I started her in Level 2 now rather than wait until fall and Start Level 3 (which she would have struggled with greatly). My plan is to continue Shurley’s through the summer. We should be through all of our other curriculum by early May.

What is Shurly teaching?

I did not know this until I actually got my book, but in addition to teaching them vocabulary words, parts of speech, and jingles to learn the parts of speech, they are also learning states and capitals. I was very pleased about this! I know we will be learning them in CC, in Cycle 2 or 3, but I was/am happy to see the curriculum coincide so well. We made it through one full week plus part of a second before stopping to work on Memory Master. Thing 1 now knows the difference between synonyms and antonyms. She can look her vocabulary words up in a dictionary on her own, write the meaning, and she can then tell me if the vocab words are synonyms or antonyms. She has learned the capital and postal abbreviation for Alabama.

She is picking up on the jingles with out any issues. In fact, I believe Thing 2 has the verb jingle completely memorized because he and Thing 1 think the jingle is hilarious and they sing it over and over. As early as the next lesson, the students are labeling subject nouns and verbs in a sentence.

By the end of the curriculum they will be labeling parts of speech and doing Question and Answer flows. This is something that if you are going to go through Essentials, you will want to be prepared for. An example:

“The church bell rang loudly in my ears.

1. What rang loudly in my ears? bell- SN

2. What is being said about the bell? bell rang- V

3. Rang how? loudly- ADV

4. In- P

5. In what? ears- OP

6. Whose ears? my- PP

7. What kind of bell? church- ADJ

8. The- A

9. SN V P1 check

10. (in my ears)- Prepositional Phrase

11. Period, statement, declartive sentence

12. Go back to the verb- divide the complete subject from the complete predicate.”

(Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc. p 396, Lesson 27)

They will also be able to give you the capital and postal abbreviation for all of the states.

Does she like it?

Recently, her tutor from CC asked if she did and she said no. I have no idea what prompted her to say that because she really does. She LOVES the jingles. At first, I had her doing the journaling that is supposed to go along with each lesson. I quickly nixed that. Maybe next year, but for this year she can choose to write in her own journal or write a letter to someone. I think the journaling was not up her alley. She does like to journal, but on her own terms, in her own secret journal. I respect that.

I am actually super excited about Shurly’s. Over the summer when I first looked at it, I thought it was too soon for a second grader to learn and understand all of the parts of speech. That just isn’t so if it is presented the right way. I wish I had learned it this way. If your child is in CC they already know all of their prepositions and helping verbs which is helpful. Again, the curriculums pair nicely. That is about all that I can give you for now as far as knowledge about the curriculum. Feel free to ask me more as I dive deeper into it over the summer.

Which leads me to our plans for next fall. Since Thing 4 has arrived, I find myself missing the simplicity of being a SAHM and not a homeschooling SAHM. Please don’t misunderstand where I am coming from. I do enjoy watching my children learn and all that jazz… but I miss the crafting, the coloring, and the goofing off. Since Thing 4, I just can’t find the time for that. Next year is going to be different. I am thinking of schooling for a few weeks, then taking one or two off just to craft, enjoy the pool, and be a family. School a few weeks then take 2 off again. We start so early every year that I don’t see this as being an issue. Also, I believe the breathers will be welcomed in the midst of our ever- changing busy schedules. Maybe four weeks on one week off, or six weeks on and two off? I haven’t decided yet, but I need to build those breaks in. My Things are growing up before my eyes and even though I homeschool, and I am a SAHM, I am missing out on all of the things I love to do and want to do with them. That just doesn’t sit right with me so that is definitely going to have to change. Does anyone have this type of schedule for homeschool? How does it work for you? I would really love input here. I am on this adventure/journey, call it what you will, right along with ya’ll. If we can’t bounce ideas off of each other, then what?

I have a few very exciting things coming soon that I can’t share yet. Soon! Because of these exciting things, I will be making some changes on the blog. Once they are all done I will let you know. Stay tuned!

I love to hear from my readers. Sometimes there are crickets out there. If you haven’t yet, please sign up to have my posts sent directly to your email account. The field to do so is directly under the Mommy Blogger Button!


Homemade Chicken Nuggets for the Things

I am approaching what may be my final days and find myself slowing down, a lot. Is it just me, or do any of you other mammas out there get frustrated at this point in the pregnancy? I feel like I can’t breath, wash my hands in a sink because of my belly, bend over,…. It’s probably my Type A personality, but I can’t stand not being able to get stuff done and having to rely on help. Regardless, I am so excited to meet the little man who has completely taken over the lower half of my body. I get to find out how big he is today so we know what to expect. I have pushed off washing all of his new clothes because I wanted to make sure he would be able to actually wear them. We have big babies around here so today will be helpful for me to finish preparing for his arrival.

Homeschooling is on hold until he arrives and I recover. I started super early this year for this very reason. We are already in week 10 of homeschooling so I feel like I can let school go for a few weeks without feeling guilty. We will continue with Classical Conversations, but all of our other curriculum is on hold.

In preparation for the upcoming weeks, I am getting ready to make another batch of these chicken nuggets. If I can whip these up in 15 minutes, so can you. I LOVE this recipe from Momables. Why didn’t I think of this?

Chicken Nuggets

Adapted from Momables

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 tsp Emeril’s Essence Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs


  1. Mix chicken, oatmeal, half the grated parmesan (1/8 cup), half the seasoning  (1/2 tsp), garlic powder and pepper. Knead dry ingredients into ground chicken.
  2. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, form a small ball with the chicken and press into shape desired. Get creative and use cookie cutters.
  3. In a separate  bowl, combine breadcrumbs with remaining seasoning and  parmesan.
  4. Coat your nuggets front and back with the breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle a little salt on top. This was the only addition my Things asked me to make to the recipe.
  5. –At this point you can freeze– or
  6. To bake: Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Arrange nuggets on greased cookie sheet. I sprayed the tops of my nuggets with Pam to make it crisper like Laura suggested. Bake 15-20 minutes and turn once in the process. Even though I read Laura’s recipe and realized they weren’t supposed to brown, I kept wanting them to brown. Be careful not to over cook.
  7. I made 1 pound of these and they lasted a few lunches. I went ahead and baked mine, let them cool and then froze them. You can do it either way works for you.

Enjoy! Thank you Laura, at Momables, for sharing this awesome recipe!


Menu Plan Monday

My days fill up fast. I didn’t get out as many posts as I had hoped to last week, but I am nearing the end of pregnancy and when I have the energy, I am finding myself nesting instead of writing. I am not sure what my plan is as far as blogging goes while I am recovering. Anyone want to volunteer to do some guest posts? If so, please email me or post below! I would love the help!

Last week was a good homeschooling week. We were able to get a 10 commandments lap book completed for Classical Conversations and we did a Nile project!

Here is the link for the inspiration for our lap book. We are going to use these lap books for our presentation. They will be saying all 10 commandments from memory and will be using their lap books as a visual.

Here is the link for the Nile River Project. Super cute and the Things loved making this and talking about the Nile River. This fits in well with the Story of the World. We are listening to it on audio.

I wish I could say I made it through my menu plan last cycle, but I had a few days were I was too tired to cook so we ate cereal or sandwiches. I added more ease to this cycle, so hopefully I can stick to it!

Dinner menu:

1.) Swiss Steak

2.) Pasta with pesto cream sauce

3.) Tortilla Chicken Casserole

4.) Taco Cups

5.) French Toast stuffed with Nutella

6.) Ham and cheese wraps, fruit and salad

7.)  Baked sweet and sour chicken with fried rice

8.) Slow Cooker loaded baked potato soup

9.) Crock Pot Tortellini Soup

10.) Crock pot chicken pot pie

11.) Duck, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and biscuits *We had a Duck Commander themed birthday party over the weekend for The Man*

12.) Leftovers

13.) Leftovers

14.) Pizza

Thing’s breakfast menu:

1.) French toast

2.) Cereal

3.) Cinnamon buns

4.) Homemade Donuts

5.) Toast with jam

Thing’s lunch menu:

1.) Cinnamon bread with peanut butter, veggie sticks, and fruit

2.) Apple sandwiches with peanut butter and raisins, cheese, and pretzels

3.) Caramel rice cake sandwich, granola bar, cheese and yogurt

4.) Ritz cracker sandwich with Philadelphia chocolate spread in the middle, cucumber, cheese and peaches

5.) Ham rolls, cucumber, ritz crackers, hummus, cheese

6.) Yogurt, bananas, rasins, fruit salad (melon, kiwi, peaches, apples, grapes)

7.) Pizza swirl bread, cubed cheese, salad

I will make each of these lunches twice for a total of 14 lunches.

Things Snack Menu:

1.) Fall trail mix

2.) Apple, kiwi, grapes and melon

3.) Granola bars

4.) Veggie sticks

5.) Pretzels

6.) Yogurt

Making Pizza Fun For Fall

This morning was the first morning I walked outside and it felt like fall. I was super giddy about the change in temperatures here. It was only 75 degrees and I will take it! We love fall in our home (in case you didn’t already know this). My Things also get really into fall- just like their momma. We have a ton of Fall/Halloween cookie cutters so why not put them to good use. One of the items on the Things lunch menu this week was Fall Leaf Pizza Pockets. Let me share how easy it is to surprise your pumpkins with pumpkins or leaf pizza pockets in their lunch box or at home!

What you need:

Fall cookie cutters

Refrigerated pie dough

Pizza sauce

Cheese of choice- we use a Mexican blend

Roll our your dough and make your shapes with your cookie cutters.

Spread just a little sauce on top: add cheese. If you over fill it, the filling will ooze out creating a burnt mess.

Put the tops on and seal the sides by using the end of a fork to press down the edges. Bake according to your pie crust directions- mine was at 400 for 11 minutes.


My Things had no idea I was making these for them and they were super excited to see pizza in these shapes!

I made enough for supper and their lunch. I am still pre-making their lunches. Again, if you have not tried this, you really need to. Even though my Things do not go to school, it is so important for me to plan ahead and pre- make right now. I have no idea when I will be out of energy for the day and pre-making their lunches has saved me time and energy! I simply pull them out of the refrigerator and hand them over. Best. Thing. Ever!

As soon as Easy Lunchboxes comes back in stock, I plan to buy a week’s worth so that I can keep up 🙂

If you are interested in becoming an affiliate for Easy Lunchboxes, please click here.

Homeschool Room: Updated

I am so excited about our schoolroom/playroom now that I am officially ready for the other part of our curriculum to begin: Classical Conversations. We survived the 3 day practicum last week. Thank you for the prayers. Thing 3 did beautifully and really enjoyed himself. Now that I am done organizing, I thought I would show you how it ended up.

The picture below shows the bulletin boards for Thing 1 and 2, their desks and the work/craft table that I moved upstairs so that Thing 3 would have a space as well.


This is a brand new chart I got from the CC practicum last week. One of the organizers of the practicum was selling these. She doesn’t make any profit off of these charts and sells them at cost-plus shipping. If you like what you see, please visit her website to see what other items she has available. Her email address is listed on the blog and you can email her to place your order. She also has a game that I purchased, but it’s not pictured.


This is a up close shot of the bulletin boards. The natural light was pretty bright. Sorry for the bad picture.


Our reading area.


A new favorite is the computer center and listening center. This has bought me lots of time with Thing 2 and Thing 3 while I finish up with Thing 1.

New charts for CC. These are sticker charts to help me gauge how well they are memorizing their material and I should be able to easily discern by winter break if we will go for memory master or not based on this sticker chart. They get a sticker each week under each subject if they have it memorized.


After some feedback from a fellow CC mom, I decided the binders were not going to work for us. By the time you finish purchasing all the cards for the cycles she said it took about 6, I believe. So I went this route instead. It’s a 5×8 file box.


I can easily grab the cards as needed and they are labeled.


And last, but certainly not least is our tri-fold memory board. I have an awesome director who put this together for me. I have all the memory work for the entire year printed out and separated by week in a bin and I just rotate out the timeline cards and memory pages. I love this new item! If you want to make one for yourself, click here for the directions. My memory work isn’t placed in there like hers because I just threw it in pockets so you could get a good visual of mine 🙂


Our schoolroom/playroom and how we organize for the school year

Today’s post is about how I organize my schoolroom & day. I change things up every few weeks, including our schedule. Otherwise I think we all get a little burned out. Throwing out a schedule and starting over is part of the process. What worked last year may not work for us this year. Especially since I am adding a new-born into the mix. I think this is one of those things that is always a work in progress at our home.

How are you starting your day? Who is your support?

Which brings me to one of the first things I want to write about, prayer and support. I have a daily prayer partner (other than the man) that I pray with, bounce ideas off of, commiserate with, cry over the phone with…. You get my point. If I am having a rough go that morning I know that I can text her and tell her I need prayer and I’ll get it. It’s easy to get sucked into the remoteness of homeschooling where you feel alone, question your abilities, talents, and you wake up one morning and say to your husband, “Please remind me why we are doing this!” I’ve called him many times at work and said, “I’m failing, they aren’t learning, it’s too hard, I’m done…” any of this sound familiar? That’s usually where my husband and prayer partner step in and give me permission to walk away for a few days and refocus. I am one of those people who needs permission. There were several times last year where we took time off to refocus. It’s good to do that. I remember distinctly towards the end of the year how burned out I was. I was pregnant, going through morning sickness, and I was so done with the school for the year. We kept at it and finished on the goal date we had set for ourselves. In that moment I just thanked God for seeing us through. Start the morning with prayer as it sets the tone of your day. Don’t go into battle without your gear. Sometimes the man would lead us in prayer before he left, sometimes Thing 1 would lead us in prayer and sometimes I would pray with my prayer partner before starting the day. Either way, the days we skipped were the worst.

What is your plan? What does it look like?

I’m using a new planner this year that I have fallen in love with, The Well Planned Day. You must look at it! I have not only organized our school days, but my everyday in it. It has a place for weekly goals, chores, report cards, menu planning & grocery lists. It’s like this woman took a snap shop of all my lists and planner pagers from last year and placed them in one planner.

Having a plan should extend to more than just your school aged kids. If you are like me and have toddlers and newborn (soon to be)  to care for as well, you should have a daily plan for each of them. One of the things that I do with Thing 3 is rotate toys and activities with him. We do hold school in our playroom and without specific guidance from me it would get a little hairy in there. I usually start Thing 1 on independent tasks first, then start Thing 2 on a task, by that time Thing 3 is needing attention so I start him on his task. Below is an example of what Thing 2 (after school was completed) and Thing 3’s busy time looked like.

Monday- play with cars on car mats and car garages
Tuesday- build with the cardboard blocks, Legos, Duplo and Lincoln logs
Wednesday- color, play dough, puzzles, string pony beads on a pipe cleaner
Thursday- Play with Imaginext toys (they have a whole slew of these so they share and play together)
Friday- Crafts, paint with water, glue beans on paper, foam stickers on paper

This system works! You would be surprised how well it works versus just letting the toddlers run around in the playroom. Somewhere in there I sneak a snack time in and then it’s lunch time. That is my goal. Keep them busy until lunch. From there I have nap time as my saving grace to work on the hard subjects with the other two. Don’t be afraid to let the oldest stay up a little later to work on math or whatever that harder subject is. You homeschool so you can control all the schedules. You know that country song about the mom being the keeper of the Cheerios… we are also the keeper of the schedules. It’s totally ok for them to stay up an hour later to get that one on one with you that they need.


I love organization. Without it, I would fail miserably at all of this. I’ll start with the book shelves in our playroom. Each shelf is organized by reading level. Each child knows which shelf is theirs. I’ve done this since Thing 2 came along. It keeps each child accountable for the neatness of their shelf, they know where their books are and each one can easily get to them. If you have science magazines or you are a classical homeschooler and rely heavily on books to teach, try using magazine holders to separate subjects and topics to keep you and your child focused. 

At the beginning of the summer, we spent a little less than $100 to organize this game closet in our playroom. Is it worth it, YES. Having everything organized and having a place for everything saves my sanity and time. These shelving units came from Ikea, but I’m sure you could find something similar at The Container Store or Lowe’s. I have all of my school, craft, sewing and office stuff stored in them.

These containers purchased at Target hold all of our phonics cards, flash cards, alphabet cards & some extra craft items that I like to keep put up away from the Things. Mainly, finger paint! They are literally sitting on the Ikea shelving units.

As for organizing the school work itself I put each child’s curriculum on a separate shelf. In our state, I have to keep copies of all their work so each subject has a completed folder that it goes into and is filed by date. I didn’t bother tearing out the entire year’s worth of worksheets last year. I would do a week at a time and use my weekly work box to store them in for the Things.

Work for the week is organized by day in this unit I got from The Learning Store for about $5. We don’t have school on Fridays because I grocery shop that day, but we have a Do By Friday folder in case there is work that isn’t completed by Friday. This is like their homework folder.

Organizing Classical Conversations

I haven’t purchased the rest of our school supplies yet because we aren’t starting until August, but I can share my plans. Since we have decks of memorization cards I plan to buy a binder (5 1/2 x 8 1/2) with sheet protectors to place the cards in. Here is an example: Binder and sheet protectors

I am purchasing all the memory work (organized by week in a bin) plus a board to help me review and reinforce what we learn in co-op this year. Here is an example of what it will look like as well as directions on how to make one yourself.

Have a cd player in your schoolroom ready to play the Cycle 1 Audio songs.

CC Resources:

I’ll leave you with a list of blogs that pertain specifically to CC. I have found the Half a Hundred Acre Wood most helpful. She also has a free daily planner you can print out that follows the CC Foundations schedule.







 I know I didn’t touch on chores and how to keep your other job going – the house. I’ll write a separate post about that next week. Happy organizing!

Homeschooling: Little Passports in Australia

Little Passports

G’day, mate! We explored Australia this past month. There were so many interesting things to learn about when it came to Australia. We  have a cousin living in Australia and he allowed us to use some of his pictures for our study of Australia!

Here are some that he shared with us.

Red Kangaroos

He said they were using their tails to stand as they kick boxed each other.

I started to touch on the normal curriculum for Australia: boomerangs and kangaroos. However, there are so many different facts that I really wanted to focus on this time. With a little research, I found a free lap book study on Australia and customized it to what I wanted the Things to learn about. It turned out super cool!! Click here for the link that will take you to the lap book print outs. You may have to sign up (free) to gain access to the free print outs, but it’s worth the very few bothersome emails that I receive about curriculum at a discount.

This is the cover of the lap book. The “book” itself is a regular sized file folder.

As you open the book, this is the left side of the book.

We studied:

  • Flag of Australia
  • Where Australia is on a map
  • What continent Australia was on (we hadn’t studied continents yet so I went ahead and introduced the 7 continents to her)
  • A fact book about Koalas (habitat, appearance, diet, predators and other facts)

This is also of the left side of the book with the tabs lifted up. She did a lot of work on this!

This is a photo of the right side of the book.

We also studied:

  • What time it is Australia versus Florida
  • Common words in Australian. Ankle biter was her favorite phrase.
  • Studied the difference between herbivores carnivores and did a little exercise where Thing 1 had to look up 4 different animals from her Australian Animals pack and figure out which they were.
  • We also studied 7 different Australian animals

This is what the left side looks like with the tabs opened.

We did one last exercise is this lesson. I wanted the Things to learn about the Great Barrier Reef. After all, Sam and Sofia sent us a picture of it!

We saved this project for Australia Day which was January 26th. The Things had so much fun with this.

We used a shoe box, shells from our last beach trip, fish the Things cut out and colored with crayons, and a reef that they cut out. The Things painted the box using blue finger paint. That was all that I had on hand and it turned out fine. We found this cool craft at this website. They had a lot of great ideas if you are looking for further reinforcement when studying about Australia.

Here is a beautiful video of the Great Barrier Reef, check it out! The Things loved this!

I didn’t make anything to eat from Australia. I am still hoping we can find an Outback close by. After all, it is for educational purposes.Who am I kidding, I just want to go to Outback and this is a good excuse! See you next month when we talk about Mexico!

Today is the last day to receive 10% off of a new subscription. You can look at the link at the top for the code! Next stop with Sam and Sofia is Mexico! We can not wait to get cooking literally for this lesson!

Disclosure: All opinions are based on my own experience. This post does contain Affiliate links.