Category Archives: Homeschool Happenings

Reading Is Fundamental

Not sure how it happened that my baby girl is to be reading, but she’s 5 1/2 and so very smart and has the desire to learn which is so vital to success. She LOVES our one-on-one time together with our Phonics book and honing in on those skills with some resources I’ve made for her to use and interact with in a way that fosters a love of learning! I will share about those resources as well as some other learning tools we use in our kindergarten reading adventures. I chose the title for this post, because I do believe with all of my heart that if we as teachers nurture the love of learning through developing good readers they sky truly is the limit! If you can read, you can learn anything really!

While I don’t employ the use of screens for very long periods of time, we do use screens everyday in our classroom. It is where we find ourselves today as a society, and if I’m being completely honest and why not … I need to use the screens to keep the proverbial wheels of progress turning with six students grades 11 down to kindergarten.


Li’l Bit loves to watch these videos from time to time. Now they are for review purposes only as she has a solid grasp of letter sounds for both the consonants and vowels. I highly recommend this little series because the videos are 30 minutes or less in length and they are engaging without adding unnecessary fluff to them. I purchased ours with a groupon code about a year ago, and they are well worth the $35 I paid for the entire set. Continue reading


Classroom Reveal 2015-2016

Before I take you on a tour of our schoolroom, which I prefer to refer to as “the library” I will introduce you to the cast of characters here at CandL HomeLearning.

  • Curly, our oldest son, will soon be 17 years old. He’s a Junior this year, but he’s also enrolled in a class at the nearby Community College for Dual Enrollment.
  • Larry, our second oldest son, is 15 years old. He’s a Freshman this year, and he’s excited to rise to the challenge of taking accelerated courses.
  • Mo, our third oldest son, just turned 13 years old this summer, and he’s looking forward to tackling 7th grade head-on and so far he’s risen to the challenge.
  • Li’l Bro, our youngest son, turned 10 years old this summer, and he’s ready to be a 4th grader. He’s still trying to figure out where he fits in best, whether tagging along with his almost-twin sister or wanting to be with the big boys too.
  • Li’l Miss, our oldest daughter, is 9 years old but just 4 months younger than Li’l Bro, and she’s excited to continue learning in 4th grade this year.
  • Li’l Bit, our youngest daughter and the baby of the family, is 5 years old, and she couldn’t be more excited about being a Kindergartner this year and being “in real school” with her brothers and sister.


These wonderful T-shirts were designed by Mo and Li’l Miss, and we’re really happy with the way they turned out after ordering them custom on-line. Some of the biggest kids decided they’d rather not wear them on the “same day” as their siblings, but they were gracious enough to pose for a photo for me.

As my students enter our library, which is where 75% of our bookwork, as I like to call it, is done, they can see our rules at the top of the door. They are as follows: Continue reading


Keeping Busy with Baby Chicks

We raise chickens. We didn’t plan to really. We fell into it through a program called the Chick Chain with a local 4H Club. Our then 9-year-old son received 25 one-day-old chicks to raise for about 4 months with the agreement he’d bring his 5 best to the local County Fair. These chicks would then be auctioned to the highest bidder, and those funds used to buy chicks the following year for the program. What we didn’t expect is our son Mo received the Reserve Grand Champion award, which meant his chickens were the 2nd best of the show.


And from that moment on we were all hooked! I’m sad to say Mo’s affection for the chickens has worn off, but me and our three Littles love to care for them and they offer me a form of therapy honestly. There is just something therapeutic about watching them interact and to learn their language. They actually DO have different clucks and calls that mean different things. Now I’m not a chicken nor do I speak chicken, but I do understand a lot of their language. I come running out the back door for instance if I hear our rooster sending out a distress call, and I now know why our grandmas used to say “Now don’t go getting your feathers all ruffled” because I’m here to tell you the ladies most definitely DO ruffle those feathers at a certain time … or rather, after a certain event involving the rooster. Continue reading


Hands-On Math

One thing our Pre-Kindergartner loves is to sort. I used to wonder if she was “too old” for this type of activity, but then I reminded myself her finger muscles are still developing strength and sorting is a form of recognizing differences and similarities. Recently I’ve begun to make the sorting more challenging for her, and she asks to do this again and again. I also realized that I can tailor this easy-to-implement activity to her own unique level.

Here she is sorting objects by color. She asked for the various manipulatives and then decided on her own the best way to sort them would be by color. While it wasn’t challenging for her, she had fun and it kept her busy and using that brain and those fingers for a good half an hour while I worked with her bigger siblings. After she finished, we talked about which muffin tin had the most and which had the least items, and we worked in some adding and subtracting until she was done.


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First Day of School 2015

This is our 6th year of homeschooling. Our oldest son Curly is in 10th grade, and I am going to wax on about him for a moment because I rarely do. When we began this journey, he was starting 5th grade. Now I realize his high school years will be over in the blink of an eye. He recently took the ACT for the first time and he scored in the upper 20s! We are all so proud of him, and this was just a “practice” for him. He is very determined to score a 30 next year, and he did say I could put in print that he scored a 32 (out of possible 36) on the English portion. We might have had more than a few heated discussions over the years about the importance of his language studies, but even he admits it has all been worth the hard work.


I’m beyond proud of how hard this young man works and the man he is becoming more of every single day. He loves the Lord and has such a servant heart about him. The Lord could not have placed a more capable, trustworthy, diligent, respectful or loving young man as the oldest child in our family.

Today marked our first day back to school and our first school day ever in the year 2015. I thought it worthy of a post, plus I figured my few readers might be wondering if I was ever coming back. I did toy with the idea of shutting this blog down, but I do love to write and for now this is my platform. I have come full circle in this homeschooling journey especially as of late when I was striving to determine along with my husband the Prez what would be the best decision for our son Mo regarding his schooling. A wise mother and veteran homeschooler told me years ago: “All you really need to teach your children at home is your Bible and a library card.”

And all these years later, I have to say she is right. In truth, all you really need is your Bible, but I will readily admit I love books and my kids do too. This evening, my husband gladly fixed breakfast for supper because I asked him if he would,  so I could take Mo on a little date to the library. He has been asking me to take him for days, and really, what Momma can deny a 12-year-old boy a trip to the library? He chose three books, one he needs for his new on-line language class, and two for pleasure. One of those pleasure reading books is 800 PAGES LONG. Oh, how I’ve missed seeing this boy of ours so excited over reading. 800 PAGES. He was like a kid in a candy store at the library tonight, and what Momma doesn’t love an hour of time alone with one of her children when she has six to spread herself between. Here he is reading his new science text: Apologia General Science. My heart swelled seeing him rocking in the glider under my favorite blanket that he loves to curl up under too! LOVE.


Today, the 3rd graders (and our little PreK tag-a-long) worked on mostly our tutorial classes, which start back on Thursday. Continue reading


Another Detour: Bringing Our Boy Back Home

Life is a roller coaster, isn’t it. I like a roller coaster on occasion, but I don’t attempt those really intense ones.

Except life can feel like I imagine those twisty and curvy and loop-de-looping roller coasters feel. Last year, I shared in-depth about a decision that had been made to send two of our sons to public middle school at the beginning of this school year. We were optimistic and hopeful and willing.



Just when we exhale and think now I can take a deep breath I get a text saying, Our son has been suspended.

Yeah, I got that text. I was in a meeting of sorts and my phone rang with the school on Caller ID. It rang only once, so I figured it wasn’t a big deal. Except it was. They called the Prez though and reached him, so I didn’t hear back. Then the text from the Prez came through and I thought, “Well there’s a first time for everything.”

The writing was already on the wall before the suspension. When we were seriously considering sending our boys to the local zoned public school, I did what anyone would do right? I went to Go*ogle. I remember thinking when I found a site where people could rate schools that it couldn’t be that bad.

One reviewer said: When I moved here I thought Little House on the Prairie but what we got was Dangerous Minds without Michelle Pfeifer.

Sadly, I have to say I feel EXACTLY the same way now and I was hoping for Little House on the Prairie as well. In addition to the very low academic expectations at the school, the environment seems to be volatile and on top of that if your parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, etc. didn’t go to the school … well, you’re just a nobody.

Our boys have no friends there. From day one, our 6th grader was told, “We have been friends since 1st grade. We know each other and we don’t know you. Did your grandparents go here because ours did. He’s my 1st cousin and she’s my 2nd cousin and on and on and on.”

We went  to the Open House and met the teachers and passed the already-formed groups in the halls. We went to the Fall Festival in September and NO ONE except a couple of teachers spoke to us. Have you ever been to something like that where there are hundreds of people and its crowded and you feel incredibly lonely? I knew right then how our boys feel every day at the school. They have told us it feels like this in so many words, but then we experienced it. Our 8th grader does have a few kids who seem nice enough to him, but they call him “Ninja” which he really dislikes. He is the only Asian or non-white child in his entire grade.

Have I mentioned how unfriendly the environment is? Oh and the Prez signed up to be on the PTA and you know how many times he’s been to a meeting? NONE, because they said they didn’t need anymore help. YEP. We don’t have the Serenity Fair School bloodline (yes, I made up the name but you get the idea). He kind of joked when he signed up to be a PTA member and paid the annual dues that he doubted they would accept him into their group, but he was hoping to get involved. Saddest part is he would be a great asset to them, but we aren’t in in the inner circle or the outer one for that matter.

One of the reasons our 6th grade son accepted the invitation to meet another 6th grade student the size of an adult man in the bathroom for a fight was to try and put the bullies at bay. He said the two days he was back before Thanksgiving break did prove to be less volatile for him and that the bullies were surprised he stood up to them. He was beaten up pretty good though, and seeing your child with bruises all over their back from punches and kicks from an adult-sized kid when your son is small for his age? It HURTS. Bad.


Can you imagine walking into a new school as a middle schooler and the groups have been formed since kindergarten. To say they have had an uphill battle socially is an understatement. Our 6th grader also isn’t typical neurologically. Finally, after many years of wondering, I was asked by his therapist if I had considered he might have Aspergers. I have suspected he does for years, but when I have asked doctors and others they have assured me he didn’t have the markers or enough of them. It all makes so much sense now, and honestly it is a relief to know why he has some unique struggles in certain areas that frustrate us incredibly. But even more so, they frustrate him.

Our boys have big hearts and they really tried, but in all honesty they never had a chance at the school. I feel the same way about the surrounding community. It is very closed and if you don’t have roots here, you are an outsider. Period. You imagine moving to the country and finding friendly faces and welcoming arms, but in all honesty this is the most standoffish place I’ve ever lived in the South. It is very strange, but at the school it is even more apparent.

At the end of the day, one of the major reasons we chose to try public school was for the boys to experience school in a classroom outside the walls of our home. We also hoped they might make some friends, but that isn’t going to happen. As I type, I reflect on our hopes for them this school year and they’ve all been dashed. I know middle school is hard no matter where you are, but I did have this ideal that this little school in the country with 50 students or less per grade would be a nice transition for them back into public school. Boy, was I ever wrong.

In addition to the mounting social issues, the academics at the school are very inferior. Our 6th grader is incredibly bored and no, there isn’t a gifted program. Our 8th grader has been challenged in some areas, but he could be expected to do much more. They are in science rooms where the lab tables collect dust and house outdated textbooks. They have to share textbooks, so they can’t bring them home to study.

When my husband asked at the first parent-teacher conference why they aren’t doing labs in middle school science, he was told by the coach (I mean, teacher) that “I’ve requested supplies and equipment, but apparently there is no money for it.”I daresay our 8th grader has learned absolutely NOTHING in science this year, compared to  the science text we use in our homeschool, which is very in-depth and hands-on and engaging.

Oh, I could go on and on and on about how the academics pale in comparison to what they were doing, but what is the point? At the end of the day, my husband who made the ultimate decision to send them to school is very disappointed on many levels and he asked me to bring our 6th grader home in January. A big part of me doesn’t want to and I told our 6th grader I wasn’t sure I could do it as he is very resistant to my authority at times, but the thought of him getting beat up again in the school bathroom makes my stomach very upset. How can I leave him there to fight alone against the bullies?

He has had at least 10 teachers for his science and social studies class. Why you ask? Well, the permanent teacher was on medical leave when school started, so they hired a long-time sub. She was there until right before Thanksgiving. She was the ONLY bright spot in his day, and he misses her terribly. She was his homeroom teacher as well as science and social studies. She took interest in him and made some accommodations for him that made his day much more livable. But she’s gone. And since then, he has had multiple substitutes. I don’t even know what to think. Why don’t they hire a teacher??? But instead, each week it is somebody different including the mother of the kid who beat him up in the bathroom. Yep, you read that right. I can’t even comment further on that.

I know this post is super negative and I’m sorry for that. But this has just been building up and our 6th grader will be coming home for good when school finishes for the semester on December 19. He doesn’t even know we’ve made the final decision, but today I woke up and thought this is why I’m here. These kids are my mission field. He is worth it. So with my husband’s 100% support and our son also asking desperately to come back home, we will have 5 students again in our homeschool. Our 8th grade son has asked to finish the school year at this school, and we fully support him in that request. He has said he has no desire to go back there next year, and so it is very probable he will be home schooled again in the fall of 2015.

I have no idea what the future holds and I have had to majorly adjust my expectations and plans for our spring semester of school, and we are making plans for specially tailored coursework for our 6th grader, which will involved a private on-line school, but at the end of the day you just gotta do what you are feeling led to do. And trusting your gut can go a long way as well.


PreK with Li’l Bit {Week 8}

We are continuing our study of letters in the alphabet using God’s Little Explorers and this last week we studied the Letter Q. We visited an aquarium restaurant the weekend before for Li’l Bit’s sister’s birthday. We have been looking for the letter q when we are out and about, and Li’l Bit was excited to find the letter in the word aquarium. She said she could really “hear it” too. LOVE IT!!!


The weather has been spectacular here with the fall colors of the trees and landscape surrounding us equally spectacular. So, we’ve spent a lot of time outside especially on this week. On Monday, we took our gator for a ride in the woods, and Li’l Bit was excited to discover some red berries growing on a bush along the way. She counted all the way to 18 with these berries!




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Book Talk Tuesday: Integrating Art with Elmer and A Million Dots

My three younger students love to create works of art. Every week I try to think of ways (thank you Pinterest!) to combine art with planned lessons. Quite often, this is done by extending a book to add in an artful element of learning.

This past week, this was quite effortless. I love it when a good idea actually comes together! I know all teachers everywhere can totally relate. Holla!


I had been trying to snag A Million Dots from our local library for quite awhile. Last Wednesday, we finally found it available. I read it to them on Friday.

This book is so fun, because as you read through it you actually see a total of 1,000,000 dots! Each page shares a 6-digit number and an interesting fact. As we read the book my 3rd graders took turns reading the 6-digit numbers. They also read a page here and there, but this was my read-aloud to them that morning so mostly they listened while I read.



They loved it when I told them they could choose ANY 6-digit number, a favorite subject, AND we would do some research to write a fact about the number and subject matter. Continue reading


PreK with Li’l Bit {Week 7}

The week before we left for our beach trip, Li’l Bit spent a week focusing on the Letter I. The week was filled with learning more about insects including ladybugs and bees, which was perfect as we studied pollination with big brother and big sister.


Who knew painting rocks into ladybugs and bees would be so FUN?! After going on a nature hike to find just the perfect smooth stones, Li’l Bit took her time putting on several coats of paint and adding just the right details.


Li’l Bit also enjoyed making her “Ladybug Numbers” while her big sis and big bro made skip counting ladybug numbers. Most often if it involves numbers, I can individualize for each of my younger students, two of whom are in 3rd grade and of course Li’l Bit, who is 4 and in PreK.


She first outlined her numbers with a red marker, next she colored the inside with a red crayon, she added black spots that equaled the number, and finally she exercised those finger muscles as she cut out each number! I put them all on a clip ring for one-to-one activities! She was very proud of doing this one all by herself! Continue reading


Leaf Animals

We’ve been exploring leaves in our Botany class, and we plan to do this project below again this year. I took these photos last October with my then 2nd graders and 3-year-old, yet I never blogged about them. I thought it would be fun to share this fun little idea this Fall. The leaves are falling here and we have some beautiful colors already.

I highly recommend this book especially for this project, and I have included a widget below it with other book suggestions. It also includes our science text for this year: Exploring Creation with Botany.


Aren’t these so adorable?!

This one is an alligator made by Li’l Bit:



This is a beautiful butterfly made by Li’l Miss:



This is a turtle made by Li’l Bro:


Last but not least, this is my frog complete with some eggs:


Try this with your students as you explore the beautiful colors of Fall! Please share below what is your favorite season and why.