How to Use Sensory Play in Your Homeschool

How to Use Sensory Play in Your Homeschool

When I had my first baby I had no idea what sensory play was, but I already knew it was important. After her birth, I wanted her to experience as much as she could whether it was feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling, or even tasting. In my mind the more she experienced, the more connections her brain made. So when I learned about sensory play it just made sense!

What exactly is Sensory Play?

Sensory Play is an activity that evokes the senses. Not all sensory play will evoke all the senses, but generally it will involve at least two. This can be as simple as playing with water and feeling the temperature as well as hearing the splashes and seeing the ripples.

Why do kids need Sensory Play?

All people, even adults, learn best when their senses are engaged. This explains why many of our memories may be triggered by just a smell. When a baby is born it knows little of the world around it and (like all of us) uses its senses to learn.  As it experiences different sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch the brain will connect them, so sensory play enhances learning. Sensory play also gives kids the chance to practice fine motor skills like pouring or pincher grasp. It gives them a chance to experience cause and effect when given things they can interact with like water, shaving cream, or food coloring. It gives them a chance to boost their creativity with free play and exploration of the world around them. And as long as you are there discussing what is going on (which supervision is needed especially with young children), it gives them a chance to develop a larger vocabulary and make connections to what words really mean. How can you know what a splash looks like or sounds like until you experience it and are given the words to go along with it.

I am sure you can see why Sensory Play is valuable to the young child. Honestly even my early elementary kids still love it, and they can start to learn even more from it. That vinegar and baking soda eruption is more than some stinky bubbles now; they can begin to learn the science behind it and think of ways to alter it. They are still learning vocabulary from it as well!

Another benefit I have seen in my own kids is that it can calm them down. If they are having an overly energetic day, a sensory bin can help them refocus and keep them entertained for a while. Usually after some time in sensory play they can come back to school work or house work or just quieter play!  This may not be true for all kids or even all sensory activities, but I have noticed it with mine.

Want to start some sensory play with your kids?

Here is how you can! There is really no right or wrong way to put together a sensory bin. Sometimes I use a plastic bin, sometimes the water table or bathtub, sometimes our homemade light table or just a table depending on what we have.  Think of some things you can include in your sensory play. You can use play dough, rice, beans, soap bubbles, marshmallows, shredded paper, and on and on;  really there is no end to what you use. You do need to think about your own child and if they are likely to taste whatever you put in it. If you have young children who still stick everything in their mouths (which they do for sensory input) you may want to stick with edible sensory fun like pudding, yogurt, jello, or homemade edible play dough. You can keep it simple or add a fun theme.  if you do choose to add thematic components make sure you organize them aesthetically in the bin! If it is pretty and looks like fun, our child is much more likely to dive in!

I think one thing that stops some parents from adding sensory play is the mess it can create. It’s true, sensory play can be very messy. Some is definitely less messy then others though. So my tips for minimizing messes are:
  • do as much as you can outside (not possible in bad weather),
  • if you are inside, make sure the bin is on a easy to clean surface (not carpet),
  • or go one step further and place a large plastic tablecloth under the bin
  • or even let your child explore the bin in the bathtub where clean up is easy!

Sensory play really doesn’t have to be intimidating and most all children really enjoy it. You may find specific materials your child doesn’t care for, but don’t give up if a bin or two get rejected! If you need some ideas to get you started check out my Sensory page where I have listed some of the bins we have used.

Ashley is a classic strong-willed child,  she fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian is 2005 only to realize a new dream had formed, having a family with her husband (another strong-willed child). After much heartache, they were blessed with 2 daughters and a son, who are all proving to be just as spirited as their parents! Though she still works part-time, she fills her days off with fun activities and lots of learning with her three kids. And this is where the blog comes in, Life with Moore Babies, is where she documents the activities they do and the places they go in hopes that someone might be inspired to do some “fun learning” with their own kids. You can find Ashley on FacebookPinterest,Google +, and Twitter.

Weekly Giveaway: $50 Amazon Card + Freebies Link Up


It’s week 28! We love bringing you these giveaways each and every week here on Homeschool Survival. If you have Freebies you’d like to share, be sure to link up and we will be Pinning and Sharing through the week. We’d like to encourage you to like us and interact with us on Facebook. Visit us there to find and share more fantastic posts. We are a community where you can ask questions, get mom to mom answers and be encouraged. In fact, if you happen to have any questions about homeschooling, feel free to leave us a comment here…and we’ll be happy to post them on the page, or even write a blog post about it. We are here to help you in your journey and can’t wait to hear more from you! Be sure to read all the way to the end, where the fabulous giveaways will be posted.

Back to School Money - $50 Amazon card

This Weeks Featured Giveaway 

Homeschool Survival 

$50 Gift Card from Amazon
You’ll be able to purchase supplies your family needs and take advantage of the wonderful “Back to School” sales going on daily!
The team here at Homeschool Survival came up with our own favorite product ideas for homeschool. These are things we use regularly and recommend to others to enhance the homeschool year!

With so many little guys in my house during the homeschooling day busy boxes are a must for me! I love how easy they are for little hands to use and the activities are endless. We use them to create pictures and other art projects. They are great for beginner writers and readers. Print off letters for them to “trace” with dots,  have them match dots to numbers, or play find the letter by printing off a sheet of mixed up letters and only dotting certain ones. ~ Emmalee Hoggatt, The Hoggatt Homeschool




I absolutely love this laminator. It’s very reasonably priced. We love to laminate play-dough mats and homemade games. Its a great access to our homeschool. ~ Jill Craft, Blessed Beyond a Doubt

My first choice of favorite homeschool product is Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. It is really all I need for early elementary level science, and I continue to use it all the way through high school. It is a timeless nature study guide, science text, collection of unit studies, and field guide all in one. By far my best homeschooling investment.                  ~ Anne Campbell, Learning Table

I DO SO love a good globe and this one is very affordable! I’ve used everything from wall maps, to blow up globes in our family homeschool. This year we will be enjoying the real deal as we regularly study exciting people, places, and things from around the world!        ~ Kelli Becton, Adventures in Child Rearing

Educating the WholeHearted Child

Any time I need encouragement, as a homeschool mom, this is the book I pull out.  There are so many practical tips and tricks throughout the book that give me the perfect pep talk that I need.  It has everything from home organization ideas to curriculum ideas.  Really, everything a homeschooling mom would need!    — Sarah Robinson, Sidetracked Sarah & Owner of Homeschool Survival.  

Words are Categorical Series
We love learning grammar with the books in the Words Are Categorical series. These charming books teach students grades 2-4 with fun titles such as A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink (nouns) and Hairy, Scary, Ordinary (adjectives). There are also books for verbs, adverbs, pronouns, compound words, conjunctions, prepositions, synonyms, and more!              ~ Marcy Crabtree, Ben and Me
Smead Envelope with String-Tie Closure

Smead Envelope with String-Tie Closure, Side Loading, Letter Size, Green Poly, 5 per Pack (89523)

These are my favorite right now because I use them for several things in our homeschool organization. I use them to hold unit studies, all the printable packs I print out and I also use them for workboxes. I have tried multiple things as workboxes and these are my best find. They are durable and the boys can see the contents inside. They are strong enough to hold large high school size books, a folder and spiral notebook. I Velcro the workbox tags to the outside and tape their lesson to the outside. They close up tight and nothing falls out or gets lost!  Works great! ~ Janeen Herlugson, Sprouting Tadpoles


Giveaway – Enter with 1 link or Enter with ALL!

One family will receive a $50 Amazon card to shop for their homeschool (or other family needs) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure to head over to to see what other Homeschooling Giveaways you can enter to win or Freebies you can get!  The giveaways & freebies link up is every Monday! Are you a homeschooling company who would like to sponsor the weekly Giveaways for Homeschoolers?  Email Sarah of Homeschool Survival at sidetrackedsarah (at)    

Are you all finished with your homeschool shopping? What is on your supply list?


Other Giveaways & Freebies: Let’s Link Up!

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)

Growing A Homeschool Child

It’s that time of year!  Garden Season!

There are very few, if ever, any days in the garden that I’m not reminded of our Creator.

I see His beauty.

I see His grace.

Planting & Growing Your Homeschool

I see the awesomeness of Creation.  And without fail….I see how my garden is so much like our lives.  No wonder the Psalmists and Jesus Himself used nature to teach.  It’s always such a perfect picture and reminder of our own lives and journeys.  So, today, I’m offering advice on how to grow that Homeschooled Child.  Now remember, I’m no professional gardener, parent, or Homeschool Mom.  But our God….He is the perfect teacher and I think you just might find some inspiration, encouragement, and food for thought here in my Homeschool Garden instructions!  Happy Planting!


Prepare Your Soil.  This is SO important.  The type of soil you plant your seed in often decides much of the outcome of the plant…um, student!  A soil filled with scriptural vitamins and minerals and laced with a teachable spirit has proven to be the most workable and fertile ground!


Thank the Lord for the seed He’s given you to work with here, aka your student!  It’s important to take care not to damage the seed while planting.  Instead, carefully place your child in the correct depth of soil (level of learning) and cover with the right amount soil (curriculum) to allow them to sprout properly!  If and when in question, know you can always refer to the guidebook (your Bible) for proper instruction, guidelines, and help to make such decisions.


Once your ground (a strange mixture of their hearts along with your own) has been prepared, and your child properly planted at the right level and proper kind of curriculum for their needs, be ready to tend your garden while it prepares to grow.  This is a season of watering and waiting.  Remember to water (teach) every day, even when you don’t see results.  You must also allow adequate sunshine into this equation!  By exposing your seed to the light of God through scripture, experience, and great fellowship, you’re adding the other essential to growth!  While you continue to consistently water (teach) your child, changes are forming and growing in their hearts, minds, and souls, even when you can’t see!  Be ready for that first sprout!  It’s so encouraging and exciting to see the beginning of knowledge take root and begin to grow!  Be sure to thank God, pat yourself of the shoulder, talk to and praise that tender sprout, and then move onto step 4!



Continue allowing your student the exposure to God’s light, the regular watering of your teaching, and of course regularly monitor your soil in case it becomes depleted.  If that’s the case, a good dose of fertilizer might be needed to give your student a boost.  The best fertilizers out there are study in God’s word, church events, camps and getaways, and sometimes even just an uplifting visit and outing with other homeschool families.


Stay on top of the weeds and grass in your garden!  The growth of these outsiders is normal and to be expected.  It’s important to watch for these distractions and negative influences on your student.  In our garden we’ve found these in the form of too much electronics, the distractions of busyness, and over commitment.  When weeds or grass first begin to sprout, pull them immediately before they become a problem!  I know that this isn’t always possible.  But don’t give up, do your best, and continue to clean out the grass and weeds from your precious garden.  When these things are around your plant, they take the needed nutrients from the soil away from your student for their own growth.  When left to grow too long, it becomes even trickier to remove them and they can even become so entangled in the roots of your own plant that their removal causes damage.  So, tend to the weeds!

Keep Those Life Weeds Awry


Enjoy the fruits of your garden!  This homeshool life is beautiful!  Beautiful on perfect days, on not so perfect days, and even on those days you may be tempted to run to the grocery store to meet your garden needs instead of working the hard but fruitful garden you’re growing!  Stick to it!  Enjoy the times of rest.  Be grateful for the days it rains and your garden is watered by God’s hand so you get a break.  Be proud of your fruit, that child you grow.  Be proud of the gardener, yourself.  And above all else, give thank to the Creator of them all!


Jennifer Whitten FamilyJennifer is a first year homeschooling Mom of 3 elementary aged kids and step mom to one middle school girl.  She was born and raised in Wyoming but now enjoys country living in Louisiana with her husband and kids.  She is a lover of Jesus, family, gardening, canning, all things creative, and hog hunting with her husband.  Tea enthusiast and crochet addict, she can be found blogging about all things family, devotional, health, and homeschool atStop, Pray, Listen.  A volunteer peer counselor at a Pro-Life Crises Pregnancy Center, her other passion is sharing the gospel with women in need.  Far from perfect, but in love with this grace filled life with kids, Jennifer makes it her mission to Stop, Pray, Listen, and Obey.

Aiming for Mastery

Aiming for Mastery @homeschoolsurvival

This time of year, many homeschool moms start discussing mastery.

How do you know when students have mastered a subject and are ready to move on to the next level? Some experts recommend that you complete at least 75% of a textbook to consider it credit-worthy.

But, what if you don’t use a textbook? Or, what if you switch curriculum mid-year?

According to HSLDA, “For courses that do not use a standard high school-level textbook (perhaps you are putting together your own unit study, or you are using an integrated curriculum), log the hours that your child spends completing the course work. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work.” (

With those guidelines in mind, I go one step further when evaluating my students’ readiness to move to the next level. I move ahead when they’re ready, and I don’t move ahead if they’re not.

It isn’t easy to let go of the feeling that you have to complete this or that, or that you have to check this or that box in the plan book. It is also a struggle when you have the feeling that you’re behind if you haven’t reached a certain chapter in the book by now. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been homeschooling for eleven years, and every year is still a new experience as we move into upper level high school classes. But, I decided it is more important that my kids know enough to move forward than it is to finish the book by a certain time.

Aiming for mastery is the goal:

  • When my youngest masters printing, we will move into cursive.
  • When my oldest masters Algebra I, we’ll move on to Algebra II.
  • We might set anatomy aside for a while and study ecology and astronomy during the summer months, and then pick up where we left off.
  • Even when 180 days have been completed, we will continue reading our read-aloud novel until we finish it, because we really want to know how everything turns out.

Equipping my kids with the joy of lifelong learning is my primary target.


Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Setting Up Learning Centers in My Home (cont’d)

This post is a continuation of a post explaining each of the centers in the Jones home.  In it, I explain why we use each center and to whom they’re catered to.  To read the original post, click here.  

Setting Up Learning Centers in Our Home -

This is some of my thought process on creating centers here in our home.

I usually try to set a center up geared toward each of my children.  Remember, today, they are 1, 3, 4, 4, 5, and 6.
Some of my centers overlap children, but I usually intend that center to enrich one particular child.

Example, the HWT (Handwriting without tears) center is usually geared towards my 6 year old daughter.  She is finally able to focus long enough to do 3-4 letter word copy work!  WOOO HOOO
With all of her processing delays, this has been a HUGE hurdle for her!

My 5 year old son that arrived at 17 months old. He has ADHD like crazy, FAS,  and SEVERE sensory issues.  I usually try to focus on his strengths during centers because of his lack of focus on “hard” tasks.
Usually the center focused on him is something like the Spielgaben kit or pattern blocking and repeating.  He loves puzzles and spatial challenges.

Dear 4 year boy that has only been with us for 22months.  He has dyspraxia.  This makes a lot of things not “work” right.  I usually focus on a coordination activity or vestibular stimulation.  Examples would be: the mini trampoline, bouncing on the peanut, arm walks on the peanut, scooter board adventures, using the wiggle disks as a walking trail are just a few ideas. Here is a blurb about dyspraxia.

A person with dyspraxia has problems with movement, coordination, judgment, processing, memory and some other cognitive skills. Dyspraxia also affects the body’s immune and nervous systems.

Now to my 4 year old boy that we have had since he was 7 weeks old.  He has FAS like biological siblings, but is on target. Has MAJOR sensory issues.  There is not much he can’t figure out!  I usually do his center last.  He gets leftovers because he can write his name, color whatever, walk on anything, jump, bounce, scoot and everything in between very age appropriately.

Sweet little 3 year old daughter.  She breaks your heart! She had fetal drug exposure and the effects have been so detrimental to her!  She is 3, but her reasoning and processing are only about 15-18months most days.  She is sweet and stubborn so we know she is ours! LOL  I usually do some sort of pattern material on the mirror or light table for her.  She has glasses and they are very strong. 🙁 She also works well on the mini tramp.  We do a lot of work with her in therapy to get her more independent. 🙂

Now to the baby of the group.  She arrived at 7 weeks old and looked like a starving stroke baby.  She did not move the left side voluntarily.  She now is 23 months old and in to everything.  Her rationing and emotional outbursts are the only signs to the outside world of her fetal drug exposure.  She roams the centers and usually has a puzzle targeted at her.  She is the biggest JOY to be around with her wit and personality.  They are both very present and dominating, most days.


Venus JonesVenus is a veteran homeschool mom to 9, the youngest 6 of which she’s adopted.  She has been homeschooling for 13 yrs.  She recently started a new blog called Mommy Bear Blog and would love for you to follow her journey there.






Medication is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

Medication is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of


“He’s taking Ritalin,” she whispered to me behind a cupped hand. “It’s really helping, but I don’t want people to know.”

I didn’t ask her why not, because I know. I have gotten the sideways glances, the long winded speeches on addition and conspiracy, the explanations of standardized testing being the cause of the “ADHD epidemic”.

My children both have ADHD. They are, in fact, 2E, meaning twice-exceptional: gifted but challenged. My daughter is really 4E; she is highly gifted, with an IQ in the 140s, but she’s dyslexic, ADHD, and has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. My son’s IQ is about 5 points lower than his sisters (5 points she knows all too well!) and he has ADHD and an anxiety disorder.  This is largely why we homeschool. The public school simply wasn’t capable of teaching my kids. They weren’t equipped to deal with a 1st grader who couldn’t identify the letters of the alphabet but could name every part of a horse, including the internal organs, and their functions. Nor could they handle the boy who read better than the teacher but could not hold a conversation with a peer.

We thought homeschooling would solve the problems. Instead, it exacerbated them. My daughter’s ODD, which had formerly evinced in refusals to shower or go to bed or do math home work, became a minute-by-minute battle over every step of every task. Pick up your pencil. No. Please, hold your pencil. Pencil thrown across the room. Go get your pencil. No. Book thrown. You get the idea.

A psychologist, not a general practitioner, diagnosed the children. Our GP suspected ADHD, but we agreed a psychologist was better equipped to make the diagnosis. Medication and behavior therapy has helped immensely. The ODD has resolved for the most part. Both kids are happier and better able to concentrate. Both have coping skills learned through the behavior therapy to use instead of temper tantrums or screaming. Both are excelling in their academics and in their interpersonal relationships.

There is an epidemic of misdiagnosis with ADD and ADHD. There are most certainly children being medicated who should not be, and there are many reasons contributing to this…not the least of which are unrealistic expectations placed on very young children to sit still and get perfect scores on standardized tests!

However, an epidemic of misdiagnosis does not mean no one has ADHD. ADHD is a real disorder that stems from delayed growth in the frontal lobes of the brain. Medication can, in many instances, encourage the frontal lobes to grow so the patient no longer has ADHD symptoms in adulthood.

ADHD is not a five year old who cannot sit still for five hours straight and fill bubbles on a test sheet. ADHD is more like a five year old who throws her crayons at the teacher during circle time and stomps on another student’s hand because she’s annoyed. ADHD is more like a ten year old boy who sees nothing wrong with using a pencil sharpener while the teacher is speaking to the class because “my pencil is dull”, and does not understand why this upsets the teacher.

To be ashamed of utilizing medication for your child’s disorder is to show your child they are shameful. It says to your child, “There is something wrong with you, and it is so awful that people won’t like us if they find out.”

ADHD is no more “shameful” a disorder than diabetes, but it falls under the stigma of mental illness. Organic mental disorders have been stigmatized since time immemorial…many of the common insults are terms of mental illness: crazy, loco, nutcase, “ain’t right”, mental. But our kids are none of these things. ADHD is as simple, and as complicated, as something just not connecting the same way as other people’s. (In this way, it is no different than dyslexia).

I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of having ADHD any more than my daughter should be ashamed of dyslexia or my son of anxiety.  Or than I should be of my spinal cord injury. These are things their bodies do beyond their control. Medication helps me to walk, it helps my mother control her blood sugar, and it helps my kids control their racing thoughts. I am not ashamed of this. I am grateful.


Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

Homeschool Movement With Easter Eggs


Here in the state of Washington it rains ALL the time. It is only sunny about 90-100 days out of the year and it can be quite depressing. As a homeschool mom, we want our kids to keep active and busy, but if your kids are like mine, they get bored with the same old activities. Recently I got a package of plastic Easter Eggs to use as a Math activity with my youngest.  After we completed the activity, he wanted more time playing with the eggs. On a whim I came up with some activities and they loved it!!!

Homeschool Activities Using Easter Eggs

The first activity they did was balancing an egg on a kitchen spoon.  Here are some things that we did:

  • Walk from the living room to the kitchen with the eggs without them dropping to the floor
  • Walk backwards from the living room to the kitchen
  • Walk forward two steps, turn and walk backward two steps and repeat


They enjoyed this new activity and did so well with it that I decided to turn it up a notch.  Here are some other things we did:

  • Balance the egg on a spoon and hop through the house (this did cause many “broken” eggs – good thing they were plastic:)
  • Crawled on the floor while balancing the eggs under their chin
  • Scooted all over the floor on their backs with their feet straight up and the egg balancing on their feet. This was quite hilarious! 🙂

We had a great time and really enjoyed it! This was just one idea of how to beat the rainy day blues. What are some of the ways you beat the blues or keep your kids entertained on rainy days, or snowed-in days for that matter?  I would love to hear from you!!!

In Christ,



Laura PraterLaura is an Army wife to a Soldier who has served the last 18.5 years active duty. They reside in WA for the time being with their 3 boys. Laura home schools all 3. They are very active in their church and community. You can find Laura blogging on Facebook at, on Pinterest and on Twitter

Teaching Multiplication with Dyslexia

This post contains affiliate links.

Teaching Multiplication with Dyslexia

Dyslexia can be really cool, but when it comes to math…not so much. Multiplication, which requires memorization of many numbers in which order is important, is especially tricky.

My daughter Camille is dyslexic, and while she has learned to read quickly, multiplication has stumped her. She is nearly 11 and does 5th grade work. Because of her challenge with multiplication, she is behind where her clever mind would have otherwise brought her. Without multiplication, everything from division to fractions to geometry is impossible.

When I taught in a private school we used Saxon math. My kids had also used this in public school, so I continued with Saxon when we began homeschooling. However, after the first year together we found Saxon wasn’t the best fit for Camille. Multiplication was explained as rapid addition. While this is true, that doesn’t help with memorizing the facts. The curriculum moved rapidly from single to double digit multiplication, and she was left behind.

Through the past two years of working with her, we’ve found multiple products to help Camille learn multiplication facts. As a dyslexic, I wish these products had been around when I was in elementary school! I believe they can help any dyslexic child learn multiplication.

  • Times Tales: For many dyslexics, it is easier to remember a picture than numbers or letters. Times Tales is a set of silly scenarios that give the child a mental picture relating to the fact. For instance 6×4=24 is 6 year olds playing musical chairs for 24 hours. Camille and I used Times Tales 8 months ago and she can still recall each of the facts without fail.
  • CardDroid app: This is one of the best math apps I’ve found. You can set the operation(s), the number of questions, and the number range used (between 0 and 20). Unlike most apps, you can change the smallest number and the greatest number, so if you want to specify “multiplication and division with 6s,7s, and 8s” you can do that. There’s a cute selection of color schemes and sounds (including “castle” with harps and “electric guitar” with riffs) that keep the child motivated.
  • Tables: Repetition is key, and it is helpful for the dyslexic child to fill in multiplication tables. I use graph paper to create a table for Camille to fill in. When she does this, it helps her create a mental image of the table that she can recall to “see” the facts.
  • Math Mammoth: We’ve tried many math curricula, and I find Math Mammoth to be the best dyslexia. The material is presented clearly and in small steps. These small steps build up to more complex problems. Also, visual aids are used that my daughter finds more clear for her way of learning. For instance, multiplication problems are broken down into place value. 61 x 5 is shown as 60×5 + 1×5, which is less intimidating and easier to compute. Using this method, Camille can multiply three digit numbers in her head, where she couldn’t multiply simple facts before.
  • Estimating: Teaching your child to estimate the answer to a problem (mentally) before multiplying can help them recognize if they’ve made an error.
  • Multiplication Tricks: For some people (myself included), no amount of repetition will get the facts straight in my brain. I use tricks such as: 4s are double-doubles; 5s count by five; 6s are times 5 + (the number); 7s are double-double-doubles less (the number); 8s are double-double-doubles; 9s are (the number) x10 – (the number); 10s stick a zero on it’s rear! Whatever method your child uses, these tricks can help them compute the answer when they can’t recall the fact.

Dyslexia brings a lot of gifts but also brings challenges, particularly remembering numbers in order. (Phone numbers defy me!) Fitting the method to the child’s gifts and needs is the beauty of homeschool!


Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

It’s OK to Change Your Homeschool Curriculum


It's OK to Change Your Homeschool Curriculum

Well, you”ve made it to halfway through the school year.

How do you feel?


Need a break?

Are you satsified with your curriculum choice? Its ok if you’re not. Sometimes we get excited and feel we have to get the latest and greatest versions, do everything the manual says, go on every field trip etc. But to me that’s not homeschooling. If you’re feeling too rushed and the kids are getting burned out and overwhelmed, then maybe you should analyze your schedule and take a step back. We as parents have a responsibility to raise our children, teach them and nurture them. We feel pressured to do the very best far and beyond what we may be capable of and be subject to burnout.

This happened to me. Last year was rough. We were having a difficult time finacially, my husband had a bad bout of sciatica and then when everything seemed to calm down and we were getting back on our feet we got a letter in the mail. Our landlords wanted to sell the house we were liviing in for 7 years and wanted us to move. They only gave us 2 months. 2 months to pack up 7 years of stuff and try to find another place to live. We were devastated. It was the first house we ever lived in.  We were in turmoil. How could I possibly homeschool too? How could I follow the curriculum, househunt and pack? Well, I didnt.

We took a break. I was so stressed. The kids were stressed and I can’t imagine what my husband was going through. Children are learning all the time whether you have a curriculum or not. It’s their nature. They are naturally curious. If your kids are like mine, they love to ask questions. Sometimes that could lead to a trip to the library to look at books about what interests them, going online, there are so many possibilities. Even some television shows are educational and can maybe even give you a break while they are watching it. SCORE!!! Unit studies are also another avenue to use and also lapbooks.  It’s almost endless.

Just find what works for your family. It also helps if you find out what learning style your children are and go from there. For instance my son doesnt sit still for long periods of time so having an actual curriculum with alot of bookwork and seat work wouldn’t be a good fit for him. My daughter could sit longer but she will drift off into never-neverland if she gets bored. A curriculum with a lot of reading where she can’t be creative, wouldn’t be a good fit for her. Find what fits your child and your lifstyle. You want them to love learning.  

Fast forward 6 months: we are in our new home and getting back into our groove. I decided to ditch the curriculum we were using and do something else. Unschooling fits our lifestyle. And guess what? The kids are fine. We survived not using a boxed curriculum. And I’m a much better mother and teacher for it.

Setting Up Centers in My Home

“Centers” are easier for us.  I set up 5-8 “centers” 3-5 times a week to let the kids rotate through. At least one of these “centers” is next to mom to work on fine motor handwriting.  They include things like play dough, a light table, mirror work, a mini trampoline , pattern blocks, coloring, sticker pages, scooter board running, pegs, and the list goes on!  We are like a mini therapy center here with the EIGHT hours of therapists we entertain each week.  If it is a therapeutic device designed for under age three and costs less than $45, we probably have a version of it!

Here’s a few pictures of the centers we have set up so far:

Need to get some of the energy out!

Need to get some of the energy out!

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A favorite center around here!  The kids will be so excited when the neighborhood grows!  Our PT is bringing us another play house.

A favorite center around here! The kids will be so excited when the neighborhood grows! Our PT is bringing us another play house.

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This kit is fun!!!!

This kit is fun!!!!



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Tracing her letters

Tracing her letters

Build it and then write

Build it and then write










He LOVES to play in the play house. :D  He will be a good dad, one day!

He LOVES to play in the play house. 😀 He will be a good dad, one day!

This is how I’ve organized my centers. I am using the “scrapbook” organization boxes because they are easy to stack and semi-clear for easy viewing.  I place each center into each of these boxes (assuming it will fit).


They are so easy to use! LOVE the deal I got them for too!

They are so easy to use! LOVE the deal I got them for too!

I am planning to have boxes geared towards therapy days and non therapy days.  Mondays and Wednesdays, we have 2 full hours of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy simultaneously. This consumes a BIG chunk of time from 8:30-10:30 AM.

Another approach I am thinking of trying: Subject boxes for when we only have a few minutes here and there.
I can set up a handwriting or a reading box in a Target shoe box type of box. These are more child friendly and they could be a bit more independent.

My goals this semester are:

Phonics recognition to beginning to read
Phonetic sound awareness
Letter Identification
Independent copy writing
Independent letter copy work
Letter formation
Single digit addition
Oral counting to 50
Number writing to 20
Grouping in groups up to 10
Learn to listen for details in a story and recite those details
Learn to draw a picture and tell some facts about it
Start a 50 states study with the colonies in the forefront

Keeping the above goals in mind, we should have a great semester!  Below are some fun therapy pics from our house! Hope you enjoy!

Setting up Centers in My home


 Do you use centers in your home?  Tell me how you differ in setting them up.

Venus JonesVenus is a veteran homeschool mom to 9, the youngest 6 of which she’s adopted.  She has been homeschooling for 13 yrs.  She recently started a new blog called Mommy Bear Blog and would love for you to follow her journey there.