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.

Teen Writing Course Giveaway ++ Freebies/Giveways Link Party

 (This post contains affiliate links) Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 6

Welcome to Week 6 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few weeks with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far!

Last week’s winner of the Allon Book & Parent’s guide is:

Judith M.  (juditht***@*****.com).  Congratulations!  I will be in touch shortly. If you’re new here:  We are hosting one giveaway each Monday that is put together especially for homeschooling families!   We’ll have pampering items, curriculum, e-books, print books and more!  After the giveaway, we’re  featuring a spot where other bloggers can share a link to their own giveaways that they’re hosting on their own blogs.  It’ll be fun!  It’s a great place to come where you can enter several giveaways for homeschoolers AND get some freebies for homeschoolers all at once.  Plus, it’s an easy way to get to know some new products and try them out for yourself.

This Week’s Giveaway is Hosted by Fortuigence

Fortuigence_essayrockstar_logo If you or a family you know is homeschooling a teenager, they NEED this program!  It is an online Expository Essay Writing Course.  My 16 year old son has taken the course and we’ve been really impressed with how his writing skills have improved.  Yes, I’m a blogger.  No, I’m not an expert in writing.   Blogging is pretty much written in conversational style, so I’m not always worried about the intricate details.  🙂  I was absolutely thrilled to have Lily, the writing teacher behind the scenes of Fortuigence, take on the grading and instructing of my son’s writing.   It alleviated some of the stress of teaching an older child in our home!  Here’s a quote sharing a little more about this course from the Fortuigence website:

The Expository Essay  When your child takes this short course with us, they’re going to learn to write an expository essay. This type of essay is important because it’s the most common type of essay your kids will ever write and one they’ll be asked to do frequently in high school, college, and in the workplace! The purpose of an expository essay is to explain or inform your audience objectively about a specific subject. In this short course your kids will be taught several approaches on how to give clear and thorough written explanations about their topic of choice. For example, they could explain a step by step process, give a general overview, classify their topic into several types, or compare and contrast different aspects of their topic. They can choose whichever approach they like. Last but not least, your kids are going to be trained in a 5-step writing process that they can apply to any type of writing project they face in the future. This short course is one of four writing units in our semester long Essay Rock Star writing program and takes about four weeks to complete. But here you and your kids have the opportunity to sample our online classroom and teaching approach without having to make a big financial commitment from the start.

From a review that I did for Essay Rockstar on my other site, Sidetracked Sarah, you can see just how much we love this program:

“By using the Essay Rock Star writing course, my son was able to dramatically improve his writing skills. He was not at all confident at the beginning of the course, asking me lots of questions as we went along. But, as time went on, he rarely asked me anything. I’d have to ask him or log into the platform to see if he had completed his assignments. The longer he was in the program, I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing results that I was finding! Each communication that Lily (a.k.a Mrs. I.) sent to my son was always so very encouraging. She never made him feel dumb, but always helped him to build his confidence in writing with her encouraging words of instruction. She has a gift for teaching children! Each time she communicated with my son, she would give useful tips to help him improve his essay, if needed. It was always just enough information to guide him in the needed direction, so that he could complete the assignment as instructed. My son went from hesitant writer to confident writer in two essay assignments. To say that makes me very happy is an understatement!”   Read more

If you’d like more information about Essay Rock Star, be sure to check out their site by clicking on the picture below.  There you will learn how the course works, screen shots of actual communication between the teacher and student, You Tube videos and more! Essay Rockstar - Expository Essay Writing Course Giveaway!

Are You Interested in a FREEBIE, just for Parents?!

free writing course If you are interested in learning more about teaching writing, be sure to sign up for Fortuigence’s free course for parents called  “Top Teach: 7 Steps to Gain the Confidence, the Know How and an Easy to Follow Framework to Ensure Your Child Learns to Write Well at Home“.  

Giveaway Time!

Homeschoolers:  Enter to Win This Essay Writing Course! If you’d like to have the chance to win the Fortuigence Essay Rock Star Expository Essay Writing Course, enter into the Rafflecopter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway


Other Giveaways & Freebies:

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!)

Homeschooling Through Adoption Transition

The following post is written by Sharla of The Chaos and the Clutter:  

homeschooling through adoption

There had been seasons before in our homeschool, seasons of four in diapers, seasons of foster parenting, seasons of stress, seasons of sickness, even seasons of loss. During those seasons, I had adjusted plans accordingly. Sometimes, I had just accepted that we would do less. Other times, we homeschooled through the summer or added Saturday mornings to the schedule to catch up.

I expected this to be no different. We had adopted three times before, though always little ones who had come to us as babies when we were fostering them and transitioned fairly naturally and seamlessly into our family. We had also added more than one at a time before during our eight years as foster parents. It actually wasn’t unusual back then to go from parenting four kids one day to six the next with a few minutes notice. I thought that this time, we should be able to adjust quickly and get back to our normal routine. I expected this adoption transition to be manageable and I thought that we were fairly prepared.

You can see where I’m going with this, right?!

Our adoption of two children from Ethiopia during the crisis of our adoption agency going bankrupt and having to travel to bring them home amidst media scrutiny five months before we had expected to was not something we could have prepared ourselves for.

We had studied about and had experience with attachment issues, but we were not anticipating one of the kids having full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We had plenty of experience with special needs parenting as three of our other kids have special needs, but we did not know that we would be adding a daughter with PTSD, RAD, severe cognitive delays, speech delays, and a previously unknown hearing loss.

We knew that the kids would probably have fungus and parasites and we knew that neither of them would be able to speak or understand any English, but we did not really understand how critically those things would affect our everyday lives.

In short, we did not get back from Ethiopia with our new 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter and get back into the routine of homeschooling. We got back in the summer and I had a hard time adjusting. I just couldn’t bounce back the way I had through other transitions. I was having a hard time just getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. These two new little people needed me so much. My other kids were adjusting too and they needed me more than ever. I didn’t feel equipped.

Before the adoption, the quote “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” had come to be my mission statement or at least my comforting statement during the adoption wait, so I tried to cling to it again, but I was barely hanging on. It really was only through grasping onto God that I could even face each day. I didn’t realize it until much later when I was able to look back on that time, but I think I was suffering from post adoption depression.

It was a dark time. As September loomed, the thought of adding homeschool to my days that already felt overwhelming was enough to make me feel hopeless. I felt that I had no choice though and although I had not done any homeschool planning and although two of my kids still spoke no English, I attempted to homeschool six of my kids that fall. To say that it failed miserably is an understatement!

It took many months of frustration, tears, and unhappy children with an unhappy mom for me to realize that what I was doing wasn’t working. No one was really learning anything. When I was able to see clearly, I threw out the homeschooling and focused instead on creating shared family experiences, fun and fostering attachment. It worked.

Soon, everyone began to relax. I let go of the guilt about what I “should” be doing and instead embraced the reality that letting homeschooling go for that season in our life was what all of my kids needed. It was what I needed.

Did I sometimes still worry that they wouldn’t catch up? Did I wonder if I was failing them? Did I panic about the future at times? Yes.

But I knew that we were exactly where we needed to be. We had followed God’s lead into the adoption and I would have to trust Him and rely on Him for the future.

If you find yourself in a season where homeschooling is impossible, go back to the basics. Love on your kids. Hug them. Praise them. Encourage them. Be with them. Gather them around and read to them. Play with them. Pray with them. Enjoy them.

The rest can wait.


SharlaSharla Kostelyk is the mother of seven, two through the miracle of birth and five through the miracle of adoption. She is a homeschooler, adoption advocate and the founder of Adoption Magazine. Sharla is the author of That These Two Will Live and Shield: A Framework of Self-Care for Foster and Adoptive Families. She blogs about finding joy amidst the chaos at The Chaos and The Clutter