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Schooling Year Round: Summer School

Did you wrap up your school year this week? I know many have and while we are so close, we still have a good week to finish up some of the basics I had planned for the academic school year. (My high school boys had their last day of school today, however!)

Even though we homeschool year round, I try to have our basics wrapped up by the end of May so we can have an easy, fun summer of learning. But this year, I'm adding in a few basics like writing and grammar.

One of the things I love about homeschooling year round is that it takes a little of the pressure off during the school year. We are involved in sports and activities outside of the home and with shorter days, we have less time in the day to get things done, but I also have less energy from lack of sunshine. While I love the sunshine and the boost of energy it gives me in the summer, too much sun will drain my energy, so on those hot days that we aren't playing in the water or eating frozen watermelon popsicles, we'll be inside cooling off by the window air conditioner doing school.

Plus, some learning is just better suited to warmer weather. Summer is the perfect time for nature walks, studying insects, and growing things!

Plus (another one), I'll go crazy if I don't do some formal learning. If we school for 2 hours a day, there will still be plenty of daylight hours for other work and play, and we won't be schooling every day - maybe 3 days a week.

What we have planned this summer:

  • Spelling: All About Spelling 4 finished!
  • Science: Exploring Creation With Botany 

With All About Reading Level 4 (link to my review) being the last level in the reading program, we were anxious to finish so we took some time off of spelling to finish reading. Malachi soared through Level 4 and is now reading at an adult level, which means he can decode any word he comes across (yay!). His confidence is sky high and I'm so pleased to have him graduate All About Reading. He's now completed levels 1 through 4 and I couldn't be happier with the results!

With reading all done for the year, we've moved on to finish up All About Spelling 4. We picked back up with Lesson 6 a few short weeks ago, and we finished Lesson 14 this week. Spelling comes easy and natural to him now, so lessons are quick. We'll wrap this up by the end of June.

We are back to working on Write Shop Junior D and this week Malachi wrote a Science Fiction story. Sci Fi is not his favorite genre so he is excited to move on to learn how to write a Mystery! And I'm on the look out for a cute detective hat!

Despite how much I like Write Shop Junior, I'm feeling the need to provide both Malachi and Eliana more grade level English (in addition to our normal reading, spelling, and dictation). It might be because English is scheduled in Bigger Hearts, but it might also be the sudden realization that Malachi is going to be a 5th grader - that's only one year away from Middle School. So, I ordered BJU English 4 Writing and Grammar to work on over the summer to make sure we covered 4th grade well enough.

Excited to do Botany! I have their notebooks printed, they've designed their cover pages, and I just need to have the books spiral bound. Since we will be following the 10 week schedule, I did not want to be pressured to do every notebooking activity or mini book, so I opted not to buy the Journals. I used the original notebooking pages with my older boys in 2007, and we enjoy looking back at them. I even notebooked alongside my older boys so it is fun to show the kids the pages I did. :)

  • Science: Exploring Creation With Botany (to tie into One Small Square Woods from Bigger Hearts for His Glory)

Still deciding if we will do: (decided we will break from History for the summer)
*I bought this book new from the Scholatic Teacher's Store for $4.86. Don't buy this one on Amazon. 

Links to Amazon are affiliate links that I think are worth it.

We are currently doing read-alouds on early colonial life before moving on to Benjamin Franklin, but with all the learning I have planned for Bo, I might take a break from History this summer and focus on Science.

I've also ordered BJU English 2 for Eliana and she is 6 reading and 3 spelling lessons away from finishing All About Reading and Spelling 2.

She finished her Math Lessons 2 a couple months ago and has moved on to Math Lessons 3. She is on Lesson 12 (Week 12) and we will continue math this summer but at a much more relaxed pace.


Bo and I are still working through Before Five in a Row. Here are the books and units I currently have planned for this summer: (all done!)

I was still deciding if we will row Ask Mr. Bear, Prayer for a Child, and If Jesus Came to My House, but after typing all this out, I think these can wait until fall. :)

The ABC Bunny will be a celebration of finishing uppercase letters in All About Reading Pre-reading. I could tell Bo was ready for a break from ABCs, so I thought that would be a great place to stop and suggested an ABC party to celebrate! I have some plans up my sleeve that I hope will start us off to a great summer of delightful learning.

Don't worry, plenty of water play, playing in the dirt, walks to the park, popsicles, lemonade, summer camp, camping, smores, and more await us this summer.

Bo will play Itty Bitty Soccer, Elli will do Theatre camp, soccer camp, and basketball camp, and Malachi will do Challenger Soccer camp, and Y Soccer camp. I'm hoping to have them do swimming lessons, too (as we do yearly). Bo will continue Speech Therapy once a week. My teen boys will work, play on a summer soccer league, and hang out with their friends. Jordan is working full time for 4 college credits, leading the mowing crew at the Y, and then staffing at our church youth camp this summer.

Luke and I will be getting away with the three younger kids for a week long vacation at a condo in a small resort town to celebrate our 12th anniversary, and we are planning to take the whole family to Yellowstone Park (since its in our backyard and we've yet to take them!).

As for me, I'm hoping to sew my first Five in a Row quilt, buy a pair of shoes I can walk in, buy a Fit-Bit and get in 10,000 steps a day, do a Proverbs Bible Study, and read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I'm feeling energetic! :) Let's hope!

With all the rain we've have lately, I'm excited for sunshine, warmer weather and SUMMER. How about you?

10 Ideas for Summer Fun {Guest Post}

I have a special guest post for you today from a beautiful friend and sister in Christ, Theresa. She is a local friend who blogs from her heart at Heavenly Glimpses. I am always inspired by her writings, so when I asked her if she'd write a guest post for my blog, I was thrilled that she was willing to let me share her ideas for summer fun! I enjoy getting together with her and her children in the summer for ice cream and visits in the park and look forward to warm sunny weather to do just that!


We have the freezer stocked with frozen treats, books out, prize box filled, and just days left until summer vacation! We’re planning lots of downtime, but even constant downtime needs a plan. Otherwise, everyone can go a little batty very quickly!

Here are ten ideas for your summer down time:

1. Plan a Service Project: 

Kick off the summer with a group service project: One year we invited friends over and partnered with Craft Hope in making bracelets for orphanages in Russia.

You may also choose a local recipient. The following year we made suncatchers and visited the elderly in a local nursing home.

2. Go Camping:

Camping is a must in Wyoming, along with other trips you may have planned. But even if you’re in a season of life where camping is not possible, pitch a tent in your backyard.

3. Create Your Own Summer Reading Program:

We'll read all summer long, but will have a special three week incentive program. I got the idea for it last year here. Our kids love this porgram because they get to pick a prize every day. But also because they really do get immersed in the reading they/we do. If a prize a day doesn’t work for you, stretch it out over the summer, tallying up points to cash in. The ideas are endless!

4. Implement Scripture Memorization:

I've chosen the first section of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, for the children to memorize over the summer. How far they get will be determined by each one's age. If it helps, incentives for this might be a ticket for a date with mom, a date with dad, invite a friend over to play, etc. That way we're working in that quality time that we desire to make time for, too!

5. Do a Nature Study: 

Learn about trees and flowers, bugs and birds all around your neighborhood and community. I found this great resource for doing a nature study here.

6. Conduct a Science Experiment:

Summer is a great time to pull out a science book and get a little messy. Make it a weekly adventure!

7. Coordinate Neighborhood Games:

Remember how we used to do that, as kids? If there are other families with children in your neighborhood, invite friends over to play a little soccer or kickball! If not, invite friends to a park for a ball game.

8. Keep Math Fresh:

Rather than children forgetting so much of what they’ve learned this year over summer break, keep it fresh and fun with some math games (or games of any subject, for that matter).

9. Plan Plenty of Water Fun:

Summer gets busy and flies by, so if you can’t get to the pool often enough, turn on the sprinkler in your backyard or have a water fight!

10. Start a Lemonade Stand:

Allow your children to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills by learning the value of the dollar, not to mention, their communication and leadership skills!

I like to take advantage of time together over the summer so we try to keep individual activities to a minimum. I love to see the relationships of my children grow and imaginations soar when they have books to stimulate their imagination and time for uninterrupted play–to act out all of their new adventures.

Summer time around here is a time of relaxation and fun with a little structure to keep everyone in the know as to what to expect, as the days can run into each other easily and quickly without a plan.

We hope to fit in plenty of reading, exploration, playing in our backyard, parks with friends, tennis with grandpa, and getting wet with cousins A LOT!

I am a believer in making a plan and then working it out flexibly. So go jot down some ideas and have a great summer!


Check out these great sites for more fun ideas for your summer:

67 Ideas For Fun and Learning This Summer 
Summer Bucket List and Free Printables
Summer Activities For Kids

...Encouraging Moms of Today's Generation.

I believe God gives us tiny glimpses of heaven everyday, particularly within the context of our marriage and, if so blessed, our children. Although this earthly road we travel may prove difficult, when we persevere with eyes on Christ, he is faithful to shower our hearts with heavenly glimpses. (Learn more about Theresa here.)

Birds of a Feather - A "Once-A-Week" Unit Study Review

Affiliate links are used in this post.
Homeschool Legacy Review

"Once-a-Week" unit studies by Homeschool Legacy are unique in that they are designed to be used once-a-week. The units can be easily added into your regular curriculum by setting aside one day per week as your "unit study day" to complete the activities. Throughout the week, you complete small "daily activities" such as a Family Read-aloud, Independent Reading, a family movie night, or an extended activity like a field trip.  The main hands-on activities are designed to be completed once-a-week, but you can also spread the activities out over the week.

The idea of a "once-a-week" unit study that requires no prep appealed to me, and when I saw that we would be reading John Audubon: Young Naturalist in our regular curriculum, I was excited to review Birds of a Feather to kill two birds with one stone! :)

Bigger Science Nature Study with John Audubon: Young Naturalist {Units 10-14}

True to my nature (easily bored by routine and wanting a little excitement), I was excited to review a unit study on birds to tie into Bigger Hearts for His Glory science Units 10-14. :) 

Affiliate Links are used in this post. 

When I follow a guide as written, I enjoy it for the most part, but a little part of my heart was longing for change and I saw no reason why I couldn't jump ahead to read John Audubon: Young Naturalist and tie in a unit study on birds! In fact, it wasn't until I saw that Homeschool Legacy had a unit study that would tie in with Bigger Science that I was even interested in doing a unit study at all (still on burn out mode from Five in a Row). For me, this might be the best of both worlds since I have a hard time sticking with one or the other all by themselves. In fact, I am even inspired to row a Five in a Row book now. :) 

I'm optimistic that I can settle into a boxed curriculum routine and add a little spark of joy to our homeschool days by adding in some fun unit studies along the way. :) 

Books/resources used for our study along with Birds of a Feather.


  • investigated how birds fly

  • practiced standing like a stork :) 
  • learned the different types of feathers and their purposes and drew a picture of a body feather, down feather, and flight feather for our notebooks

  • explored what a Wood Thrush looks and sounds like and sketched a picture of one for our notebooks

  • learned how sparrows build their nest and made edible nests with peanut butter, honey, and crispy rice cereal (Unit 11 day 5).

  • completed Week 1 of Homeschool Legacy's Birds of a Feather Unit Study, created a backyard habitat for birds, made homemade bird feeders, and more. 

  • drew the different types of bird beaks for our notebooks

  • learned about the food chain and how it balances life

  • completed Week 4 of Homeschool Legacy's Birds of a Feather Unit Study on owls
  • learned that owls have special adaptations that help them hunt and survive
  • drew an owl for our notebook

  • learned how snakes move and catch their prey

  • learned about Cuckoos 
  • drew pictures for our Fact Page on Jean Jacques Audubon

  • explored the eyesight of an eagle and discovered how far an eagle can see
  • learned more about birds of prey in Week 4 of Homeschool Legacy's Birds of a Feather Unit Study
  • discovered more amazing facts about birds
  • and fell in love with birds all over again!
Malachi has taken off on his own during this study. He loves birds and nature in general and has been watching lots of documentaries on Netflix. He carries the field guide in his "survival" backpack wherever he goes and loves to go on nature walks. I think continuing our study in Flying Creatures of the 5th Day, doing Lesson 5: Nest Building, and rowing Albert would be a fun continuation of our study!

S if for Smiling Sunrise {Book Review}

Smiling Sunrise Review
I'm happy to share my review of S is for Smiling Sunrise, An Alphabet Book of Goodness, Beauty and Wonder, with you today.

Published by WordsBright, this sing-along rhyme book is an alphabet book that focuses on teaching the letters of the alphabet through meaningful concepts.

Bigger Learning Moments {Unit 7}

Welcome to our learning moments for Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 7! 

I can't call them weeks anymore since we are on Week 8 now of what was supposed to be a new school year (more on that below). 

While I wasn't excited to blog our week this week (or last for that matter), I still want to have a record of what we are doing and came up with a brilliant idea this week - Project Life! 

First let me back up and thank Tara for the encouragement to buy the Project Life app. When it went on sale for $0.99, I was willing to at least buy it (but not use it yet). See, I've been wanting to get into Digital Project Life for some time now, thanks to the encouragement of another dear friend, Amber. Digital is hard for me (non techie) and while I WILL learn it one day soon (probably when I stop blogging!), I was inspired when my friend Susana started texting me about the Project Life app! She sent me a link to her finished pages and told me how easy it was, and before the week was over I made these pages!!! 

Page #1

Page #2

It was so easy and fun! I am using the Strawberry Edition.

And you can have your own handwriting font created, too! I want to have a font created with HER handwriting! How cool would that be?! Her little 8 year old handwriting on her school pages! And for only $25!

This week was focused on what was most important. Some hands-on activities were skipped due to low energy and lack of supplies (namely clay for the science demonstration). Eliana filled out the Science Exploration sheet for the fossil impression activity, I did the lesson, and I intended to buy clay but kept forgetting. She reminded me again this week, so I must remember to get some next time I am out. She loves the hands-on, and so do I usually, but lately I am feeling overwhelmed by them because of the time and energy they take (in other words, it is harder to catch up if we fall behind a day, as we did this week).

Which leads me to why I may or may not consider this the start of a new school year (or what was 7 weeks into it). . . sigh. I'm ready for a summer break. If I finish strong until we complete reading and spelling (she already finished her math for 2nd grade), then I can call it a wrap on 2nd grade and pick up Bigger in the Fall to start 3rd grade. I was originally planning to push full steam through the summer so we can take a longer fall and winter break and start 3rd grade when we finish Bigger. But then I see so many people who use Bigger for 3rd grade, so maybe I shouldn't push her through it?

Bigger Learning Moments {Units 5 & 6}

In Bigger Hearts for His Glory, Week 5, we read about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower voyage, Squanto, and Captain Standish. 

My camera is on the blitz, so I'm not taking the greatest pictures. Here are a few that I grabbed this week:

Art - Sand Painting with colored salt

Her finished picture (taken after it was dry). 

Bo making a picture too.

Plugging along nicely in All About Reading Level 2. I love when we get into a good rhythm! Once we do, lessons flow so smoothly and easily. 

Geography Activity - Day 2 
Learning about hemispheres. 

Vocabulary - Day 3

Science Exploration - Day 3

Elli and Bo learned how soap helps prevent the spread of germs and disease. Their hands are covered in lotion and glitter and they had to try to wash it off first with cold water, then warm water, then soap and warm water. This was a powerful lesson for Bo especially!

Learning about imagery in poetry. 

Science Exploration - Day 5 "How can sailors use the North Star to guide them as they sail?

Math Lessons - one lesson daily M-TH
Company (and a waffle with Nutella on it) makes math more fun. :) 

Notebooking the Mayflower voyage - Day 5

In Week 6, we read about William Penn and his Quaker life, the founding of the Pennsylvania colony, and the Quaker painter Benjamin West.

Harvesting "corn" in All About Reading

The kids have been dragging out our Draw Write Now books lately (Amazon affiliate link). These books are almost 10 years old and now well loved by the younger kids). 

Notebook pages for History and Vocabulary

and Poetry

Learning about how our body fights off infection in Science. 

For our Storytime "adventure" story, we read Island of the Blue Dolphins (Amazon affiliate link). I'm not good about pacing at all - we finished this in one week!

I'm also feeling like something is missing... and this is what I think it might be: I miss our read-alouds tying into our history like they do with Sonlight. The Teacher's Guide recommends that we choose a book based on the current Storytime theme - there are suggestions, but they don't tie into the History we are learning - I miss that!

Malachi is down to just one subject on the computer - Veritas Press American History. He is back into All About Reading 4 full swing and we are doing two lessons a day. I plan to pick up Level 4 Spelling when we finish AAR. He has also been doing Math Lessons for a Living Education Book 4 instead of Teaching Textbooks 5. I decided to take a step forward by taking a step back. I think Math Lessons is a more thorough program and MLLE Book 4 covers stuff not taught yet in TT5. MLLE 4 will also {hopefully} help him get those stubborn multiplication facts down! For those wondering what we will do after Book 5, I will probably start Malachi at Life of Fred Fractions. (He has already completed LOF Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, Goldfish, Honey and part of Ice Cream. It was in Ice Cream that I realized Malachi didn't do the Honey cards from Honey and I felt like the worse homeschool mom ever - I never checked his work - just made sure he was doing it and checking it himself, and missed the part about the Honey cards (to help him memorize math facts), hence why I made the decision to go with Teaching Textbooks (everything is done for me). Sigh. I'm checking his work DAILY now.  

And I'm sooo excited because Book 1 is now available! I'm printing it soon for Bo, but probably won't start until Fall. With nicer weather here, I don't think he'll want to do much school. 

Before these two weeks, we took a one week spring break, and jumped ahead to do Bigger science weeks 10-14, to cover John Audubon while we did "Birds of a Feather," a unit study we are reviewing for the Crew for Homeschool Legacy. We wrapped up this study during these two weeks of school. 

In my life...

I have 2013 in an album up to fall and am down to one stack of photos. 

I put all the photos in the album first, then I add the Project Life cards, then I journal. 

I haven't felt like working on it much, but really want to get that last stack of photos in! Looking at 2014, I have half the amount of pictures and about an equal amount of family life vs. Tot School with Bo photos. I might be able to get '14 and '15 in one album and that hasn't happened since I started Project Life!
Thanks for letting me share!