Charlotte Mason, Homeschool Basics

How I Modified an Erin Condren Teacher Planner For Our Homeschool

How I modified an Erin Condren Teacher Planner for our Homeschool

Are you a list maker?  I’m a list maker, which in turn makes paper planning very attractive!  I’ve eyed the Erin Condren Teacher Planners for a while, and finally made the purchase in January.  It’s created with the traditional teacher in mind, ie. public or private school teachers.  But the layout is fantastic, and that’s why I modified my Erin Condren Teacher Planner for our homeschool.

Book List Page in an Erin Condren Planner

I was a little impatient when I bought my planner.  I bought it in January knowing I wasn’t going to use it until August.  So mine was a little outdated. But with the adjustments I made, it works just fine!  Erin Condren has just released the newest Teacher Planner, so you won’t have to worry about that anyway.  If you’ve never purchased from Erin Condren before, you can use this link and save $10 on your first purchase!

Science Planner Page

There were pages for substitute teachers, volunteers, and events that just aren’t appropriate for a homeschool family. I changed those and turned them into something I can use! Like a field trip log, book list, science and nature study outlines, and our recitation list.  I have a few pages I still need a little inspiration with, though.  Maybe I’ll come up with something in the first few weeks of school.  I’m really looking forward to using this planner for our school year!  There is just something special about paper planners that make me feel like I’ve got my life in order!

I made a YouTube video to show how my planner looks now.  There were a lot of things I would have liked to have done differently (like fancy labels to cover up words), but everything I use to make my own stickers is packed up in storage! It’s not perfect, but it’ll work for me!


3 Months

In the 3 months since I last posted, we sold our house, packed all of our belongings into two Pods, moved to a temporary furnished apartment, moved to a new apartment a week later, and a month after that, we moved to a third apartment.

Tanner holding a moth.

Being a military family it’s hard to put down roots anywhere (even the teeny tiny baby roots) because we will be uprooted and moved somewhere else in a few short years.  Even with this in mind, I’m longing to get situated to have a sense of normalcy again.  It’s been a little difficult with our apartment situation but it’s still worth it knowing we don’t have to worry about selling a house last minute.  But the Air Force waiting game is cruel.

Wesley playing goalie

We’ve been blessed to have had my husband home through all of this.  But a blessing to the boys and me isn’t necessarily a blessing to Nick.  He has worked himself to the bone.  He has several major jobs in the squadron, and none of which are actually flying.  He’s a pilot.  It’s frustrating to see how very tired he is.  But on the opposite hand, he is so incredible.  To see how he can be given a broken situation and how he is able to fix it makes me such a proud wife.  He so reliable, diligent, and actually cares about his jobs.  He takes pride in making sure things are done correctly, even if that means long and stressful work days.  Because he has put so much into the squadron, we have faith he will be given an assignment that he wants (and deserves). I’m praying it’s soon.  He needs a break.

The boys in their daddy's office...the KC-135 cockpit

We finished our 2017-2018 school year at the beginning of May.  This school year was a big learning curve for me.  I have a post in the works on how we started the school year and how we ended it.  What we liked and what didn’t work for us.  In a nutshell, we will not be continuing Classical Conversations.  Our 2018-2019 school year is going to be so different.  I have high hopes of a beautiful year full of rich literature, living books for history and geography, and a much closer relationship to my boys.  There are places in my parenting where I feel like I’ve failed and I want to correct that this year.

Wesley building a sail boat.

Until then, we will continue to make the best of temporary apartment living. I miss having a creative outlet (jewelry and Etsy) so I’m holding myself accountable for keeping up with my blog this year!  That, and leather crafting…but that’s a different topic for another day.

Tanner jumping into the pool

Charlotte Mason, Daily

Selling our house! On to a new adventure.

What a blur.  Over the holidays my husband and I discussed putting our house on the market sometime this spring/summer.  We don’t have orders to move yet, but we are expecting them sometime this year.  Since the housing market in this area is doing fairly well, we figured we would sell the house and move into temporary living, or on base until time to move for real.  Our realtor, who is extremely knowledgable and trustworthy told us (in the second week of February) how the interest rates were starting to rise and if we were going to list our house, we should do it sooner rather than later.  We agreed.  So for 2 weeks, we were preparing our house for pictures and showings.  I may write a post of a few things that we did to make this process a little easier, at least, in our opinion.

Thankfully, being a part of the military we move fairly often, so we don’t really accumulate too much stuff.  But we did make many trips to donation centers and to the dump.  I was balancing keeping our house as spotless as possible, preparing lessons, doing schoolwork, and trying to study to learn more about the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling.  It has been somewhat stressful and stress reducing at the same time.  I absolutely love having no clutter in the house and clean counters!  But it’s hard keeping it that way with two young kids and two dogs…one being a puppy…who loves mud.

Anyway, we may not need to worry about that too much more.  Our house was listed on March 2, and only 5 days later we were under contract.  If all goes well with the appraisal and the inspection, we will be closing on April 6th!

Now, here comes the tricky part.  We are planning on putting our stuff in storage and renting a furnished apartment closer to base until we get orders to move or are offered a house on base.  I highly doubt we will be offered a house as there are only 20 for our rank range and we are #13 on that list as of today.  But we could potentially receive orders anytime.  It’s all so uncertain.  So we need to try to plan what things we need to keep with us in the apartment in case we don’t move anytime soon.  All I can think about is “SCHOOL SCHOOL SCHOOL”!  I’d love to implement a Charlotte Mason school year, but I feel like I still have tons of learning to do.  It’s much more than just buying a boxed curriculum set.  I also need to figure out how to create a portfolio for the state once we finish this school year.  Can you believe we only have 11 weeks left! It’s been an incredible (technically) first year for us.  I’ve learned a lot about what works for us, and what doesn’t.  And I’m excited to make some changes for next year.


2018- New Year, New Blog

Hello! I’ve been a lousy blogger, I know.  That will happen when you decide you want your homeschool to move into a totally different direction…during the holidays.  I’m sorry!

I’ve changed the blog’s look and overall theme a bit, new year new blog! I started out wanting to share how I’m learning and figuring out this whole homeschooling thing.  But let’s be honest.  That’s boring.  And one of the main reasons why I haven’t blogged much.  This will be changing a bit though, as I am still researching and learning about Charlotte Mason and her fabulous philosophy of education.  But there will be a LOT of changes this year.  I want to share it all.  So I’m changing this blog from a boring, homeschool learning type of blog to a more personal “homeschool mom” blog.  I’m not going to make things all snazzy, or worry about Pinterest worthy images.  I want this to become a blog where I can share our life.  Our 5 year plan is pretty awesome and I think it will be really fun to share that journey.

So, what are some things you’ll see here on The Boundless Homeschool?

  • I will continue sharing our homeschool days, what’s working for us and what’s not! It will be largely transformed from “traditional school” to more Charlotte Mason.  I know that’s probably completely foreign to many people, but give me time. I’ll explain it! I’ll be taking more pictures so I can keep track of things we are doing (and adding pictures to our portfolio for the state).
  • We will be, most likely, moving this year.  I’ll share our schooling-on-the-road journey, and everything else that’s involved with moving.
  • I am trying to learn how to be a bit more self-sustainable, for future goals–Garden stuff (after moving), finding awesome recipes for homemade everything, or any other tips I can share, I’ll do that, too.

Things get tough around here with constant deployments.  I’m not going to sugar coat anything if I am having a bad day/week/month.  Sugar coating, or “putting on a brave face” is so exhausting. Sometimes it’s nice to find someone to commiserate with.  Being transparent and truthful with our days could really be helpful to someone out there who thinks they have to have it all together.  Psst, you don’t!

Ok, that’s probably it, for now.  It feels good to write again.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason

We are almost halfway through the school year.  I had hoped I would have blogged more, but in reality, there isn’t much to talk about.  We’ve sort of fallen into a monotonous school day routine.  And to be 100% honest, I don’t like it.  There is something missing in our homeschool.  I think I know what it is, but I’m trying to do a bit more research, to be sure.

We are still doing Classical Conversations, and while I won’t make a full review on it until the school year is over, I can say we will not be continuing with CC next year (for more than a few reasons).  I do enjoy the thought of a Classical education, but our homeschool needs something more.  I feel pulled to research and read more about Charlotte Mason. I’m still learning, so bear with me on trying to explain. Miss Mason’s education philosophy is somewhat similar to a Classical education, but it is much more literature and nature filled. She also highly recommends you give your children time to play.  Inside play, and most definitely, outside play.  She focuses on how “children are born persons” and that treating them any less than that can be a detriment to their educational journey.  I am reading For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer-Macaulay (a staple in any Charlotte Mason household) and I am working my way through a Charlotte Mason Course with actual assignments.  It feels so weird to be doing school work like this again after almost 8 years out of college, but it’s actually really motivating.  Once I am finished with For the Children’s Sake I will begin reading Charlotte Mason’s first (of 6) books in her education series.  I am also working my way through the A Delectable Education podcasts while I’m working on my Etsy orders.

So, in a nutshell, I don’t like how our homeschool is going.  I want more imagination through play and great books, more hands on experiments, and more outside exploring and getting dirty.  I hope this will make our school days look and feel different.


Don’t let anxiety steal your joy!

Anxiety-a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

That’s the dictionary definition of the word.  But for those who suffer with anxiety (of all kinds) know it’s much more than that.  There doesn’t have to be an event, or something with an uncertain outcome.  It could come out of the blue, for seemingly no reason at all.

I’ve had anxiety since around 5th grade.  When I had my first experience with bullying and a betrayal, of who I thought, was my best friend.  I don’t know what I did wrong, if anything at all.  I look back on it now and know kids that age are just mean, and dealing with issues themselves.  But ever since, I’ve struggled with my self-esteem and self confidence.

I am very much a homebody, and I typically call myself an extroverted introvert.  Once I gain a group of friends, that typically push me out of my comfort zone, I have the best of times (this can be hard to come by though, being a military family).  Even though I know I’ll enjoy spending time with them, my mind still tells me that I’m much more comfortable staying home.

I am trying my hardest not to impose this on my children.  They are very social and enjoy being with people.

With all that said, I bring you to today.

The day started out stressful, as many often do during a deployment.  I didn’t sleep well the night before, so when morning came around, I was rushing around and tired.  That’s the perfect time for satan to sneak into my mind where I lose patience and my temper.  I had an issue with USPS and a customer order from my Etsy shop.  I know exactly what happened; my mail carrier scanned the package as delivered instead of picked up, so tracking information was dropped. I am thinking the package will still get to my customer, but I called USPS anyway.  Trying to get a hold of an actual person on the phone is unheard of anymore. At the beginning of the phone call they say there will be a short survey at the end for quality assessment purposes.  I would have loved to give them a little bit of my mind in that survey, but I couldn’t get to the end of the call to do it.  Frustration, annoyance, temper.  I think I hung up and called back 4 times. Anyway…

During the same time as I was on the phone, the boys were loud and excited.  You see, I had planned on taking them to the Pumpkin Festival about an hour south of us.  I had asked them to get their socks on so we could get ready to leave.  Tanner was wandering around the house like he never heard a word I said.  Wesley lost his socks, then found them, and then lost them again in a span of 5 minutes.  I grabbed an easy cereal and breakfast bars for them to eat in the car on the way to the festival.  We were running 10 minutes late.

Surprise!  I needed to get gas.  Running 20 minutes late.

We were finally on the road, and my mind was screaming at me to just go home. That this must be a sign as to how the rest of the day would go. Why deal with all of this when it would just be easier to stay home in my comfort zone.  It’s hard to do things like this when it’s just me.  But, after the CC timeline song ended (because Wesley just HAS to listen to it every single time we are in the car), I turned on the local Christian radio station.  Song after song spoke to me.  It was the strangest feeling.  For the rest of the drive I could feel this heavy weight being lifted off my chest.

Why did I allow myself to feel this way?  We really were only a little bit late.  I was meeting friends there.  Friends who would TOTALLY understand if I was late.  They didn’t care.  Only my mind did.  This wasn’t a torture sentence.  This was supposed to be a FUN day!  How skewed our minds can make things.

It ended up being an amazing day.  We spent some time with our friends, and I spoiled the boys rotten (this was their daddy’s treat, even though he couldn’t be there with us). I got to see joy on the boy’s faces over, and over, and over. Even with the smallest of things, like catching butterflies and studying their features and colors.  The boys could have stayed in that spot the whole time. We spent 4 hours at the festival in the 90+ degree temperatures and humidity, and truly had the best time.  If I had caved and listened to my mind telling me what the easiest option would have been, I would have missed out on so much.  Today, I chose joy.  Thank the Lord.

I want to step out of my comfort zone more often.  I think I’m going to give it a go.


Homeschooling with a Preschooler and an Update

First, I’d like to write a little update.

I’ve been wanting to post more things in this blog, but not everything was homeschool related.  And I felt like maybe it would be a little too off topic.  You see, I’ve had blogs for years.  I started my very first one right before we decided to have children.  Then, I redid the blog to allow for baby bump updates, birth stories, and the documentation of our early married years.  I loved that blog so much.  But I decided to make it private because I started it before I was truly aware of the dangers of social media.  There was just too much personal information on it, and I didn’t feel comfortable having all of that out in the open.

I look back on that blog occasionally and I am still so happy I documented those things.  I’d like to bring that back into this blog.  This blog will still be very much a homeschooling blog, because let’s face it, that is most of my life at the moment, ha! My husband and I have some really awesome dreams for our future, that will really build on our children’s homeschool journey.  In the meantime we have a lot of researching and studying to do. I’d like to document that as well.  There is so much more to our lives than just figuring out homeschooling.

And on that note,

Our schooling has started to morph into more productive days now that we are a couple months into it.  My focus is still more on Tanner’s school work as he is in Kindergarten, and my goal for Wesley’s preschool is to be play based.  But with a preschooler, who is very excited about school, it can be difficult to divide my attention sometimes.  I’ve implemented a few, somewhat independent, activities for him to do while I focus on the core subjects with Tanner.  I will quickly share a few of those in this post.

“ABC Find it”

I printed a few of these ABC Find it pages when Tanner was doing preschool work 2 or 3 years ago.  He didn’t really care for it too much, but I decided to keep them around for Wesley.  I’m glad I did.  It makes for great independent time for him!  I laminated everything to make it a bit more durable.  I stick the cut out squares in some sensory stuff like dry rice or beans, and he has to dig through to find them.  Then he puts the pieces on the matching answer sheet.  This gives Tanner and I at least 5-10 minutes to work together.

Learning with Manipulatives

Manipulatives are a favorite in this house.  Scrabble tiles, character erasers, geometric blocks, math counting manipulatives, and even candy are some of the manipulatives we use weekly.  The first two pictures are activities I created pretty quickly.  We were working on the letter A, so I made an A out of squares, and wrote numbers 1-3 on the squares.  Wesley used our unifix cubes to match the color to the number, and created an A out of the blocks.  I also wrote out a few words that begin with the letter A, and he used his scrabble soup game pieces to match the tile to the letter on the paper.

A part of Wesley’s curriculum, Reading the Alphabet (which is now offered for free!), has these little games with finding numbers from 1-10 and 11-20, and 1-6 for dice matching.  Sometimes we use candy as manipulatives, especially this time of year!  Makes for a delicious reward once the activity is over!

Free Play

Free play with somewhat educational games has got to be the best way to keep Wesley distracted so Tanner and I can work on school work. This past week was a week full of play with these Learning Resources Geometric blocks.  I love seeing his creativity and imagination bloom. We also use our Spielgaben set often, but I’ll write a different post on that.

Creative Work and Crafting

This is still fairly new to me because Tanner never enjoyed doing crafts until the past few months.  I, being extremely crafty to a fault, love that they both are starting to enjoy this!  And it frees up quite a bit of time for me to either lesson plan, clean up school supplies, or craft with them!

I hope this post can help you with some ideas to help homeschool an older child and a preschooler, at the same time!

Daily, Homeschool Basics

First month of school 2017-2018: Homeschool Kindergarten and Preschool

It has been terribly difficult to find a routine this month.  Between *still* adjusting to another deployment, trying to get my Etsy shop back up and running, starting Classical Conversations and gymnastics, and last minute hurricane evacuation, we are really just taking it a few days at a time.  I do have to admit it has been so wonderful being back in NC for a while.  I miss this beautiful fall weather.  Florida beaches and winters are nice, but it’s not home.  There is just something about a beautiful 65 degree day out at the park with two boys; collecting leaves, rocks, and bugs.

August and September 2017

The boys have done very well with the start of the school year.  I thought Tanner would really love the memory work and songs associated with CC.  He does, but not nearly as much as Wesley has taken to it.  It’s so neat to see a little 3 year old skip counting 3s and 4s, and singing about the Pilgrims.  I think his favorite is the Timeline song and sign language that goes along with it.

The boys start their school days with their daily notebook (I plan to make a download for anyone interested in that), and their memory work.  We sing the Timeline song a few times, and sing the history and math memory work.  We then go over the other CC subjects.  I have various activities that go along with those.  Some art activities, notebook pages, and puzzles are a few things we add in each day.

Once the dual school work is done Tanner will usually start his math while I start Wesley’s reading (fun) curriculum.  I’m not pushing anything on Wesley, especially the sight words that are used in this curriculum.  I don’t really like the idea of teaching sight words.  I just used this mostly as something fun for him to do, and practice counting, writing letters, and learning about books.  It’s the same thing I used with Tanner two years ago.

While Wesley is doing something that’s slightly more independent, or if he’s done with his work, I’ll go over Tanner’s math and/or help him with his math, and then we go over his Logic of English lesson.  He will do some of his science and poetry notebook pages during this time as well. Once a week he writes a “thankful for” page. It’s mostly for handwriting practice.  He will pick three things he is thankful for that day or week.  I’ll write them down on the board and he copies them down on his paper.

The next few months I hope to start adding in a bit more life skills for both boys.  Things like laundry, baking, helping with lunch or dinner prep, gardening, and chores.  I also hope to really dig deeper into our devotionals during breakfast time and I want to add more read aloud time in, as well.

Having two kids doing school work at the same time is definitely a struggle more times than not.  But we are just getting started.  I know I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I think the longer we stick with it, we’ll find what works for our family.

Homeschool Basics

First Day of School – Kindergarten and Preschool

It has been 2.5 months since I’ve blogged.  I didn’t mean to take such a long break, but with it being summer, I didn’t really have a whole lot to talk about dealing with school.  I have considered writing more about our life and school, but haven’t decided yet.

It’s been a difficult and a bit overwhelming few weeks, but I was able to gather, plan, and clean to prepare for the first day of homeschool. It went well, but there is going to be a major learning curve, on my part, when it comes to teaching two kids different material, at the same time.  Especially when I have one who want my full attention.

We started out with the pledge and our morning binders that I created.  They both have the same pages so we were able to work on that together. We then moved on to Tanner’s math worksheets and Wesley’s preschool Reading the Alphabet curriculum.  Tanner needs a little more time to learn how to do work more independently (since he’s always had my undivided attention with school), but it was really great to see him work diligently on his math while I worked with Wesley.  When he completed math, I gave him some cutting practice worksheets that he loved.  It kept him occupied while I finished with Wesley’s work.  Once that was done I had Wesley go play while I focused on Tanner’s Language Arts/reading.

School Day Poem

All in all, it was a good start to the school year.  I have a lot to learn, still.  Especially once CC starts up next week!




{Free Printable} Beginning Sounds Matching Game

Beginning Sounds Matching Title Page

Learning letter sounds is a popular activity in our house these days.  I’m in no rush for Wesley to read, but he is wanting to learn more.  He points to various words he sees throughout the day and pretends to read them.  So I’ve been slowly teaching him his letter sounds, because once again, I’m in no rush.

Beginning Sounds Matching picture to letter

We’ve started playing more board games in the past few months and the boys seem to like the matching games quite a bit.  I decided to make some image cards with matching letters so we could play the matching game while learning.  It’s a bit much for Wesley right now, so we break up the game into smaller batches at a time.

Beginning Sounds Matching pictures to letters

They don’t even have to play the matching game.  They can just place the letter on top of the matching image, like we did in all of these pictures.

Beginning Sounds Matching Pictures

Beginning Sounds Matching

In this download, I have the letter tiles, image tiles, and image tiles with corresponding capital letters, in case you have a learner working on matching lower case and upper case.  I imagine we will be working on letter sounds for a while to come, so be on the look out for more printables!

Click Here to Download Printable