Thursday, August 24, 2017

Family Chore system (a REVIEW)

Everyday Homemaking

I have thought about implementing a chore system for years, but never really got around to figuring it out. I always just end up assigning random chores, or find other random methods I read about and hope to start implementing, but they're too complicated. I've really just needed a simple way to communicate what I need done each day to my children. That's where The Everyday Family Chore System by Vicki Bentley from Everyday Homemaking comes in. When this review came up I happened to already own a copy of her old version cookbook (the new version is being reviewed by the crew right now too), and loved how simple it was, so I thought I should definitely see what her chore system is about too. I was excited to learn that it is just as simple and straightforward as her cookbook.

The Everyday FAMILY Chore System

I received an e-book version of the Chore System, and chose to print it up, so I could have a hard copy. I quickly read through it in just a day to get the full idea of what she was talking about, but will probably go back through to highlight things I need to remember. It is super easy to follow. Basically there are three parts to this book: Part one--laying the foundation, Part two--Implementing the plan, and Part three--the actual chore system. It really is short and sweet and to the point.

Part One: Talks about the why's. Why is training children so important? Why should we bother when we can get it done faster? What can we expect of our children? What are the age appropriate expectations?


Part Two: This is where I started really getting some great ideas. She talks specifically about ways to delegate/assign specific chores including daily and weekly tasks. She provides a very nice checklist of life skills and the ages they should be learned. This is also where the suggestions for the actual "set-up" of the chore system are laid out. I chose to follow her first suggestion pretty closely and made a pretty little board for the clips.

Part Three: This is where the printables are. This is where the actual "system" is laid out ready to print, cut, and use in your way. Included in this section are How-To-Do-It cards, and Job labels. The how cards contain specific instructions for many common household jobs so that the children can know exactly what needs to be done.

As I was reading I realized how simple it could be to just make a board for our chore assignments. I originally set out to make it with a matboard (as Vicki suggested), but I couldn't find anything that would be sturdy enough at a local store, so I picked up this black chalkboard sign instead.


In the book she suggests writing the names on the board so that chores can be clipped next to each name. I wrote the names on my board with a paint pen because the chalk didn't show up on this board real well. I also cut and laminated all the job cards.


The end result.. A nice board with our family chores. This turned out to be a fun little project. I have it hanging in the kitchen where it is easy to see, and remind us all what the children are supposed to be doing. I haven't decided how often I want to rotate these chores. I really like the idea of keeping certain jobs for a month. I still have some tweaking to do with this system, but that's the beauty and simplicity of this book. You can follow her suggestions, but still do your own thing. She has so many great ideas and jumping off points to get you going. I found it very inspiring.


Want to give this book a try with a little discount? Now through labor day (September 5, 2017) you can receive 10% off. Just use the code TOS10books after you have added your book(s) to the cart.

I really found this book to be useful and inspiring. The cookbook is great too. If you want to go read some reviews of the cookbook as well as more reviews about the chore system you can click on the banner below.

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Veritas Press: Phonics Museum (A reveiw)

Veritas Press

I've tried a lot of reading/phonics programs through teaching four kids to read. The ones that always stick the best are the ones with videos or games. When I was given the opportunity to try the Phonics Museum App from Veritas Press I wasn't sure my 6 year-old really needed it because he's already reading most words, but what I realized is that he needed more of the actual phonics practice because he isn't sounding things out real well. This program helped him to listen to the sounds better.

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

What is this?

It's an app available from itunes App store. It is designed to work on both iphone or ipad. I was able to put it on both, and it would keep it updated where he left off, but we had to log out and log back in to find his place.

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

How does it work?

After you download the app to an i-device it's time to add the child, and create a login. After that is done the child is ready to start playing. All the characters are introduced, and there are games to play, lessons to learn, little video clips to watch, and books to read. There is a clear path that the child will take throughout the app. After they finish one activity or clip the next one unlocks, and there is an icon to tell them if it is a game or video. There is also an area for free play where there are games and songs to play freely, though some are locked there are many to play including tracing and practicing the sounds they've already learned.

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

How did we use this?

I have to admit my 6 year-old son didn't love it at first. It took some pushing on my part to get him to play it a few times until he eventually did love it. He was not big on the songs or games because he is on the older end of the range for this app. Like I said he's already reading mostly, so he might have thought this too easy at first. But, after he played it a few times he started enjoying the songs and games, and it got more interesting for him. The lessons are engaging, the colors and images are fun, and the characters are interesting including Percival the talking suit of armor.

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

What did I think?

I really love this method of teaching reading. The idea that children are learning letters AND sounds through fun and engaging lessons and games is a benefit, especially for my busy boys who don't always love learning to read. The quality of this app is impressive. I didn't really have any issues with the app itself, and it all ran very smoothly. The voices are clear, and that's so important with the forming of the letter sounds. So far there hasn't been any questions as to what sound the narrator was making when matching letters to sounds. Unfortunately, I won't have any more little ones that can use this after my 6 year-old is done. I would have loved to have this years ago when my older boys were learning to read. They would have loved it too.

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

You can try this app out for 2 weeks free to see if you like it first! I always love having the opportunity to try something. After that you will have to purchase a membership of $9.99/month, with the ability to cancel anytime. Or, you can purchase a whole year for $98.99. The app will be good for up to 3 children.

If you'd like to see what others had to say about this app, click on the banner below!

Phonics Museum App {Veritas Press Reviews}

Veritas Press can also be found here:

Twitter:  @VeritasPress

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Friday, August 18, 2017

5 days of... Homeschool outside the home

The world is our classroom.

I love that thought because I really feel like it is. We have had some amazing experiences learning together as a family outside of our home. We've gone on boat adventures, taken a train to Seattle, watched police dogs in action, toured chip factories, and much more.

Here are just a few shots of the things we have done over the summer...

Ocean boat tour. We learned all about crabs, and the kids even got to hold one!


Music in the park during the summer...


Exploring caves...


Tennis camp.


Lots and lots of swimming at the local pool


Volunteering at the local foodshare...


This is just the summer, and I didn't share a picture of everything we did!

So, what do we do the rest of the school year? Much of the same, except there is even more.

We could easily spend more days outside of our home doing great activities than at home. There are so many great opportunities that it's easy to find at the end of the week that we've had hardly any time at home to do actual school work! This happens a lot for us. I find so many great opportunities to do classes, field trips, and outdoor adventures that I want to do them all.

I will list some of the regular things we do during the school year including co-ops and classes.

Homeschool days:

We take advantage of many local businesses and museums homeschool discount days. Some that we love to take part in every year include homeschool skates, Oregon Garden homeschool day, and Get Air homeschool jump time. There are too many to list, but I usually keep my eyes and ears open for these. Facebook has been a tremendous help in getting the word out for these times and days. I remember when we first started this homeschool journey, I really had to search high and low for these events because they are often just by word of mouth, and not always advertised.

Homeschool Skate during the day in Salem


We have the wonderful flexibility to just decide to head to a park during the day if the weather is nice (or sometimes when it's not!). When we need a break or want to get some wiggles out you might find us at a park or on a walk. The kids love having the park all to themselves sometimes.

The boys playing at the new nature play area at Champoeg last Fall (2016)
Enjoying the local skate park during the school hours


We can be found at the library 2-3 times a week. We have 2 different libraries that we frequent. Sometimes it's just a resting place for us during lessons, sometimes it's for specific reasons (storytime, homeschool group activities, finding certain books), and often it's just a different place other than home.

Me reading Angus Lost to Alex at the Wilsonville library

Homeschool classes (not co-op):

The kind of classes that I am talking about here are ones that we pay for or that are offered by our charter. We attend our charter enrichment classes once a week, and those include PE, computer, science, writing, and math. We also like to take classes at local places like Village Home, the local art studio, or science museum.

PE class at Summit Learning Charter enrichment
Art History lesson and painting class at Young at Art studio in Salem
Co-op classes:

We attend a co-op where the classes are taught by the moms, and therefore we don't have to pay a lot except for a few small fees (registration, small class fee under $10 usually). We also get a great support system, and make some close friends here. The one we attend meets on Wednesdays for a good portion of the day, so it's an all day out of the house kind of day. Add onto that a drive of 30 minutes one way, and we are usually beat by the end of it, but we have a lot of fun things happen there for Mom and kids.

I taught a class of 6 and 7 year-olds last year, we made a counting rainbow cereal game that all the kids loved.
Church and Cub Scout activities:

My boys are all involved in Cub Scouts and Scouts through our church. They also have other regular church activities including youth group activities, and primary children activities. We also have ward and church wide events like halloween parties, Christmas parties, campouts, talent shows, etc. These always provide great learning experiences, and socializing opportunities.

The Pinewood derby is always a fun one!
Our church/ward Christmas party, and guess who Santa was? Daddy! The big kids figured it out right away. Thankfully the little guy never did.
Field trips:

We have some pretty amazing field trips with homeschoolers all over our area. Sometimes it's with the local or co-op group like to the pumpkin patch, and sometimes it's with a group of families that we don't even know. That happens quite a bit more often (the field trips with people we don't know) just because there is usually a need for a certain number of attendees to make the field trip happen, so a Mom will just organize something and post it on one of the many groups we are a part of. I jump right in if it is something we are interested in. Last year my son's class at co-op ended up turning into a field trip class. He went on some amazing field trips from about January through May including things like the Kettle chip factory, a shirt printing business, and an aviary.

Kiddos at the pumpkin patch last Fall (2016)
I think that about wraps up our "outside the home" homeschool time. I'd say this is where at least half our week is spent. I am working on trying to lower that, but there are just so many good things to do! I can't resist. I haven't figured out our full schedule for the school year yet, but it looks like it will be Wednesday's, Thursdays, and Fridays will probably be main outside activity days. Thanks for visiting the blog hop today (even if I was late :)

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

5 days of...Our favorite school supplies


I love school supplies. In fact I am overloaded with many school supplies from previous years, so we really didn't need a lot this year. So, for this post I decided I would show you just a few things that we purchased for this school year, and some of our other favorites that we already have.


Lets start with maps! I think these are a definite homeschool must have.

I first noticed this World ScrunchMap at Target when we were perusing the school supply section. I didn't buy it the first time, but thought it was really cool. Later I decided it would be a really useful tool in our lessons! So, on our next trip I picked it up.


This thing is absolutely genius. No more folding, and it can scrunch up to take anywhere. I sure could have used this for co-op last year when I had to cart my globe back and forth every week. This would have been super convenient. I'm excited to have this new "school supply" for our use this year. The kids absolutely love that it can just be wrinkled up too. Oh, and the non-tearing feature, so happy for that too. I've gone through many maps because they got ripped up.



I haven't found the scrunch map for the states, so I have a regular paper one for that.


Basic School Supplies.

Now we've got the basics, like pencils, and coloring utensils.

Here's the 1st graders caddy. He absolutely loves this thing. All the items in here are old. We didn't have to replace any scissors, do-a-dot markers, or glue. Just wanted to show some of the things we use almost daily, and replace as needed.


We also use these things on a pretty regular basis. Some of these things are new, some old. We have erasers, watercolors, stickers (for sticker charts or incentives, or decorating lapbooks), glue sticks, expo markers, colored pencils, regular markers, and crayons.


I usually keep all these things handy on these shelves in our dining room (see bottom shelf!), or the drawers next to them.



This is something new for us. I purchased a 2 pack of the my light booklights from Costco, and love how well built they are. Super handy, and they are also very bright. The little white one on the right was purchased at IKEA before I purchased the other 2 (it's not as bright). These are great for projects that need a little more light, and for book reading.



I have had these for years. They were originally purchased for Tot school. Now that my kids are grown out of tot school we use them for all kinds of other things, and they are still super useful. Some of the things we use them for now are: Lunch (yes we eat some meals on them when the kids eat and watch something), messy art projects, drying trays for those messy art projects, playdoh, slime, experiments, etc. The list could go on. I purchased these particular ones at Oriental Trading. They are a good size for most everything!


Games and puzzles.

These are a definite staple in our "school supplies." There is so much valuable learning in playing games and puzzles. We have boxes of games. We had so many that we had to pack some away. I am showing a few games we are going to use as we study the states this year, and a new puzzle.


Computers and laptops.

We definitely need to have these in our home. So many resources on them, and we have to have access to the internet for some classes, and research. We have a new laptop this school year, so I'm excited to have that for us to be able to take learning on the go, or just to other places in the house.



Admittedly we don't really need backpacks on a daily basis, but I like the kids to have them so we can pack them up once in a while if we are going to be out and about a lot. The only one in need of a replacement backpack this year was Aric. Those things are expensive, so we only replace when needed!


Toys and manipulatives.

I list this as a school supply because I just love to have hands on stuff for the kids. I have collected a lot of these things over the years, so we don't have to buy a whole lot anymore. It's fun to pull out something to go along with a theme, or lesson, and adds excitement to our homeschool days.


Minute to Win it.

To wrap this up...

As part of our back to school supplies fun today we played some minute to win it games. I found the games on Etsy, and they were a real hit. We did things like building glue sticks, pencil catching, peanut butter sandwich bouncing, apple stacking, and crayon sorting. All the kids agreed it was super fun.

We kept score, and won prizes too! I hope to have a video of this put together soon. It was a fun morning of games!
That about wraps up our school supplies for this school year. I will not be posting for planning/record keeping tomorrow (I could use advice there myself), but I will resume with outside the home on Thursday.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
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