Posted in Home School How-Tos, Spirited Blessings

Homeschool How-To #9: Combining Two Lessons Into One


Combining Two Lessons Into One

How I Do It

There are a number of ways you can go about combining two lessons into one. I’ll show you how we do it for our A Beka home school plans, and you can feel free to adapt it to suit your child, your curricula, and your individual needs.

First,  you need to be honest with yourself as parent and teacher. Can your child keep up with the pace or will you be burning him out? Is there a need academically or socially to keep up with the lessons the way they are written on the calendar? Or does he simply need more to occupy his time or more of a challenge? Consider these things carefully before adding anything more to his workload.

I start with the A Beka Teacher Plan book. If you didn’t order this book, or if you are using a different curriculum, you could substitute with graph paper or simply make a list in a notebook. I do, however, love the way that this book is organized.

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I don’t use it for it’s intended purpose. When you combine lessons using this book, you tend to run out of room. I use it to organize a list of things that I will need for the upcoming lesson. This way, I can grab it all at the same time and place it in his backpack for the next morning.

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I can’t be searching around our tight home school space for every little flashcard or game as I need it. The backpack helps us both stay organized and focused on the tasks at hand.

Next, I take my graph paper (I like the composition notebooks best) and I write down my “To Do List”. You could do all of this on the computer, however, I personally find it easier to keep in mind during the day’s lesson if I have physically written it down before hand. To each his own.

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I Arrange it by subjects in the same ordering that one lesson would be in. For instance, I will write down everything in two phonics lessons into one category, then continue on to phonics review, then numbers, etc. This keeps me from having to go back and forth in the teacher’s manual from one lesson to the other. Rather, I have all of the same information written down in the format of one fluent lesson.

Keep your child’s personal needs in mind as you go through the planning process. It may not be necessary to repeat two of the same activities in one day as written in the manual for two separate lessons, or you may choose to add some extra repetition in one area or another to ensure he is keeping up with the pace. For instance, my son is a whiz in the “Numbers” subject and doesn’t need to be drilled so much in number recognition or basic counting. We usually go through this subject rather quickly, more in the form of review. However, When it comes to “Letters And Sounds”, he needs every bit of drilling we can squeeze in. I don’t skimp in this area, as I know how much he needs the practices. If the same activity is used in two different lessons (this is often the case with flashcards, for instance), we simply do it once near the beginning of the phonics block and again near the end.

This is, after all, the beauty of home school. You should always tailor and adapt materials to fit your students needs.

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Posted in Spirited Blessings

Home School How-To #8: Acquiring Everyday Learning Needs On A Dime


Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for homeschooling On A Dime. Some of these are my own ideas and others are from some of my favorite links. Enjoy!

1) Make your own bulletin board from cardboard or foam board and pretty paper.

Find out how I made last year’s bulletin board here. A new bulletin board close to the same size would have been $35.49 at Office Depot, but it was $0 when I made it myself from items I already had around the house.


2) Cutting Practice

Printable cutting practice sheets can be found online. They are really cute, and we will be using them throughout the year to help the children develop their fine motor skills. However, when you don’t have a printer, or when your child wants to do more practicing than planned, have a box like this ready:

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After buying our art supplies (we found AMAZING deals for back to school this year), I cut up some of the boxes to create an easy array of adorable  “cutting practice” in heavy paper/ light cardboard. Blueberry Ball (almost five) can cut paper pretty easily, but Raspberry Bug (just turned two) has just recently learned how to hold her scissors. I geared the activity box more toward her skill level and cut the scraps into long, thin strips. I like this idea a lot because it gives me something I can just grab and give to her if when she finishes her work before Blue. Not to mention the only things I had to purchase for this activity were scissors and the box. I also decided to add our hole punch for Blue. Red is too young for that, but he just has soooo much fun with the hole punch and it really works those finger muscles and fine motor skills =)


3) Use baby wipes containers for pencil boxes.

If you use a lot of wipies still in your home, consider buying them in the plastic containers. They are the perfect size for pencils, pens, markers, most sticker sheets, chalk, and more.

It may be more expensive for the wipes themselves, but way cheaper than purchasing the pencil boxes individually. Let’s use Wal-Mart’s Parent’s Choice brand as an example:

  • Bargain Box with 800 sheets: about $1.35 per 80 sheets
  • Plastic container with 80 sheets: $1.88 per 80 sheets

So instead of paying more for baby wipes, you would be paying the same ($1.35) plus $0.33 per pencil box. 😉


4) Make your own paints

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Aside from curricula, paints are perhaps the most expensive items on our school shopping list. Find out how we made paints On A Dime here.

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I also love this puffy paint recipe that Heidi at ABC Jesus Loves Me recommends for tactile letters.

Happy Hooligans has 15 Easy Homemade Paint Recipes too, and they always seem to be having fun with their crafts.


5) Collect your own math counters instead of buying the expensive standards. Our math manipulatives are kept in a plastic shoebox individually separated by zip top bags. Each week or two I will change them out so my children never tire of them. And when you use cheap/free items (most of which can be found around your home already), you can afford variety! Our counters include sea shells and small coral found on the local beaches (we are so blessed), aquarium rocks that we’ve just had around forever, water bottle caps, pennies, beads, and cut up straws. That’s just to name a few.


6) Speaking of straws, if you cut them into smaller pieces, they can be used for beading and color recognition like we did here. Or, go with the classic for beading and use uncooked pasta.


7) Use plastic page protectors or clear contact paper to turn your worksheets into dry erasing fun. Or check out my post on how to use zip top baggies to make your own dry erase book.

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It’s cheaper than laminating, and you can reuse worksheets rather than reprinting every time. Save money, time, and energy.  I can’t tell you how much this has saved our budget! My daughter loves her dry erase book and with the new A Beka curriculum needing to last through both children, it has been a much-needed insurance policy.

Note: If you go for contact paper, you may want to place a sturdy backing on it, or hole punch it and place it in a binder. And keep in mind that there are different kinds of contact paper. For dry erase use, you want to make certain that it is the shiny clear kind, not a matte-looking one. I go for the kinds that are designed to protect appliance surfaces.


8) Purchase your books used.

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Yeah, you’ve probably already thought of that one. Here are some ways we’ve used to purchase books on the cheap:

  • Garage/yard sales
  • Thrift Shops
  • Flea Markets
  • Book Off (or other used bookstores)
  • Friends who are moving or spring cleaning (can’t tell you how many of our books have come at us that way!)
  • My absolute all time favorite: HPB Marketplace or (if you have the storefront in your area) Half Price Books. You can get almost any children’s book for under three dollars, including board books. That’s on the website; we don’t have a storefront here in Oahu. Last year, we purchased the entire year’s reading list in ABC Jesus Loves Me for about $100! Keep in mind, that cost is including the outrageous shipment cost to Hawaii.

By the way, do look at their shipment policies before starting your shopping cart. You can save money on shipping by ordering from the same stores when possible.


9) Always keep an eye out for the sales. You never know what you may find- or when- or where. You are a home schooler. That has a lot of shopping perks to it. Buy things when they go on absolute sale whenever possible. Back to school “sales” can often be deceiving. I’ve found the best sales are post- back to school. Wait til everyone has completed their lists and go pick up the scraps. In between “Back to school” and the Halloween stock-ups is the perfect time to do your bargain hunting. Just when the stores are trying to clear the shelves from one sale to set up the next.

But, I’m always looking. If I’m at a store- it doesn’t matter what store you can bet I’ll be scouring the office/ crafts/ kid sections for anything on the cheap:

  • I got all of my binders to set up the A Beka program this year from CVS (or Longs as we call it in Hawaii) for 30-40 cents each! The bigger ones, which we weren’t in need of, were only 65 cents! Not bad compared to the normal price of about 8-9 DOLLARS! I also picked up all the eight packs of large erasers they had because they were thirty cents each- and all of the dot stickers they had for twenty cents a pack. And I got four packs of dry erase markers for around a dollar each. Think about it- that’s just because I was in the right place (a pharmacy of all stores) at the right time. You never know what you are going to find.
  • I like Malissa and Doug a little too much probably, but every time I’m in a TJ Max or a Ross, I have to check the kid’s section- and the kid’s clearance section – to add some extra fun to our learning.

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  • I have to mention my all-time favorite store as well (call me a nerd, but yes, it’s an office and craft supply store). Fisher’s Hawaii. It’s an Office supply warehouse to be exact and it’s the only place on the island I can find regularly low prices- I mean mainland-low-sale prices! We got a box of 24 crayons for 20 cents (or rather, I should say we picked up about thirty boxes for twenty cents each), we got those pencil boxes (pictured above) for fifty cents each, markers for a dollar a pack, composition notebooks for ten cents each (including primary!), and fun animal folders for five cents each. That’s just to name a few! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this store.
  • I need to give a shout out to a store I really miss from the mainland as well. If you’ve been homeschooling much at all, I’m sure you’re well aware of this little gem called Dollar Tree. I miss it so much my heart almost aches for it. EVERYTHING in the store is a dollar.

What are some of your favorite ways to educate “On A Dime”? Got any suggestions for us? I’d love to have some fresh ideas for saving money.

Posted in math, Spirited Blessings

Playing and Learning With Straws


One of my favorite activities this week was one I chose to do with Raspberry Bug.


First, we started with brightly colored straws and a pair of safety scissors. We had fun as I guided her hand (she’s only two and a half and can’t do it on her own yet) and cut the straws into smaller pieces. It was funny; she giggled as the pieces hit the small bowl. At first, they were all closed up on the ends from being pinched by scissors. As they opened up, they “popped” and some flew rather far. An unexpected surprise, even for me!

Next, I pulled a shoestring out and showed her how to lace the “beads” we made on to make jewelry.


She had a great deal of focus and concentration on this one. I think it’s the first time she’s succeeded at being able to fit beads on all by herself. She put quite a few on before I could tell she was getting a bit restless with this activity.

Time to move to the next thing!

I added matching dot stickers to a paper plate (I used a sharpie for the black dot) and added a very small measuring spoon to the bowl.


I then let her go at the sorting. From the get-go, she was just thrilled to be spooning the straws, and I had to focus her attention on the colors frequently. I just kept asking things like,” What color is the dot?”, and “Does that bead match?” She did this activity the longest. That probably had to do with the fact that I used dot stickers. She is absolutely in love with them!


As I said before, Red is only two years old, and we were mainly focusing on color recognition and on on fine motor development, but this activity could be turned into a large selection of games and a wide variety of expertise. Here are some more ideas:

  • Cut the straws into different sizes and use for size sequencing and sorting
  • You could use them to count or even as adding, subtracting, or greater than and less than visuals.
  • Use them as an “on a dime” version of counting blocks by cutting them into three different sizes. This will allow them to be used for the ones, tens, and fives place.
  • Use the different colors or sizes for practicing patterns.
  • Get creative, and see what kind of pictures you can make.

Have you used straws for learning? If you have another idea, I’d love to read about it!

This post has been featured on:

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And on:

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Posted in Spirited Blessings

Abeka K5: Day One And In Love Already


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We had so much fun in our first day of K5! I especially loved the Bible study.  We learned about heaven, how to get there, and about the role that Christ plays in it all. I thought it was a beautiful place to start. A lot of Bible programs I have seen and tried don’t go nearly as deep as these and they usually try to follow either a chronological order or an order based on the books of the Bible. This is fine if all you want to teach are your basic Bible stories, however, I found this refreshing because it teaches a lot more about Jesus and ties every aspect to Him from the get-go. He was ready for a little more meat, and this lesson gave him exactly that!

These lessons have detailed pictures to illustrate each new topic of study. The plans also included worship songs which both our children loved engaging in.  Raspberry Bug is a little young to pay attention all the way through a lesson still, but she loves to dance and sing along to the songs. It gives both children the enthusiasm and mini breaks that they need to keep our Bible time running longer and smoother.

It also helps Red that we do Bible Time in the mornings during breakfast. This will change as they get older and can hold attention longer on one thing, but for now, it works well this way. Our breakfasts may last longer, but so do our Bible studies!

Blueberry Ball was very intrigued as we went through the lesson which described in detail some things that wouldn’t and some things that would be in heaven. He began to feel very sad when I first explained that there would be no church buildings in heaven- then happy when I told him that heaven is better than any church we could ever have on earth because we see God face to face, not just long for his presence. He again became sad because I explained that there would be no need for lamps or flashlights or even the sun or moon in heaven- then he became happy again when I explained why: “The face of Jesus illuminates everything in heaven. It is a bigger,brighter, and more beautiful light than we could ever experience here on earth”. It was surprisingly an emotional roller coaster for him.

He even got a deeper understanding for what sin is and why we all need Jesus in our hearts and in our lives. The Bible lesson truly was the highlight of my day.

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After breakfast, he was pretty excited to start on his calendar and weather activities. He placed the “September” card at the top and the number fifteen where it belongs. Then, we looked up what the temperature was outside and Blue got to mark it on the chart using a dry erase marker. I placed all of the morning routine activities in sheet protectors, and laminated the smaller pieces. This makes it so that they are not only protected, but also gives them a dry erase capability.

After I we were ready to get the academics started, Blue had a bit of a melt down. He hadn’t even really seen what there was to do yet, he just knew he didn’t like the curriculum I’d had earlier in the year, and was afraid he wouldn’t like it this time around. I sent him to his room to cool down.

He was in his room for about ten minutes before I went in to speak with him. I reminded him of our Bible study and how it spoke of sin. Then I asked him if he thought he might be sinning by not doing what Mommy and Daddy expects of him. And it worked! I often relate Bible lessons to things he does wrong (because I don’t want our Bible time to be a negative experience), but something had to change here. He had just simply refused without any justification. But when I brought up the fact that it may be a sin by not “honoring his father and mother” , I think his exact words were, “Okay Mommy, I’m ready to try.” =)

We finished everything by ten o’ clock! That includes Bible, calendar, an unscheduled melt down, letters and sounds, numbers skills, reading, art, and God’s World (Don’t you just love the name “God’s World” for science?). I’d scheduled the extracurricular activities for him to complete, but I wasn’t expecting us to necessarily have time for everything. I always try to add extra to our day for the “just in case” scenario.

I am amazed at how well it held his attention, and kept him motivated to do more. I thought that since a lot of the first few lessons reviews what he already knows, he would become bored, but I was very surprised at how many easy and practical solutions there were to both keep his attention and to cater to his need to move. It was nice to have our first week of Abeka here at Grandma’s house, but I can also see it working smoothly enough on our boat (there will be more on how everything is organized next week). We broke up the entire day with Simon Says here and there. We also frequently changed positions from sitting in our chairs, to standing, to sitting cross-legged on the floor. He had a blast with Simon Says and I think we will be doing more of that in future lessons- whether it’s scheduled or not.


I think I will be removing the color lessons, as he is way too familiar with his colors to have any interest. However, they will be a nice addition to Raspberry Bug’s schooling.

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In addition to reviewing the color red, we also did some from a sight word printable pack. I is the letter Blue is working on right now, so we worked on sight words that start with the letter “I” (like it, is, I, in…). I have some sight words flashcards I’ve laminated for Red so she can use her dry erase marker on them. We went over how to say each word first, then I let her work with the markers. It worked pretty well. It was an independent activity that she could work on without taking much attention away from Blue. She would also join us in saying our “I” phonics chant as it came along.

We also had a sight word printable pack planned for each day. I was only able to print a few of the pages offered in the packs because of her age and skill level, but she loved it! You can find the packs here:

sight word packsWe have a bunch of clip cards, flashcards, file folder games and more that are left over from Blue’s previous school days. I spent the last couple of weeks laminating everything so that she could grab whatever looked good to her. I will keep these accessible to me and visible to her throughout the school year.  This will keep the mess- and hopefully they destruction- down. We also ended up counting her dry erase markers. She can only count up to about four right now, but she is only two years old. =)  Her activities are way less structured, but they are intentional nonetheless.


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She did the planned art activity and God’s World with us. God’s World is merely a reading and discussion activity, so while she may not fully understand yet, it is a great exercise for attention and learning to love reading time. Our art lesson was learning to draw a house. They then Got to decorate with cotton ball clouds and flower stickers. Red can’t draw quite yet, so she got to do a house coloring sheet. Beautiful!


 This post has been featured on Managing Your Blessings:

Managing Your Blessings

I can’t wait to see what the following days and weeks have in store for us! Have you used or are you using Abeka? How do you adapt to your child’s needs? Is space a problem in your home as well? I would love to hear your comments!

Posted in Homeschool On A Dime Original Freebies, Spirited Blessings

A Beka-Themed Task Cards


We got all our boxes in! I’m so excited to start. The Abeka program looks like so much fun. I know it’s going to take a lot of effort on my part to keep things running smoothly, but I’m so up for the challenge! I love the idea of going for a more traditional (rather than progressive) approach. We start on Monday, so this weekend I will try to let you know what we are doing to get into focus and stay organized.

First up: Abeka-themed task cards.

I do understand he wont really be doing seat work for a while yet, but I wanted him to have a visual reminder of how much work-before-play needs to happen each day. This way, as he transitions to more independent work, he will already know what to expect for each day much like he does with his chores already.

Here’s what I came up with:

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Please share this download with others via this post, not the document itself. This download is intended for personal or classroom use only. This download was not intended for any individual or entity to profit monetarily from. Enjoy!

Task Chart Abeka K5

I tried to include everything we will be covering (at least at some point in the year) with the new curriculum in one convenient chart. I even put four “ask Mom” boxes for anything that remains unplanned.

I placed the sheet in front of his notebook in a dry erase cover. Then, I simply cross out whatever is not required for the day.

This saves us wall space, but you could also copy it twice, laminate, and velcro to use as task cards like the Unlikely Homeschool created on her wall.

I can’t wait to show you more as our week unfolds! I’ll try and post frequent updates, but it appears that (at least until I have a routine down more) I can only promise weekend posts! Keep reading to find out what his notebook looks like, how he likes or dislikes it, and more successes and struggles.

How do you keep your children focused and on task?

Posted in Spirited Blessings

Samson Craft


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I shared with you in my last home school post how difficult the “first couple of weeks” of school went- not at all that well…

We didn’t have much time for anything extra- no fun games, no arts and crafts- because Blue refused to do the basics. Looking back I’d say the highlight of those two weeks was this activity we did with our Samson Bible study. Bible is always done in the mornings first thing. I read to them while they do breakfast, we pray together, and then after breakfast is cleaned up we do a go-along activity.

Blue had been having trouble with lying the few days leading up to this lesson. I would give him a little break and he promised to continue his school work later on- it didn’t happen. Not that he couldn’t stay focused after trying again- he didn’t try.

This lesson helped him to realize the importance of keeping his word. I told him how Samson broke his promises to God and the consequences that followed.

Next, I compared it to his behavior the day before. I rarely do this because I don’t want our Bible studies to be a source of contention or constant correction. However, there are times when it helps my son to realize why something needs to change.

I then had Blue draw a picture of Samson. I love his illustration (on the left)! See how much hair? Next, I had him write the words, ” I will keep my promises” (I helped him with spelling and even guided his hand on the word ‘promises’ as we ran out of room on the paper).

Then, we discussed the strength that Samson had while he still had favor in God’s eyes. He was able to break free from the seven ties they bound him in. Later, after he repented, he was able to break down the pillars. So I had him glue seven broken ties to the page. Bible time and counting in one- YAY!

Red Did the same activity (on the right) minus the handwriting. When we got to the gluing, she refused. Too messy for my high-sensory toddler =). But even her stick figures are getting better- I see a head, a smile, lots of hair, and two big shoes!

This was an activity Blue was very proud of. He couldn’t wait to bring it to Grandma the following weekend and “teach her about Samson”.

I think putting it down on paper made him more significantly understand the values of the moral lesson being taught.

This post has been featured on Be Different Act Normal:

Posted in Mommy's Bible Time

Discipleship, End Times, And Christian Living


This is one of my favorites in a new line of youtube Bible studies I’ve been following. Very in-depth and raw. I love it when people are not afraid to speak the truth. Even when it may offend others. Some can relate to these topics especially in relation to new believers and those struggling to believe because of how they may feel about the hypocrisy growing ever so common in the church today.

Let me know what your thoughts are!