Labor Day Unit Study and Gifts for Community Workers

I am a big fan of unit studies. It helps me organize the overwhelming world of educational options. Plus, the kids like everything relating.

We have always started Rothacher Academy the first week in September but surprisingly this is our first year to do a Labor Day unit study, along with a fun "service project". We LOVE a good excuse to give gifts and make others feel appreciated!

Check out my Pinterest board, The Ones about Homeschooling to find some links to lots of Labor Day fun. Keep in mind, we will NOT be doing all that is pined, because...reality. These "community helpers" were free printables from another bingo game but when cut up, they fit nicely into the guess who board. Now we can ask questions like, "do you drive as part of your job?" "do you wear a hat as part of your job?" as well as "are you a girl?"

Monday's are when we go to pickup our groceries. We chose to give RedBox codes and bags of popcorn to the sweet workers who serve us weekly by shopping for and bring out our groceries to us. This could be a fun Labor Day gift for lots of people who serve us.

And here are some FREE Printables for if you'd like to join us in honoring those laborers who are likely still working on the Labor Day holiday, ie checkers, gas station clerks, servers at restaurants, etc.











What do you do on your long Labor Day weekend!?

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Scavenger Hunt or Errand Day

Today's "scavenger hunt" was loooong but ended up being a success!

The valley is hosting a City Wide Water Day in the park this Saturday. We already have a slew of small water guns but where hoping for some more water-fun options.

The kids and I headed out at nap time on our mystery adventure. They were supposed to keep their eyes closed until we got to our first destination; aka mission Ellie take a nap.

We eased south, about 40 minutes from our house to hit multiple stores in he way home. We arrived at the first store and went straight to the restrooms like any other trip to the store with lots of kids.

While hey we're in the stalls using the bathroom I slipped pictures clues I'd ripped in 1/2 under each door. I got one smirk, one confused grunt, and two excited squeals.

We finished up, washed hands, and their next clue was found in a section of the store we NEVER visit. I sent them on two aisle where I could see them easily and then got caught scattering the other 1/2s of the clues. Oh well.

They all rushed to put their pieces together and confirm what we were shopping for- water guns/toys! This plan is also my way of making their participation in this errand running more voluntary and hopefully fun.

After finding out what we were hunting for, we quickly talked about how we were going to RuSh in and out of stores, discover where clearance and toy sections are located, scan the sections for appropriately priced water toys, and then purchase those that fit our needs. And GO!

We found a pool water shooter at the first store. When we were checking out, the sweet checker gave each child a sucker in their favorite color. Crazy sweet. We found a backpack of water balls and a frisbee at the second. Before heading to the next town, we broke out our snacks and water bottles. The third stop, we found nothing. The fourth stop, we found 20 larger water guns and two packs of water balls. The fifth place we stopped we found nothing. The searched and searched, talked to some employees and still found nothing at our sixth stop. We met some friends to add to the adventure at our seventh and eighth places where we found nothing. Our ninth, and closest to home stop, we found a gazillion water shooters and snatched up a few.

Our last couples stops, we'd used up a lot of our good but made it through and ended up home just in time to make a picnic dinner!

How do you run errands with your kids? Do you have to spice it up occasionally?

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Life Eclipsed

Every time. Every time I think I've figured out our new normal and carved out a space for writing something changes it.

This past week? Our sweet "antman", foster friend has returned to our home. While he fits well in our family, we are still relearning his routine, naps, eating needs, etc. He's learned to go back to sleep at night after eating but is still waking a couple of times a night and I am the one whose brain doesn't seem to shut back off after getting up with him. Then my family had a birthday party for me, we headed out to watch the eclipse, did our big errand day, and did annual physicals for foster home rectification.

I am steadily trying to finish projects around our house before starting our homeschool year the first week in September. We had an unexpected remodel after some water damage to our flooring, so that started a crazy cycle of tearing things apart, taking things down, cleaning, rearranging, redecorating, cleaning, purging, yard selling, cleaning, and on and on. Technically we still haven't even finished the remodel {waiting to install the cabinets that are laying in our garage} but at least most of our house isn't in shambles anymore.

One of my projects has been to get our house back into working order. After having our entire living space in the house torn apart, and bedrooms and bathrooms covered in dust, this sounds like an easy task but has never-endd. If you've been around this blog or we're friends IRL, you know I LOVE pictures, so this means that I had to take down our entire collage wall in order to paint and then make decisions, which I'm super slow about, on how to rehang everything...oh, and I'm short and we have some tall ceilings, so this requires my hubs help and or a ladder.

Another project has been to plan our homeschool work/goals for the year. I have most of our stuff lined out in my planner for the year, including coop field trips and unit studies. BUT I don't have all the materials printed and sorted into folders yet. Hopefully I can get ahead somehow because I tend to get berried under life and then run out of time to prep leading us to miss the awesomeness I was hoping to do. I am pumped that we got to do a few of the fun things I had planned for the 2017 solar eclipse this past Monday. We were able to go as an entire family to a local water park where the library was handing out FREE solar glasses and we got to make memories watching something monumental. AND my kids thought this "school work" was fun!

And a final project is to actually tag our clothing consignment event items Before starting school even though the actual sale isn't until after we start. This way we can actually sell things this season; we've missed the last 3 season's sales which make a big difference in the amount of stuff we can buy. Good thing the kids are starting to wear clothes for longer stretches of time!

My spirits are being refreshed with uncharacteristically cooler weather this past week and in the coming weeks. This makes errand running, outdoor play, and working on projects that much nicer. Sadly, for central Arkansas "cooler weather" just means high 80s but I'll take it and try not to focus on the predicted nasty winter following shortly after this nice breeze.

So, what does this time of year look like for you? Do you drowned in life some days? How do you get ahead?

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Homeschoolers and Public School “Specials”

Two years ago we decided to try to enroll in "specials" at our local public school.

Recent laws were passed stated that homeschoolers have the right to attend extracurricular classes a their local public schools. To my understanding, the school still gets to make the final decision to allow this or not but Vilonia schools have been super sweet about this.

I let my oldest, Maggie choose two "specials" when she was going into the second grade. She chose art and music. The school found a home room class to pair her with so she went to those classes with them on their assigned days. The office staff were so friendly and welcoming. The first week I walked her past the office to check in and then to the art or music class to make sure she knew where she was going. After that, she just checked in at the office and walked herself to class. The home room would walk back to their classroom after each special out the front of the school. This allowed Maggie to line up at the end of the line and come straight out to us where we were waiting in the car.

She did this for two years at the elementary school, taking music and library the next year. This year, my middle child, Izzie is going into the second grade so she was allowed to attend specials {our rule, not the school's}. Maggie moved up to the intermediate school. The new school does it a little differently, having her walk to the home room class and then walk in line with them to the special that day. Both girls chose music and P.E. this year.

We learned of another homeschooler who takes a math class at the intermediate school and then stays for that class' specials every day of the week. I don't know much about this but am encouraged at the chance to use this resource if needed. We also know several families that have been allowed in choir, band, and sports!

We love this opportunity because it offers social interaction with kids their own age, a class where they're learning fun things that I likely wouldn't spend as much time on, and gives them a taste of public school just for fun. An added bonus is that it gives us a contact at schools to better love and serve our community through. God is good; just when I begin to worry about my kids "socialization", He shows me my children's strengths, social sides, and that we actually ARE "in" our community through the fact that our kids already knew a minimum of four kids in their classes.

Do you homeschool? Have you ever considered this FREE option for extracurriculars?

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Rothacher Academy 2017/18: curriculum and organizing the entire Year

Yesterday I *started* the next steps in the process of planning, sorting, and organizing our entire school year.

One of the first and scariest questions people ask when they find out we homeschool is, "what curriculum do you use?" Sigh.
For some this might be an easy question but for me, it's untangled with guilt, defensiveness, weight, and a long pause.

We use ... whatever. Due to finances, too many options, different learning systems, and my tendency to over analyze things-

  • We use things people have given us and Recommended.
  • We use cheap, all-inclusive but sparse workbooks, usually from SAMs Club- great for getting an idea of what basics are expected at each grade level yet sometimes a little low on leveling.
  • We use free printable materials found online.
  • We use books, field trips, and life.
  • We use/create/do lots of unit studies.

I've pictured what I currently have for each child as well as what we [three oldest] will be doing together.

We just had our Vilonia Homeschool Coop planning meeting for the year. We brought all our ideas for field trips, educational tours, holiday parties, and seasonal meet-ups. The first thing I did in planning our Rothacher Academy school year was mark down in my planner when those coop meetings were likely happening.

Then I started on the first week in September and numbered out our weeks of school, skipping the weeks for holidays or busy weeks we'll need a break. That way I knew which folder to plan holiday until studies. I also add each child's activities {and times}. Everyone in the house has an assigned color so I just use that color pen to save space by eliminating the names. VHC field trips are penciled in until confirmed times/dates. 

These are the workbooks I will tear the pages out of and divide up among the weeks. I make sure to include each subject each week but not necessarily for each page. We tend to do school work 3-4 days a week.

The Daily Language workbooks were found at Mardel's in the clearance section. The Comprehensive Curriculum workbooks was found at SAMs Club. Hooked on Phonics set was found on an online yard sale via Facebook.
The Multiplication Wipe-Clean Workbook was found on Rainbow Resource Center in the clearance section. Teaching Textbooks Math 5 {cd rom set only} was found NEW on Ebay.

Story of the World was found at a used homeschool book sale in South Carolina by my SIL. The audio cds {we have the entire set of 4} were found cheapest on Rainbow Resource Center along with the planets coloring workbook via their clearance section. Spelling Connections has an entire kit and came from a friend who did K12 online public school but no longer needed this.  Just Write was either given to us or I found it on sale on Amazon.

Along with these, I also find lots of fun, often FREE printable materials online via blogs I've found on Facebook or Pinterest. I also utilize Teachers Pay Teachers,, and only use educational FREE apps for the kids 20 minutes of iPad time each day.

I use these folders to always have something ready for the week. Ideally, I will lesson plan weekly, adding to each thing or preparing lessons but in, I have a basic plan ready for each week. I pull it out and place it into their baskets where their history binders and other books are stored. They grab them each morning after morning chores, daily chores, breakfast, table chores, and activity classes at the public schools and get to work. Most days, we finish before lunch after a couple of hours of working.

How do you try to organize your homeschool to keep everything/one moving? Are you like me, modge podge curriculum or do you do a specific all-inclusive one?

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