Thursday, July 28, 2016

Homeschool Tour and the Cabinet of Curiosity

Painted as Maori Warriors for one of our Story of the World units

I've been wanting to do a homeschool tour for awhile but was intimidated by all the typing and pictures that a post like that would entail. So I decided instead to do some videos and give you a tour of our home school set up and show you how we do things. I had to break it up into several different parts in order to get it to upload, but they are each short. We are not perfect by any means, and are always learning new ways to do things. I just wanted to share because I know I learn so much from other homeschoolers when I see what they use and how they set up their homes to encourage learning.

The videos are a bit chaotic and I am not going to win any awards for cinematography, but I wanted to give you a quick overview of our homeschool set up. I also made it a point to leave our cupboards how they are most days, a little messy and random. I wanted to keep this real because I know I get easily discouraged by homeschool blogs that make it looks like everything  in their house is organized perfect and their kids love everything, because I don't think that is true for anyone.

Also I can talk really fast (I'm gifted that way) and so sorry about being a motor mouth. I think I was worried about getting everything in before the memory on my phone got full! Hopefully though something is helpful, and I'd love to hear more ideas or suggestions you have.

The first part goes over our morning routine and our homeschool binders

The second part goes over what curriculum we have and are using, and what I've liked and don't like

The third part goes into our "white cupboard" that has our manipulatives and things for the pre-schoolers

The Fourth part has two parts because we got interrupted, but they are each short.

So that is what we do... mostly. We are actually going to start school again next week. My kids have been begging me to do school again (always a good sign) and we pick up our homeschool order tomorrow, so I think we'll just dive in. Here are some of the things I ordered for this next year.

For Asher (3rd grade)

Draw the USA (I think we will do a postcard swap this year and try to get cards from people in all 50 states. He also has a coin collecting map for all the state quarters that we will try to fill up)

Homeschooling Boys - Library Based Curriculum Journal: 60 Day Plan - For Active and Adventurous Learners (I'm hoping this is as good as it looks. Asher is a super reluctant reader and so I'm hoping the format of this book will get him interested in reading more. I'm thinking it will be the backbone of most of what we do next year.)

Extreme Dot to Dots Prehistoric (These look challenging and awesome, and they have dinosaurs in them so I'm hoping they are a win) 

Write and Draw Your Own Comics (A way to entice my math loving, hands on boy to read and write. I have a feeling he is going to like this a lot. He is much more apt to read something if the text is in a word bubble than just on a page!)

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! (Another sneaky way for me to get him to read and write without knowing he is doing it)

Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes (I've been trying to think of a good "handicraft" for Asher to do for quiet time or while he listens to a book on tape and I'm hoping paper airplane folding will pass the test. I also got him some origami paper and found some dinosaur origami videos on youtube, so we'll see where it goes)

Coding Games in Scratch (Asher loved this website, but went as far as he could without subscribing, and since I don't want to subscribe I figure we need to find something else that he can do. He has used scratch before but I think he is getting old enough that he will really be able to do it one his own. He's super motivated to make video games so I think he'll like this book)

For Rose (2nd grade)

Write about Me and Write about My World (We did these books with Asher last year and they are awesome. Rose has been begging me all year to do the "writing books" so she is pretty excited about these. I really like them too because they are going to make great keepsakes since the kids write all about themselves.) 

McGuffey Readers (We saw these at a historical farm this year and Rose spent about a half hour pouring over them. She was really excited by them being what they use in the "olden times" and I was actually pretty impressed by them. They aren't super boring like most of the early readers and they teach really good values and stories. ) 

Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time (She isn't going to read it but I'll pick books from it and we'll read them together. I am actually really excited about this one)
Ages 6-9 Fun-Schooling Journal - Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling 1st - 3rd Grade (This is a book similar to the one for Asher. I really like this laid back approach to schooling because I'm finding that is what works best for us. I'm not investing in lots of work books this year because it seems like I spend most my time arguing with kids to get them to do them. It seems to work best when I just help them get excited about a project or a topic and then learn about it.)

Eggspert (This isn't specifically for Rose but I'm am excited about it. I LOVED buzzer games as a kid and was really good at them. I'm anticipating some good showdowns over spelling words and history facts with this thing.)

The thing I am most excited about though is our cabinet of curiosity! I've ordered a rock polisher and some insect pins and display boards and I plan on working on filling this up with treasures.

I've had this dream in my heart for the last few years of finding a cupboard (or something of the sort) to put in our garage as a "cabinet of curiosity." The very first museums were just people collecting things they found interesting and cataloging them. Awhile ago we read this book from the library and ever since I've dreamed about how wonderful it would be to have our own little museum to store all the treasures my kids find. I've been looking for a long time and hadn't found anything.

Then last week I drove home a different way then I normally do and this old dresser was on the side if the road for the garbage truck. I just about went crazy with excitement because it was exactly what I had dreamed of. We painted the mirror (which was unusable) with chalkboard paint and it now holds all our treasure, with lots of space for more! It makes me so happy. All last year I doubted if homeschooling was the best thing for our family. We started because Jon and I felt strongly that is what God wanted us to do, but whenever it gets hard (like this past year with a tough pregnancy) I start questioning that confirmation I got years ago. But then something like this happens and it is like God is telling me "Yes Heather, I see you, Yes I care about your children, Yes you are doing the right thing, and don't forget I'm helping you in this." Sometimes it astounds me how well he takes care of me.

I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions for home school ideas or what you are planning for this next school year! 


  1. I love reading the different things you are doing! I'm a DYT type 1 as well (I'm pretty sure I remember you saying you were) so committing to one specific curriculum makes me nervous because I know I'll want to bounce all over. However, I haven't "officially" homeschooled yet (I have a preschooler and a toddler and one on the way) so just doing a lot of playing and research right now. I love finding out about other gems! And that story of your museum moved me so so much. It truly is about the little glimpses of grace!

  2. Have you listened to Julie Bogart on Periscope (her website is She inspires me in homeschooling.

  3. I don't know what you folks do particularly for math, but I thought I'd mention Beast Academy if you haven't heard of it. Its math is much more challenging and fun than standard third grade math, and it has the awesome benefit that it's taught in comic book style. It's really fun for me and my third grader.

  4. Your cabinet of curiosity reminded me of the cabinet that Jo gave to her boys in Little Men. I've always wanted to do something like that for my kids too. Love how it turned out!

  5. Heather, I've been reading your blog for 6-7 years but I've never heard your voice. I don't homeschool, but I loved these videos because I felt like I was getting to know you better. It's so fun to put an audio voice to the written voice on your blog!