FREE First Day of School Signs

Most parents adore these first day of school signs and I am one of those parents! Since I couldn’t ever find signs that are special to my children, I just custom made some myself. And because you are reading this post, you are lucky enough to get these editable signs for FREE!

If you love the signs and decide to use them publicly, all I ask of you is that you mention my blog (Raising Children and Chickens) wherever you post it online and leave my website link on the bottom of the sign! Also, please do not sell this sign anywhere.

You must be able to access Microsoft PowerPoint in order to download these files. Also, you may not have the same fonts that are used in these documents so feel free to change them as you like.

Our daughters first day of first grade!
Our son’s first day of (pre)Pre-School!

If you have trouble using these documents, I won’t mind a bit to edit the file for you and email it to you! Just leave a comment if you need help.

Please consider following my blog and pinning this post to your Pinterest board for future use!

Our HomeSchool Routine

Ever wondered what I do all day? Come on, I know y’all do! I’m a stay-at-home mom who also homeschools. That gives the impression sometimes that we stay in our pajamas all day and watch tv. That’s not the case here. We try to stick to a routine.

I am one of those people that firmly believe a routine is important with raising children. When routine is messed up, it’s almost like the house erupts into chaos and everything is unbalanced. Other moms may understand that kind of disruption. So, at all costs, I try to stick to our routine.

Here’s how our school days unfold:

7:00– Wake Up (Yes, we actually set alarms) , Get Dressed, Brush Teeth, Make Up Beds, Feed Pets

7:30– Breakfast

8:00– Clean Up Breakfast / Jessica goes upstairs to the classroom and does her calendar, timed Math Facts with Alexa, Cursive Letter Practice independently.

8:30– Bible

9:00– Circle Time / Both kids sit with me while we do a color song, president song, states, Spanish, sign language, shapes, pledges, and numbers. Jessica does a Books of the Bible review.

9:30– Science

10:00– History

10:30– Math / While Jessica does math independently, I do some work with Drake. Letter sound of the week, read a book, write his name, Letter of the Week bag, and sight words.

11:00– English

12:00– Lunch

1:00– PE / We go outside to play. Ride bikes, jump ropes, skating, sand box, basketball, soccer. Some days we stay in if the weather is unpleasant or we are sick.

1:30– Drake naps. / Jessica finishes up any leftover school work. If nothing is leftover, she does a whole level of ABC Mouse on the iPad. I use this time to do housework and this is my break time.

3:00– Free Time / Once a week, we use this time to do a science experiment from our Magic School Bus kit.

4:00– Cook Dinner

5:00– Dinner Time

6:00– Family Time with Bradley

7:00– Bath Time

7:30– Bed Time / Jessica usually gets to set a timer on her TV for 30 minutes and goes to sleep by 8:00.

Then we start all over! We stick to this routine even on the weekends. It’s what makes our days run smooth.

In the mix of all of that, I do bookkeeping and invoicing everyday for our business. Believe it or not, somehow I usually manage to get all of that done. I think the coffee helps me power through!

We homeschool with Alpha Omega Publishers LifePac Curriculum. There are 10 units per subject in her first grade set. Each unit takes about 3 weeks to complete. We do school the first 3 weeks of every month and the fourth week, we take a break. We also typically take off the whole month of July and December, but do school the first 3 weeks of all the other months. So with that routine, we get more frequent breaks and I have time to prepare for the next unit.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I get a small commission.

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How I Taught A HomeSchool Lesson While Hatching Eggs

(This post may have affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and purchase it, I receive a small commission.)

Honestly, this is probably hands down the most exciting lesson we’ve done. We did this last year while our daughter was in Kindergarten. She enjoyed it almost as much as I did!

Last September, we studied a lesson on how a chick develops within an egg. This wasn’t my first batch but it was the first time our daughter got to be involved. (She was adopted, therefore she didn’t get to see the past hatches.)

Here’s 8 Things You Need To Do This Lesson:

1. Incubator– First and foremost, you’ll have to purchase an incubator. You can get these at any farm store like Tractor Supply. The incubator I have used several times is the Little Giant Incubator with Egg Turner. Believe me, buy one with an egg turner! If you don’t, you’ll have to turn your eggs by hand daily and it’s not worth remembering to do that and risking the lives of your chicks!

This incubator has been great for me! I recommend it to anyone wanting a good incubator!

The Little Giant incubator we have can hold many eggs. If you just want a few chicks, I would recommend this one by Brinsea. I’ve heard great things about it.

2. Eggs– Once you get an incubator, you’ll need to find some hatching eggs. You can’t just buy eggs from the grocery store because those aren’t fertile. I’ve bought hatching eggs from EBay several times and had great experiences. Shipping eggs isn’t ideal because of post carriers shaking them too much. So if you are lucky enough to know a crazy chicken person, ask them if they can give or sell you some hatching eggs. Depending on the breed, you can buy eggs fairly cheap. Sometimes people even sell them on Craigslist.

3. Hygrometer– A hygrometer is a device that measures the humidity in a room. Don’t try to hatch eggs without one! I know this sounds optional but seriously, don’t risk it! This is the hygrometer that we used and I felt it did a great job. It tells the temperature and humidity in the incubator. To raise the humidity, you just add water to the bottom of the incubator. It’s essential to the chicks lives that the temperature and humidity stay consistent. Having one gives peace of mind without having to guess all the time.

4. Calendar– I printed off this cute hatching calendar by RazzleDazzleFarms.com every time I’ve hatched eggs. It helps me keep up with how many days are left and when lockdown should happen (when to take out the egg turner to prepare for hatch day).

You can see the calendar on the wall in this photo.

5. Lapbook & Timeline– I found this neat lapbook on Teachers Pay Teachers by Julie Davis. In it, our daughter was able to learn about oviparous animals and the life cycle of a chicken. She enjoyed it and it was a great part of the lesson.

I also found this timeline on Teachers Pay Teachers by Undercover Classroom that we put on the wall. It gave a great visual for her learning process.

Both of these sets were very cheap, costing only $4 each.

6. Warmer– Chicks will need some place to go after hatching in the incubator. This warmer is the best! I didn’t know about it the first time I hatched chicks and had to use a heat lamp. Sadly, that heat lamp killed some of my chicks by getting them too warm. That was a mistake I regret even today. But this warming plate doesn’t get too hot. The chicks go right under it and they stay warm. The legs on it make it raise higher as they grow taller. Best investment for my chicken hobby ever!

They make the same warmer but with a shield on top to keep the chicks from getting on it like this one. I didn’t purchase that one but I wish i would have. Instead, I just clean it occasionally.

Our chicks eating and drinking!

7. Waterer/Feed– Of course the chicks will need feed and water. I’ve always used this waterer for my baby chicks since it small. When they are real young, I put marbles in the water to keep them from falling in and drowning.

I always buy the medicated chick feed. I wouldn’t suggest getting non-medicated feed.

8. Safe Brooder Box– Once the chicks hatch, they will need a safe and warm place to grow after the incubator. I’ve always used a big Rubbermaid tote or a HUGE box. But they do have some made especially for this. I’ve heard this dog playpen was a good idea and I considered purchasing it the last time we hatched. I foresee me doing it next time!

Just make sure it’s safe and away from other pets or wildlife. Keep your own cats and dogs away from it and make sure they wouldn’t be able to break into it. We’ve had to be cautious of this each time.

Obviously, you’ll need a home for the chicks when they are grown such as a coop and nesting boxes. But this short list will get you started!

Me candling our eggs to show our daughter the chick growing inside.

All this talk about incubating is giving me the itch to hatch some more!

Happy hatching!

Why I Use ABC Mouse To Help Me Home School


ABC Mouse

(I DO NOT make a commission from these links. ABC Mouse doesn’t have an affiliate program. But if you feel inspired to try ABC Mouse because of this post, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment!)

We started using ABC Mouse a couple years ago before we decided to homeschool. My daughter was four at the time and enjoyed the program. But at the time, we put our money into curriculum’s and gave ABC Mouse a break.

Our daughter is now in first grade and our son is almost three so I thought we would try it again since both children could access it. It’s been several months with ABC Mouse and it seems like they have updated it some! Both of our children play it daily and really enjoy their new apps that now come with it!

What is ABC Mouse?

ABC Mouse is an educational subscription for young children ages 2-8. Geared mainly for preschoolers but it’s for all early educational levels up to grade 2. Our daughter is half way through the first grade learning path and she still loves it. Our son is currently two but will be three in another month. He enjoys the app as well!

Here’s 7 Reasons Why Our Kids Love ABC Mouse:

(And why I love it too!)

    1. Interactive- It’s interactive and interesting! The graphics and story lines are enough to hold their attention. Very colorful and hundreds of things they can interact with.

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    2. Assessments- They have a new feature that allows you to have each child tested on certain areas in their grade level. And if they don’t pass, it gives them several activities to do to help them with that topic. They do charge extra to have the assessment feature. Since we homeschool, I feel its relevant to us to have that feature available.

Our daughter doing an assessment on time-telling.

     3. Apps- This is probably mine and their favorite feature. I don’t remember them having this a couple years ago! But if you are a subscriber with them, you can download several apps for free that go along with their program. Our kids absolutely LOVE their Magic Rainbow Traceable app (even our two year old)! I LOVE that it has cursive tracing for our daughter and they can practice tracing basic sight words.

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Our two year old tracing his favorite letter on the Magic Rainbow Traceable App that comes with ABC Mouse! This app allows cursive practice too!

    4. Doesn’t Cost Too Much- I understand that it’s definitely not free and there is certainly things online that you can get for free. BUT- our children absolutely LOVE the iPad’s. And as a parent, I feel guilty for letting them have too much technology time! By letting them have access to only educational apps, it makes me feel better about technology time AND it does help them learn while I can do other household duties! Having an educational app that doesn’t have ads is worth gold to me! And because we homeschool, paying the extra money for educational programs doesn’t bother me much as long as it’s working for them.
    They always offer the first month FREE! After that, subscriptions are less than $10 per month! They sometimes give deals if you pay for six months or a year all at once. We paid for the six month package.
    5. Incentives- For every learning activity that they do, they get tickets. They can choose to spend those tickets on fun things for their digital room, hamster, and other fun things. My daughter has literally more than 1,000 tickets she can spend but she loves the activities so much that she would rather do those!

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You can see here how many tickets my daughter has collected.

    6. Learning Path- I love how they show a learning path on this program. It gives me a chance to tell my children how far they need to go each day. My daughter is required to do one whole learning path (to the next page) each day during our down time. When she completes that, she is allowed to spend tickets or play educational games and apps on ABC Mouse.
    7. Offline Activities- This is a favorite of mine as well. You can’t access all of ABC Mouse’s features without internet BUT there are several things they can do while offline. I love this for when we are homeschooling in the car or at our parent’s cabin with no internet.

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Our daughters learning path. Notice the bar at the bottom showing how she is half way finished with their first grade curriculum.

        1. They do give discounts for homeschoolers if you sign up for an annual subscription. I was offered one the first time we tried it out but didn’t use it. I will be asking for a new code to try it this time though! Here is the link to their
    1. Homeschool Page.
      1. Have you been thinking about trying
  1. ABC Mouse
    1. ? It doesn’t hurt anything to take advantage of their first month free deal! I have a feeling you will love it as much as we do!

How I Use Amazon’s Alexa To Help Me Home School

(This post contains affiliate links. By signing up under my link, I get a small commission.)

If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you’ve certainly heard of the gadget Amazon has created called Alexa. We never heard of it until a couple Christmas’s ago when our parents gifted us one.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to hear of it, let me fill you in. Alexa is a speaker and/or video device that you can ask questions, play music, make video calls, play shows, etc. The options it can provide are endless. To relate, Alexa is much like iPhones Siri. Learn more about Alexa here.

We have the first one they created that is basically just the speaker tower like this one. This Christmas, we were gifted by our parents the newest one like this one called Amazon Echo which is a speaker and video screen. I’ve also ordered this cheaper and smaller Echo Dot to put in our daughters bedroom. I’m really looking forward to it coming in.

Here’s how I use Alexa to help me homeschool:

(Even if you don’t homeschool, these are ways Alexa can help you in your home or with your children!)

  1. Timer– You can say “Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.” My daughter uses that when she is doing her math facts everyday. She gets 5 minutes to complete 100 problems. I bought two different cheap timers you can get at the store and neither worked properly.
  2. Alarm Clock– You can say “Alexa, set an alarm for me.” I plan to use this on my new device for my daughters bedroom to wake her up on school days. And they have some cute alarm sounds!
  3. Intercom– You can have Alexa send a voice message from one device to another in your house. So, for example, if my daughter is upstairs in the classroom finishing some work and lunch is ready downstairs, I can tell Alexa to announce on all the devices that “lunch is ready, come eat”! (You have to own more than one Alexa for this to be an option.)
  4. Amazon Storytime– Alexa also has skills you can enable through the Alexa app. If you enable the skill “Amazon Storytime”, she will read your children a story. It’s actually really cute!
  5. 1-2-3 Math– This is also another skill you can enable through the app. If you tell Alexa to open 1-2-3 Math, you can pick a difficulty level and she will ask your child math questions. I use this during our down time like when we are waiting on lunch to finish cooking. There are more math apps she can play as well, but I like this one the best.
  6. General Questions– Alexa can answer any general questions we might have while learning. If we aren’t certain what season it is, or the date when doing our calendar, or the capital of a state, we just ask Alexa. With our Amazon Echo Show, she can play educational videos for us or show images.

Other benefits of Alexa:

  1. Playing music– This is my favorite ability of Alexa. I like it even better on the Amazon Echo Show because it shows the lyrics on the screen. You know what makes cooking meals everyday not so boring? Dancing to music with Alexa!
  2. Video & Voice Calling– My children especially love this feature. They are able to see their grandparents from a different state while they talk to them. My daughter also gets the opportunity to see and talk to her pen pal!
  3. News & Weather– Want to know the headlines in the news or what the weather is like today? All you have to do is ask her! How convenient!

This is only a small list of how we use Alexa during school and personal time. She has so many capabilities and some I haven’t even learned yet!

Do you use Alexa while you homeschool? If so, tell me how you use Alexa! I’m always looking for new ways to have her help me!

*It would mean a great deal to me if you followed me on Pinterest! Search for Raising Children and Chickens and click follow. *

How I Home School During Bath Time

(This post contains affiliate links. By signing up under my link, I get a small commission.)

Bath time is the perfect time for lessons! It is a great way to teach them while they are contained to one area and can’t easily run away. AND there are so many educational toys for bath time. We have bought a few and here are my favorites!

Our son had a strong desire to learn things early on. I realized this and took full advantage of it.

Super Why was his favorite show to watch. And I credit a lot of his knowledge on the alphabet to that show. We bought him the DVDs and he watched it on PBS kids a lot. Once I seen him repeating the letters at just one year old from that show, I bought him these foam letters from Amazon to play with in the bath. Those foam letters are still part of our home school curriculum and they only cost $5! 

Every night while bathing him, we would practice those letters. Mainly it involved me holding up a letter and saying what it was. Eventually, he started doing the same thing. He would hold up a letter to show me and then say the letter.


Pretty soon, he could recognize them all but not yet say all of them. I could ask him where a letter was and he could easily find it for me. For example, I would ask him “Where is the letter K?” and he would hold it up or point to it. He really loved doing this every night.

I also printed off and laminated some Alphabet cards. The free Alphabet cards came from one of my favorite blogs- 123Homeschool4Me.com. She has tons of neat printable’s and ideas for your little ones. And if you don’t have a laminator, I would recommend this one to anyone I know. It has been the best and I use it all the time!

I put those cards on the wall for him to look at so he could learn both uppercase and lowercase letters. He loved it! I left those cards up for several months until I painted that room.

Now that he knows them all, he’s gotten bored with it and we’ve moved on to doing a foam United States puzzle in the bath. He really enjoys it and can identify about five states so far!

Other bath items we have used are:

  • The bath spout cover– This thing has saved our kids from scratched up backs many times. 
  • Sensory Development Toy– Both of my kids have enjoyed this toy! We’ve talked about the different colors, the wheels, the eyes, and practicing how to pour water.

Doubting if your toddler could learn the alphabet and states this early? Don’t! It’s possible. Young minds are literally like sponges. They soak up everything! And with a continuous lesson such as bath time, your little one could learn this in no time!

Why Hen Saddles?

Ariel, why are you dressing up your chickens? Ariel, why do your chickens have shirts on? Ariel, now I think you’re crazy.

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Yes, my chickens wear saddles. I’m fully aware that it looks like I’m dressing up my chickens. And to be honest, that’s a benefit of them because it makes them look so darn cute! Am I right? But this post is for all those people who have asked me those questions and looked at me so funny.

Hen saddles serve a very important purpose for my girls. And not every chicken owner has to utilize them. I found out the hard way that my girls needed them when we hatched some and ended up with two roosters.

Since I have a small flock, the roosters over-mate the ladies. If you don’t understand that process, let me just add that when a rooster fertilizes the hens egg, he mounts on top of the hen. That mounting from their feet or even spurs can cause their backs and wing tops to go bald. If left without a saddle, the hen could possibly die from wounds created by the roosters feet. Sunburn was a big problem in my hen.

My girl, Henny Penny, was the favorite one among the flock for a long time. Poor girl was practically bald on her back and wings for several months. She has gashes in her sides because she no longer had feathers to protect her. After this seasons molt and her saddle keeping her protected, she now has brand new feathers in and looks glamorous!

Henny Penny showing me her bald wing.

After her injury, I realized that she quickly needed a saddle so she would start healing. My go-to place is Amazon. That’s where I quickly found this saddle with wing guards for her. 

Once it came in and I researched saddles, I knew I was going to eventually need them for all my hens. I decided to learn how to make them myself since it would be cheaper. (At that time, I had 18 hens.) I sewed each one a different patterned saddle. No more bald chickens around here! Instead, they all look very stylish!

I would be thrilled to make some saddles for your hens! Here is the link to have some custom made.

If you’re hens wear saddles, I would love to know how your experience has went! And if you don’t have hens, #1 you are really missing out and #2 I hope you learned a thing or two from this post!

AOP LIFEPAC

(This post contains affiliate links. By signing up under my link, I get a small commission.)

When we first decided to home school, the first thing I did was research curriculum. Did you know there are SO many different types of curriculum you can buy for homeschooling? It was rather overwhelming. I spent days researching the different sets. But I kept finding myself going back to the same website because I felt like they had a set that would suit our daughter for Kindergarten.

If you haven’t heard of Alpha Omega Publishers, then you may not know about this curriculum. They have a few different sets but I seemed to like their LifePac set better than the others.

Here’s what I liked about LifePac and why I continue to use that set:

  1. They are affordable.
    1. Almost every set I researched was pricey. I had my budget set to spend no more than a few hundred on a curriculum. Their Kindergarten set only included Math and Language Arts but it was only priced at $99. I know that there are some free curriculum’s out there, but I felt better prepared if I had something laid out for me. I believe this set did a great job in helping my daughter for Kindergarten and I plan to use it again for our son in a couple years.
  2. They are Bible-based.
    1. When we officially decided to home school, we agreed that one of the main benefits of homeschooling was the fact that we could teach our children about God. So when I was researching curriculum, it had to be Bible-based. LifePac does a great job at discussing God throughout all their subjects, not just their Bible subject.
  3. They are student-led.
    1. The curriculum is designed to allow students to work independently. We are currently in their first grade set and my daughter can work independently most of the time. That’s a huge benefit to me since we have more that one child and I can’t be by her side constantly.
  4. They have great support.
    1. There was a time I had a question about the science materials and when to use them throughout the year. I was surprisingly amazed at how quick and friendly they were in helping me.
  5. They have kid-friendly content.
    1. The stories and graphics in this curriculum seems to be very up-to-date and interesting for my six year old. She seems to enjoy the books and pictures which is helpful in keeping her interested.

We plan to use LifePac again for second grade. I have no desire to switch curriculum’s anytime soon. As long as it keeps working for my daughter and me, then we will stick with their curriculum.

If you are looking into homeschooling your kids and you have been looking for a curriculum, try researching Alpha Omega Publishers LifePac set. I don’t think you will be disappointed. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me!

Our daughter showing off her Math quiz.

Fox Attack

*This post contains graphics photos.*

We live outside city limits, but not too far. Our backyard is next to some wooded area. I’ve known that there were risks to letting my flock free range, but I felt like they were pretty safe when I was home and able to watch them.

Here is Jade several months before her injury showing off her custom made saddle:

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On Christmas Eve, I let my flock out to roam the yard after lunch time like I always do. I knew I would be home all day and we would have a lot of company over so I felt like the risk of having an attack from a wild animal was slim. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and of all days, on Christmas Eve.

I just so happened to walk and look out the window at just the right time. I saw something holding a chicken in its mouth. At that moment, I screamed and yelled “FOX”. My husband heard and right then went to grab a gun. For some reason, I grabbed a broom and went running outside barefoot. I didn’t get far before my husband shot at the fox. The fox dropped my hen and I took off after her.

I found her in a puddle of cold water bleeding. By the looks of it, I didn’t think she was going to live long. I carried her back to the house to examine her and from what I could tell at that point, was that her wing was damaged badly.

I immediately wrapped her in a towel and put her in the garage to rest. Shock can kill a chicken quickly so I knew she needed to be alone for a while.

Every time I worry about my chickens, I reach out to my friends on a Facebook group called “Chicken Butts and Crazy Clucks”. They have helped me learn about chickens so much! If you own chickens, this is the group you want to be in for advice (and you will need advice eventually)!

Here is the link to their group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1133694943320922/?ref=share

The photos coming up involve an injured chicken and blood.

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With advice from fellow chicken lovers, I got a solution they call Dakin’s and began spraying it on her wound three times a day. After two days, she began to smell horrible. I suspected that her wound was probably getting infected. I could tell that her wing was definitely broken and that I wasn’t going to be able to wrap it in hopes of it healing. I knew what needed to be done but I couldn’t stomach the idea of trying to do it myself. That wing needed to be amputated.

Luckily, I was able to find a vet that would help chickens. Three days after the attack, I took her in and had the wing amputated. To my surprise, she did remarkable and looks so much better!

Pictures after the wing amputation:

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Today is day one after the surgery and she is still doing great. I foresee her making a full recovery and those feathers covering that bald patch in no time.

I will be custom making her a new saddle soon. Once it’s done, I’ll update this post.

How I Decorated Our Home School Classroom

When we moved into our current house, I was desperate to have a room dedicated to homeschooling. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a paint roller and make the room above our garage a classroom! Eventually, I was able to find time to start on it and even though it’s not completely finished, I cant wait to start using it!

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It may not look like a traditional classroom but when you only have two students, it doesn’t have to. It’s worth mentioning that one student is a toddler, hence the toys.

We plan to begin school in our updated classroom on January 7th following our holiday break. What makes it even more special is that the toddler will be doing some lessons too!

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I’ve created a weekly focus board for both children but mainly for the toddler. They will be learning the presidents and states each week on top of their normal curriculum.

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I’m certain we will all enjoy the new space!