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.
Most of last year we did upgrades to our house. One of those was our patio. We never used it and it was sort of an eye sore. So we framed it in and turned it into our homeschool room and office for me. This worked out much better because it was on the ground floor and closer to everything in the house.
I was able to design it the way that would work best for our family. We bought new desks to use in the room. All the desks were bought on Amazon. The kids love their desks and I love that the desks will grow with them (raise up). If you have thought about getting a desk for your child, I would recommend these!
I tried to make use of every space in that room since it was a small room. Instead of a whiteboard, I just bought a dry erase decal to stick on the wall at sitting level. Now, my 7 year old practices her spelling words and my 3 year old practices letters. It worked out so much better than I pictured!
Later on, I added this decal above the door. Oh, the Places You’ll Go kind of tied into my theme of traveling the world.
Overall, we enjoy all aspects of the room so far and look forward to using it everyday!
*I DO NOT receive a commission from these affiliate links. Click on them all you want!*
We have been a homeschool family for about four years now (preschool through second grade) and I have been asked countless questions. I try not to take offense to some but rather use it as an opportunity to educate. Not very many people choose this route of education for their children, therefore they make assumptions.
Here we go:
1. How long do you plan to homeschool?
This is the most popular question I get. And my answer has always been the same, “I don’t know.” There could be many challenges thrown our way in life where we would have to put our children in public school. I am grateful that there is always that option in case something happened. I could get terribly hurt or sick, our finances could plummet, my kids may chose to go to public school, and many other factors. I can’t guarantee anything when it comes to this. If I had it my way, I would love to continue homeschooling until my children graduate.
2. What kind of social activities do your children receive?
This one blows my mind. I get that this is a common concern with homeschooling but it gets under my skin sometimes. Yes, we do “social activities” but not near as much as a public school student would get. Is that wrong? Not in my opinion. I talk with my children 24/7. They are receiving verbal communication with other people. What I love most about homeschooling and socializing is that I get to choose who they socialize with! I get to choose their groups of people they communicate with. I know that they are hearing and speaking with people who will build them up and be kind to them. We spend time in Girl Scouts and church. Our children do not need to be around twenty children their age daily in order to have socialization.
3. What curriculum do you use?
The curriculum we use is the LifePac series by Alpha Omega Publishers. We have continually used this curriculum since Kindergarten. I did a blog post on this in the past. You can find that here. We love this curriculum! It is affordable for us and its student-led. Being student-led really helps me as a teacher. Jessica is able to do the majority of her lessons alone with little help from me. Kindergarten involved more of my time, but after she learned to read, she was able to do a lot of it independently. I plan to use this curriculum for as long as it works for us!
4. Do you homeschool all year?
Yes and no. It mainly depends on our year. Most of the time, we do! BUT…we take more frequent breaks than public schoolers. The LifePac curriculum is broke down into 10 units (except Kindergarten). One unit typically takes one month to complete. The way we break it down is easiest for us but doesn’t have to be this way for everyone. We do one unit the first three weeks of every month and the fourth week is our “break week” before starting the next unit. Week 1, 2, & 3 we do one whole unit (all subjects). Week 4, we rest and I prepare for the next unit. So we typically will do a unit starting in August and go all the way to May. Then we do a light break throughout the summer. Honestly, my children will learn year round because I use every opportunity to teach them when the conversation arises.
5. Do you like homeschooling?
Yes! I LOVE being able to stay home with my children and teach them what I feel is important. My husband feels the same way. It helps so much to have a spouse who agrees with this way of life. I love being able to use my degree to teach my own children. I love being able to teach my children from the Bible! I love to know where my children are at all times and how they are learning. If they are struggling on a subject or topic, I am the first person to know and the first person to help them. We are able to learn at their pace and we can always slow down or speed up depending on their current knowledge of a topic. I feel like they learn 100% better from their mom than they would with a different teacher and a classroom full of kids.
Do I always enjoy it? Honestly, there are times when its hard. There are times when my patience has vanished. There are times when I don’t feel motivated but I do it anyways. It’s become my job. I invest so much time and energy into my children’s education that it becomes overwhelming at times. I know that their future depends solely on me. I don’t take that lightly. I would never want my children to look down on me for not teaching them something they should have learned. But, every job well done can be stressful. It’s just part of it! The advantages outweigh the disadvantages and the stress is worth it to me!
6. How do you do it all?
I can’t help but laugh every time I hear this one. I am amazed too! I have no clue how I do it all. Maybe its the coffee and prayers!
Our school days typically start around 8 or 9 in the morning. We always get dressed before school. We aren’t the PJ homeschoolers. It usually takes 3-4 hours to complete the days school work. Some days more, some days less. Since LifePac is student-led, I am able to do bookkeeping for our plumbing and rental businesses while we home school. It involves a whole lot of multitasking but I somehow manage. After school is finished, I switch roles and do housework while the kids play. The afternoons are spent with family. We never do school work in the afternoons. Another benefit of homeschooling, no “homework”! Technically, all of our work is homework but we just get it all done during typical school hours.
There are days when I don’t do it all. The house sometimes looks pathetic. Laundry that needs to be folded just has to wait a whole week. Dishes have to wait until nighttime. The floors just get cleaned when I have spare time. But that’s because I feel like their education is more important than daily folded laundry or an always spotless floor.
7. How can you stand to be around your kids all day?
I sometimes take offense to this question. I probably shouldn’t but it sort of makes me think that my kids are just horrible to be around all the time. I absolutely LOVE being with them all day! I always wanted to be a mother and I knew I would be like this when I became one. My husband knew as well. It doesn’t bother me. Instead, I sometimes ask “How can you NOT want to be around your kids all day?” I find joy with my family. I involve them in everything I do. I cook, they cook. I clean, they clean. I play outside, they play outside. We do life as a family!
8. Why do you homeschool?
We homeschool because it works best for our family. Easy as that. We feel like our children learn best when they are learning from us and getting one-on-one instruction. We love the advantages of homeschooling. Our children are rarely sick, they are always safe at home, they are learning from their parents instead of someone else or other children, they are not bullied, and they learn about God everyday! There are 10x more advantages than disadvantages from our standpoint.
9. How much does it cost?
This question just depends on what curriculum you decide to use. I believe that you could manage a free curriculum for preschool and kindergarten. It would be more difficult to manage a free curriculum for higher grades. You would spend many hours searching sites to get free worksheets and things to print.
We use Alpha Omega’s LifePac series. You can read more about their curriculum here. They offer sample pages in each subject to look at.
Their Kindergarten set is the cheapest at $98.95. The kindergarten set only involves 2-subjects: Math & English.
Their First Grade set is probably one of their more expensive sets at $413.95 because it comes with several reading books and five subjects.
I typically buy new curriculum each December when they have a Christmas sale. This year, I will be purchasing the Third Grade set valued at $314.95 as well.
Each curriculum is priced differently. There are more expensive brands and there are some that are lower. This series fits our budget and works well with our children.
10. Is it difficult to get started?
Nope. In Arkansas, its rather simple. All you have to do to get your child started is register them and start a curriculum! If you live in Arkansas, you can click here to fill out the notice of intent. You have to register before August 15th of every year. They have a form you can submit online or one by paper. I always register online sometime in July. Later on, they will send an email sometime in August that your form was submitted and registered.
If you have found this helpful, please leave a comment! If you have more questions, I would love to help you! I love talking about homeschooling!
Y’all. I’ve had a crazy, stressful few months. I’ve taken up a babysitting gig for the summer on top of my already busy schedule. But, God is reaching out to me through it all and I’m gaining friendships that will last. I honestly believe that God sometimes gives you more than you can handle because He wants you to reach out to Him. And I’ve been doing just that.
During all of the chaos, my beloved Frizzle hen (Jane) was killed by a raccoon.
And it broke me. It wasn’t easy. I shattered. I ugly cried. Heck, I’m crying now because it’s resurfacing. That crazy chicken was my favorite. She was special to me. Her mom was one of my first chickens and she was also killed by a raccoon. But before she was killed, I was incubating some eggs and one of her eggs was in the bunch. I was so surprised to find one of her babies after her mom died. From then on, we all got attached to her. She was spoiled!
I told my husband I was DONE with chickens because the raccoons were fierce and I couldn’t protect them. I had homes for them that following weekend!
Y’all….this man told me that I wasn’t giving them away and demanded I message a handyman to build me a coop and fence for the yard! We had workers in our yard the next morning!
He instructed me to design a coop on paper the way I wanted it and print some pictures for the workers. I spent a couple days doing that while they built the fence.
Once I was happy with my design, I showed them and they built it exactly like I wanted. It’s strong and raccoon/fox proof! This coop is a palace for my chickens! They are happy hens and it makes me giddy inside!
It still needs a permanent roof on it and some little things that I want tinkered with, but I’m happy that they are safe!
Don’t be surprised to see baby chicks soon! I’ve already got some coming! The more the merrier, right?
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
8:00– Clean Up Breakfast / Jessica goes upstairs to the classroom and does her calendar, timed Math Facts with Alexa, Cursive Letter Practice independently.
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.
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.
(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).
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.
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.
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!
All this talk about incubating is giving me the itch to hatch some more!
(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.
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. 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.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!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.
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
(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!)
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.
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!
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.)
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!
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.
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:
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!
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!
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. *
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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!
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!
Ariel, why are you dressing up your chickens? Ariel, why do your chickens have shirts on? Ariel, now I think you’re crazy.
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!
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!