Free Fall 2014 Calendar Printable

Behind the scenes, I have been starting to plan out our fall semester.  One thing I wanted right away was a calendar packet. I made one last spring and found it really useful.  I printed out two copies. One is for our school schedule. I will pencil in our units and trips to see what the semester will look like.  The calendar includes various holidays since we’ll be reviewing some of the world religions.  I also printed out a set to help plan out blog posts… jotting down ideas in advance to help keep things organized and to see what’s coming up. Anyway, I thought I’d share these for anyone else who might be able to use them. They are free to download. :)

Free Fall 2014 Calendar Printable


If you found these useful, I’d love to hear from you over at our Homeschool Den Facebook page.

And speaking of planning, I have a new series starting on Wednesday called “Starting to Homeschool.” It includes how we got started on our homeschool journey as well as pointers for getting new (and experienced!) homeschoolers started, curriculum options, planning new units, back to (home)school shopping list and more.

How to Start Homeschooling


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Just Out in Nature!

Rivers, lakes, streams, ponds… we’ve enjoyed them all this summer!  The kids had a blast at our friend’s floating dock…

They got a real kick out of the fish who would come and nibble on their fingers and toes!

The kids have spent lots of time exploring and playing in the creek behind our house and looking out for critters. The tadpoles have turned into little froglets and the skinks are much larger now!

And the mushrooms are impressive (I guess that’s one benefit of the oppressive humidity, right?!)

Last Monday we spent a lot of time out along a nearby river:

So that’s some of mid-summer fun!  If you missed it earlier this spring, you might want to send the kids out on a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Here’s the free download:

You can download a copy of our Nature Scavenger Hunt here.

  • Photo Nature Hunt — I sent the kids out with cameras and had them take pictures of everything from a fence and stump, to another person’s hand and a flock of birds.
  • I made another Second Nature Scavenger Hunt that is a bit more challenging for the kids last year.  They spent close to three hours hunting for the creatures on this list… This second scavenger hunt is probably best near a creek/pond. We have one that runs through the back of our yard, so I had the kids try to find algae, a frog, toad or lizard, etc.

Be sure to come visit us at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.

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Egg-tivity: Seatbelt Safety to Protect an Egg

While LD was away at summer camp, the girls did a few egg-tivities of their own. First in preparation for the activity, they made their own pinewood derby cars (just kits that we got from Michaels).

Once the paint was dry and the wheels were on, I told them they had a challenge… to create a seatbelt safety system to protect an egg as the car traveled down our steep driveway.  DD experimented with a couple different options. First she tried using pipe cleaners:

When she couldn’t get the egg from popping forward, though, she opted for a rubber band system instead.

Although her egg stayed in place, her egg did not survive the bumpy ride down the hill. To be fair, though, her egg had a slight crack to begin with (from rolling off during the seat belt adjustment phase!).

She gave it a second go with a pom-pom addition (I”m not quite sure what the pom-pom was for)… but egg pilot #2 came to a bitter, sad end as well! She really had a blast with this activity despite the sad end for her eggs!

Meanwhile, ED declared she wanted a kitty to ride her car instead. Kitty made many, many safe trips down our driveway for an entire afternoon of fun! That’s what it’s all about, right?!!
If you’re looking for other egg-tivities, we had a ton of fun with eggs around Easter.  Be sure to visit those posts and download our entire Egg-speriment pack.


Have fun and see you next time! If you try these out at home, we’d love to hear from you at our Homeschool Den Facebook page!


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Summer Activities: Tie Dye Shirts

It’s not summer if we don’t do some tie dying!

Most every summer we get one of those kits to make our own tie-dyed shirts. The kids love doing this.  We used the Jacquard Tie Dye kit because it had such great reviews. The colors are definitely bright and vibrant. Our entire family aunts, uncles, cousins, kids were able to make shirts using this one kit. We had to buy the t-shirts separately.

It took about an hour and a half to get through everyone in the family twice.

You can roll the shirts up or just rubber band them into random knots. Either way the shirts really came out well!

We suggest that you rinse your shirts with a garden hose even before throwing them into the washing machine! There sure was a lot of dye that came out.

This is the kit that we got: Jacquard Tie Dye kit.

Product Details

Be sure to check out the entire Summer Activities SeriesWe have lots of indoor and outdoor activities to share with you all summer long – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays!

Clipart Image Credit: SweetClipArt

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Tags: | Categories: Arts and Crafts, Summer Activities

Shakespeare for Kids (Books, Audiobooks, etc.)

This summer we spent a couple of weeks reading and exploring some of Shakespeare’s famous tales. If you visit your local library you’ll find tons of Shakespeare books in the junior section. I thought I’d highlight some of the ones that we really liked.

Bruce Coville (author of the Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher) has retold a number of Shakespeare’s famous works. He incorporates famous lines into his own prose. This makes these stories more accessible to younger audiences.  My kids (the girls especially) liked the illustrations and the pictures helped keep even my youngest engaged in the story.


We also read a couple of stories from Usborne’s  Stories from Shakespeare. For example, we read “The Tempest.” The story was well written and story line was easy to follow. It has ten different stories including the famous ones like Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and more. There were a few spots where there were no illustrations which made it harder for my youngest, ED, to pay attention. I liked the book enough that I’m toying with the idea of buying it from Amazon just so I can have it on hand to read to the kids at the spur of the moment (educational yet entertaining).

Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams has a different approach to retelling Shakespeare’s stories. Her stories are presented almost in comic books style with 6-8 illustrations per page with some dialogue/prose to go along with each picture. Cartoon panels have direct quotations from the play and the author’s narration helps carry along the story line under each panel.  I asked DD to read “Hamlet” and asked for her opinion and whether she liked the comic book style.  She said she liked it and said the pictures were funny.

On one of our trips this summer, we listened to Jim Weiss’s audiobook stories: “The Taming of the Shrew” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The kids are quite familiar with his voice as he has produced The Story of the World Audiobooks and an audiobook about King Arthur that we liked a lot. The kids enjoyed these stories a lot. It’s not one we’ll listen to over and over, so I’m glad it’s at our local library to borrow once a year or so.  I also noticed he has an audiobook of “Romeo and Juliet,” but we have not listened to that.

We also borrowed two volumes of Shakespeare: The Animated Tales  from our local library. These once aired on HBO. The kids thought they were fine.  I wished we had read the Usborne story about “The Tempest” before we watched the animated tale. The written story went into more detail and would have helped the kids understand the storyline more.  When we cover other stories, I’ll definitely read a story before we watch the short video tales.

One book that DD really loved was a spoof of Romeo and Juliet called Romeow and Drooliet.  It was one of those books that she brought over and said, “You’ve got to read this.”  So for that reason, I’ll mention it to you all as well! (“It was weird,” she said, “but I liked it.”)  :)

There were some other Shakespeare stories retold by other authors, but they weren’t as appealing to our family so I won’t mention them here. But if you go to the 822 section of your library, I’m sure you’ll run across a number of Shakespeare books that might appeal to your kids! :)

If you have a recommendation, we’d love to hear from you over at our Homeschool Den Facebook page! Happy reading!


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