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Free Printable Recipe Cards and Stationary

28 Sep

I am delighted to share these two websites.

I don’t cook {very well}, but I love all the choices for personalized FREE recipe cards!  If I decide to compile future favorite recipes, I’ll head straight to this website and print off a few of their adorable templates.  The editable recipe cards cost approximately $7.

Now, this is a site after my own heart.  I adore writing.  I haven’t lost the desire to hand-write notes either.  I don’t like paying exorbitant prices for fancy stationary (although I always catch myself staring at new notepads or expensive letterhead in the stores), so when I discovered, I became giddy.  More to add to my collection!



Autumn Leaves

26 Sep

I stumbled across this activity online: Collecting Autumn Leaves.  It’s been hard to focus on the changing fall season in the south due to the hot, humid days!  I look forward to cooler days and crisp nights.  We recently took a nature hike, but I’m excited to take another and collect and record the different types of leaves.

The website, kidzone, contains templates for Ash, Birch, Elder, Maple, Oak and Poplar trees as well as a blank template for mystery leaves.  (One of these days, I’ll purchase a binding machine; this activity is perfect for making booklets!) 

Each template has a blank space for either drawing the leaf or applying a leaf rub or pressing.

Rather than printing all of the templates for the three girls, I simply right-clicked on the image and saved to my hard-drive.  Once we’re blessed with another beautiful morning and we get the itch to take school outside, the “Collecting Autumn Leaves” activity will be ready!

Free Stuff to Share

24 Sep

I want to pass along a few terrific links – all provide FREE STUFF!

If you’re new to homeschooling, need support or encouragement, or desire alternative, fresh ideas, check out this free digital download courtesy of The Old Schoolhouse.  The digital supplement introduces the basics to homeschooling, offers planning tips and covers topics for all grades – PreK through high school.

Homeschooling 101 Digital Supplement

The next link I discovered on Face Book.  All content is free.  Because curriculum can get expensive for four children, I appreciate the free, easily accessible activities.


Lastly, I wanted to post two web sites that offer Spanish for free.  Warning!  I haven’t spent a lot of time on these two sites, so I cannot say if either is truly helpful.  However, I’ve priced foreign language curriculum and I breathed a sigh of relief when my oldest didn’t seem very interested in learning yet!


learn Spanish today
Enjoy and happy weekend!

Review: Homeschool Tracker Basic Edition

22 Sep

I’ve been using the Homeschool Tracker Basic Edition tool for almost three weeks.  I love it! 

Before I downloaded the free version of Homeschool Tracker Basic, I’d print a blank schedule and hand-write each assignment.  Unfortunately, I began to drown in papers and preferred a software planner.

I use Homeschool Tracker Basic to record our weekly assignments, attendance, extra-curricular activities and field trip notes.

The main menu displays the school name and address, the student names, and days present or sick.  Homeschool Tracker Basic permits the user to record hours and grades, however, right now I only use the hourly feature for field trips, recess, reading and extra-curricular items.

There are eight additional tabs at the top of the planner window:

OVERVIEW– A snapshot of each student’s total days/hours per subject.

ASSIGNMENTS – I spend the majority of my planning time here.  I can browse by individual student or by the group.  I can also use the filter to view past due or future assignments.


  • The subjects can be customized.  While typing in the daily assignment, the user can specify the student, subject, resources and materials, time allotted, points to be earned and lesson information in the directions and notes fields. 
  • A copy feature enables the assignment to be scheduled for another student or used as a template for a future date.  This saves time and typing! 
  • Each assignment has a completion date and the ability to reschedule the task to a different date.
  • My first grader loves to read beginner chapter books to me, so I add a reading assignment for her and record the book title and author.  The assignment feature also gives the option to tag the book as borrowed material! 

ATTENDANCE – A monthly attendance calendar by student.  A single click allows the user to choose “present”, “sick” or “holiday”.

READING LOG – Track the student’s reading assignments.

FIELD TRIPS  – Add/Edit field includes the trip description, date, time spent, subject and a large note section.

DAILY JOURNAL – Automatically opens a new window for the current date.  Offers generous space for note-taking.

MAINTENANCE – Allows the administrator to change different tables such as: school info, activities, resource types, subjects, etc.

REPORTS – Choose a report type and date parameters.  I don’t know if I’ll use this feature during our school year or if I’ll wait to print specific reports to use as a permanent record at the conclusion of our learning levels.  Either way, I’ll share a sample report in a future posting.

Homeschool Tracker Basic Edition is easy to use, contains all the pertinent information in one tool and eliminates the need for a bulky binder and paper.  Best of all, Homeschool Tracker Basic is FREE!  I still spend approximately two hours each night prepping for the following school day (sigh) but Homeschool Tracker Basic certainly keeps my sanity in check.

C+ for Planning

3 Sep

Homeschooling year-round is tough.  I allotted three weeks to review, assess,  and purchase curriculum, clean and re-organize the classroom, gather the necessary supplies and prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the upcoming school year.  Three weeks sounded sufficient.  Then real life happened: a family member visited for one week, we chose to take a last-minute vacation and I stole one week to be still, relax and read.

Now, I’m beginning to panic.  I am not ready!

At the last minute, I discovered a terrific resource, The Core Knowledge SequenceA homeschooling mother and speaker at the Heart of the Matter 2010 conference, Karin Katherine, recommended the site and urged attendees to take advantage of the free downloads.  Once I saved the preschool and K-8th resources to my hard drive, I made a bee-line for the fourth grade core requirements.  And anxiety gripped me.

I decided in July to continue our current history and science textbooks since we didn’t complete all of the lessons.  Then I read the core scope and sequence resource and realized that my oldest should be learning the middle ages and the American revolution as well as the human body and chemistry.  Yikes!

I chose to use the core scope and sequence recommendations as an important road map.  While I don’t want to box us in, I also don’t want my daughter to struggle at taking the required standardized tests because we didn’t follow the general core competencies for her grade level.

Thankfully, another mother sent me an email newsletter highlighting Pandia Press’ R.E.A.L. (Read, Explore, Absorb, Learn) Science Odyssey and History Odyssey.  Her thorough review of R.E.A.L. Science (and yes, it includes the human body!) aided me in choosing our next curriculum.  Praise God that Pandia Press offers a free “try before you buy “ so we can critique the beginning science and history lessons and decide if this is the appropriate route for us.

So, here I am, waiting for additional textbooks and we are scheduled to begin our new school year on Tuesday!  Sometimes I work well under pressure – like frantically cleaning the classroom and guest room before my mother visited – but the current time crunch has me stressed and questioning my ability. 

I am trying to accept a C+ for my planning effort and not an F.  I understand that I can’t call myself a failure if I didn’t have all the information.  And in the darkest hours, I also understand that the negative whispers belong to Satan. 

When these doubts fester, I fall to my knees and pray.  Yesterday afternoon, I escaped to my room, fell to the floor and begged God to give me strength and to cleanse my mind of the negativity.  Only Jesus Christ can make a believer feel so much peace in the midst of anxiety and heartache!  Praise Him for all he does for me.  I want to please Him in my efforts.  I can accomplish this by praying, reading His word and ignoring Satan’s plea for me to take the easy road and quit. 

I must always remember that light conquers the dark.  While I may not earn an A for planning and organizing, my intentions for honoring Him in our Four Hearts Homeschool are honest and good.