Homeschool AND Save Your Sanity (Homeschool Together)

Why we homeschool together

Our first year homeschooling, which seems like a million years ago now, was our hardest.  I did what we all do–I made it much more difficult than it had to be.  Even though we had fun, and it cemented our decision to do this thing, my stress level was through the roof.

Littles was entering 1st grade and Middle was entering 3rd.  And I had purchased E.D. Hirsch’s What Your First Grader Needs to Know and What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, and I was empowered with the tools to make sure the Littles knew everything they could learn.  Which meant while Middle did science I was teaching Littlest history and while Littlest did spelling I was teaching Middle vocabulary and so on and so on.  I was exhausted by the end of the day.  The only subject we did together as a family was reading.

Do you have any idea how time-consuming it was to plan two different history lessons and two different science lessons and two different English lessons and…

You get the picture.  Of course, it had to be done.  Because Littlest was in the very early learning stages of the English language and Middle had the basics down, so that class, at least, had to be separate.  And you know by now that I have never purchased a homeschool curriculum.  Rather, I do all the planning and legwork myself.  Can you say migraine?

The next year, I wised up a little.  We did history together.  It was so. much. easier.  On all of us.  The school day flowed better, I got rid of the headache, and the Littles got to actually enjoy each others’ company during school.

By the third year, I realized we could also do science together.  I realize I’m lucky that my boys are not quite 2 years apart in age.  Once they both had the basics covered, I could combine their classes a little at a time and neither of them suffered for it.  I have always tried to teach them above the public school level anyway, so Middle wasn’t learning in ways that were too juvenile for him and Littlest wasn’t being too challenged.

Why we homeschool together

Fast-forward several years.  Middle is in 8th grade and Littlest is in 6th.  Though technically you could say they are both in the 8th grade.  Because these days we do every. single. class. together.

And it is so much more fun for all of us.

This will be our first year doing math together.  It is the one class I’ve held sacred as separate because Middle is more advanced than Littlest for a couple reasons.  One, Middle excels at math where Littlest has an easier time writing (like his mama).  Two, just by the process of learning math through Saxon math books, Middle’s knowledge is more advanced.  But I’ve been working recently with a new homeschooling mama who has decided to give her high-schooler a consumer math class to prepare him for the future and that got me thinking.  I Want my boys to have a consumer math class, to know how to balance a budget, write a check, and all the financial things we grown-ups have to do.  So I decided to put together a consumer math class for our homeschool and let the boys do math together.

Of course, Middle asked if he could continue his algebra studies on his own.  Which gave me a brilliant idea–one independent elective for each of them.  Middle will do algebra.  Littlest has chosen to give himself a survival class.  We already have The Dangerous Book for Boys, which will be a good text for him to follow.  I also ordered The Boy’s Book of Survival for him.  Flipping through it I saw that there are lessons I can give him to make each chapter stick, so I’m down.  I thought it was a really cool elective to choose in any case.  He will be soooo prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

Especially if you’re planning your homeschool year all by yourself (but even if you purchase curriculum), when you homeschool together, you make it easy.  But that’s not the real benefit we get from this thing.  Rabbit trails, led by either boy, have become a regular part of our school day.  Laughter and encouragement are constant.  When one doesn’t understand something, the other jumps in and explains, often before I get the chance.  As I’ve watched my Littles settle in to a groove of learning together, I have watched them both blossom in ways that first separate year didn’t hold a candle to.  They are closer.  They have realized they can rely on each other.  They are quick to help each other deal with weaknesses and to encourage strengths.

Honestly.  I think they could almost do this thing on their own.  I’m feeling a little obsolete.

And that’s okay.  As they enter the high school years, they will probably decide more and more often that their interests lie in different areas and they will separate again.  While knowing they each have the other’s back.

Lucky for me, they’ll be old enough to do so independently, so I won’t have so much work to do.  Because whew.  I’m old and tired.

Love wins,


What to Read Wednesday – Alphabet

You know how much I love to help you figure out what to read in  your homeschool, so when the opportunity came up to co-host this amazing link party, I jumped in with both feet.  This week’s theme is Alphabet, and since you preschooling or kindergartening homeschool mamas might be struggling to find books to teach your littles the alphabet, I have searched my brain archives for the books I loved most, both when I was a little and when my littles were learning.

What to Read – Alphabet books

Dr Seuss's ABC - What to Read Wednesday

My favorite alphabet book as a child was Dr. Seuss’s ABC book.  Maybe it was because Seuss was the go-to children’s book author at the time, but I don’t really think so.  The rhythm and rhyme of this book still draws me in.  Plus, Camel on the Ceiling for C, and not too many books give your child both sounds for C, do they?  Seuss is still wildly popular today for a reason.  Part of it is his hilarious illustrations, and part of it is his penchant for making up new words, but mostly it’s just that he connects with littles in a way many grown-ups can’t.  And that makes learning the alphabet fun.

And that’s kinda the point, isn’t it?


The Very Hungry Caterpillar's ABC - What to Read WednesdayIf we’re going to talk about classic children’s book authors, we have to include Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s abc.  This one is simpler than Seuss’s, with just the letter, one of Carle’s brilliant illustrantions, and a word that starts with a letter.  But it works almost like flashcards, so it shouldn’t be ignored for its simplicity.  In fact, it should be applauded.  Used together, the two books could end up being all you need.


On Market Street - What to Read Wednesday

If you don’t know by now what a huge Arnold Lobel fan I am, you have not been paying attention.

Pay attention.

On Market Street is ingeniously illustrated by Anita Lobel, but that’s not the only draw here.  This book is so imaginative, your littles will barely notice they are learning letters. The premise is a person going to the shops on Market Street and buying the wares.  Each page features the letter and a word, but the picture is of a person Dressed In whatever was bought–even donuts.  An entire outfit made of donuts.

My favorite?  The outfit made of books, of course.  Your littles will be enraptured by the illustrations; I’m not making that up.


So Many Bunnies - What to Read WednesdayThere have been times when it felt like I had 26 kids rather than just 3, so I’m all full of admiration for Old Mother Rabbit.  She has 26 bunnies, and she has to put them each to bed.  Each bunny has a name that starts with a letter of the alphabet.  This book is both an alphabet and a counting book rolled into one.  While it doesn’t focus solely on the alphabet like the books above do, the illustrations are the kind that will entrance your littles for hours, and the gentle rhyming is brilliant.  Because how many different places can bunnies sleep?!  So you really should include So Many Bunnies in your alphabet library.

Jeepers Creepers ABC - What to Read WednesdayIf you have boys (or girls who like a good thrill), chances are pretty good they’re going to love this book as much as mine did.  Because monsters.  Because Ann has Alligator skin.  And Lucy’s tongue is 10 feet Long.  The monsters are funny, and the illustrations will have your littles in stitches, especially when–at the end of the book–they discover that the monsters are also reading a creepy crawly ABC–featuring humans!  This one is too cute.





The most popular post from last week was:

 Our Unschooling Journey Through Life:  Wonderful Wednesday Linky Party With OMHG!


And now for the link up!

What to Read Wednesday

Our hosts will still share a themed selection of our favorite books each week.

If you’d like to join us as a co-host for What to Read Wednesday, please contact Anne.
Anne at Learning TableLeah at Sandy Toes Creations
Crystal at Castle View AcademyGinny at Not So Formulaic
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This list has our book themes for 2016, but you don’t have to stick to that to link up–any family-friendly posts are welcome. So, come on! Join in the fun!

What to Read Party Details

If you’d like to link back to What to Read Wednesday, here is a pretty button for you!

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

Being the Crazy Book Lady

Crazy Book Lady ConfessionsDo you know what I love about what I do?

I Love Love Love being the Crazy Book Lady.

I know, there are plenty of us on the interweb.  I follow several, both on their blogs and social media, and I get a kick out of them daily.  But I get to be the Crazy Homeschool Book Lady, and that rocks.

See, throughout my life, no matter what role I’ve played–librarian, educator, working mom, stay-at-home mom, blogging mama, whatever–my favorite thing in the world has been introducing people to new books.  Telling someone about something I’ve read and seeing their eyes light up with interest is, bar-none, my greatest joy.  So when I took on this blogging thing, I had it in my head that while I wanted to help others ensure their homeschools included quality lit for their littles, I also knew I wanted to be that girl who got people reading stuff they’d never considered.

Being part of the 10 Days of Tips for Homeschool Moms series in mid-July gave me a unique opportunity to do that.  I knew there would a couple of books some of you had never heard of, but I was pleasantly surprised that a couple others were also new to some of you and that I reminded some of you of books you had forgotten about.

Did I say it rocks?  Because it rocks.

I’m always going to be the crazy book lady.  I’m always going to be here, cracking jokes while I help you find new books to read with your littles.  Sometimes I feel like everything in my life led to this blog.  Serendipity.  Punched me right in the gut and got me writing.

Well, okay, so I’ve always been writing.  But now you’re getting to read it.

Other Opportunities

Right now, I’m taking part in the Back to Homeschool Survival series with the Multi-Tasking Mom and several other bloggers.  Today, my post about How to Homeschool Without Buying a Curriculum is featured, so head over there and check it out.  But don’t miss the other featured posts in the series because they’re seriously awesome.

And there are several GIVEAWAYS to enter!!!

Back to Homeschool Survival Guide and GiveawaysMusic studies, penmanship packs, character lessons, a Math Mammoth bundle, essential oils, and a planning binder are all being given away, so get over there and Enter To Win!!!

Also, starting this Wednesday, July 27, I am going to begin co-hosting an amazing link-up called What to Read Wednesday, where not only will I recommend new books for your littles (I know, right?!), but you will find links to other mamas’ blogs where you’ll get  advice and ideas for this thing we call motherhood.  I’m really excited to be part of this and can’t wait to make it available to you, my lovely readers.

And a secret subscriber sale

To celebrate the success of all these series, I am having a secret sale on everything in the Lit Looking Glass shop through the end of the month, so sign up to get the coupon code and grab a novel study or two for the upcoming homeschool year!

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Make sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!

I appreciate you.  I guess that’s what I’m saying.  I’m so grateful that you take the time to read my advice and get pumped about new literature and homeschooling your littles.  Thank you for making this my life.

Love wins,


Little Women: Activities for Learning

Little Women Activities for Learning

You guys.  I love this book.

I mean, come on.  Strong female characters.  Girls who chase their dreams.  A beautiful family life.  And Christmas.  Sweet Christmas.  This is another one I like to read during the holidays and have read many times.  Because limes.

Okay, that’s not why, but I do love the limes scene.  I love all the scenes.  In fact, it’s hot and this book makes me think of winter, so I might start reading it tomorrow.

Limes, y’all.

Activities for further learning with Little Women

This one has been around a long time and I’ve read it many times and that combination means I have lots of great ideas to help your littles connect even more with the story of Jo and her sisters.  You’ll be sick of me in a minute.  But I’ll still be here, giving you ideas for making lit fun in your homeschool.  Just come back after you’ve heaved.

Diary entries

There are so many ways your little can explore their own feelings about this book through diary entries (and, of course, a printable for it in the free download at the end of the post).  Here are some:

  • How they feel when they want something they can’t afford to buy
  • What they would do if they had a Christmas or other holiday season without presents
  • How they would feel if they heard their friends saying negative things about them
  • What they want to do when they grow up and what they would do if they were told they could not do it
  • How grateful they would be for the feast Mr. Laurence sent to the Marches on Christmas night
  • What it would be like to be themselves all the time and not to behave as others expected
  • Conversely, what it would be like to never be able to be themselves and only do what was expected of them
  • How they would feel if they proposed to someone and were turned down
  • Whether or not they would struggle against anything to achieve their goals or give in to obstacles and choose other goals
  • How they would feel if they lost a sibling or dear friend


This book gives your littles a chance to learn about a completely different century from the previous two in this series.  Here are just a few topics they could cover:

  • The American Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Shakespeare
  • Greek myths
  • The language of flowers (there’s a printable for this in the freebie)
  • Scarlet Fever
  • Transcendentalism
  • Feminine roles in the 19th century
  • Paris

Write a letter

Again, there’s a page for this included in the free printables.  Writing these letters can help place your littles more solidly in the March’s world, where letter writing was commonplace.  Try one or more of these:

  • Letter to Marmee from Jo thanking her for all her guidance
  • Letter from one of the March sisters to Laurie to place in the mailbox
  • Letter from Jo to Laurie further explaining why she turned down his proposal
  • Letter from Jo to Aunt March  berating her for taking Amy to Paris instead of Jo
  • Letter from Mrs. March to the teacher about his punishment of Amy for the limes
  • Letter from Mr. Brooke to Meg proclaiming his love for her
  • Letter from Jo to Professor Bhaer asking him to come for her
  • Letter from one of the Marches to Mr. Laurence thanking him for his kindness
  • Letter from Laurie to Mr. Laurence explaining why he doesn’t want to go into business
  • Letter from Beth to Mr. Laurence thanking him for the piano
  • Letter from the March girls to their father begging him to come home


  • Why it’s more important to be a good person than to have fine things
  • Why it’s wrong to destroy someone else’s property in anger
  • Gender stereotypes-what they were like in the 19th century and what they’re like now
  • What it would be like to visit Paris with a rich relative
  • Why it was good for the March girls to take their breakfast to the Hummels
  • Taking care of elderly relatives and why it’s important even when it’s not fun
  • What to do when a family member becomes seriously ill

Crafts and other Art

  • Draw Orchard House
  • Make a cardboard mailbox and trade letters and treats with your family
  • Write a play with your family and act it out
  • Make Christmas cards (hey, it will free up some of your time in December)
  • Draw or arrange a bouquet of flowers to send a message to someone in the language of flowers


Just eat some limes, okay?  Or even pickled limes.  For me?  Trade them out to your friends.  You’ll be cool.

Make Apple Slump (I totally have to give you a recipe for this.  Because yum.)

What you need:

  • 3 cups sliced tart apples
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, cinnamon, salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

What you do:

  • Preheat to 350 F
  • Grease a 1.5 quart baking dish
  • Place apple slices, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp salt in dish
  • Bake apple about 20 minutes, until soft
  • While the apple are baking, sift together flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and sugar
  • Add beaten egg, milk, and melted butter, stirring gentle
  • Spread mixture over apples and bake another 25 minutes until brown and crusty

Don’t skip the sifting.  It’s a lost art, but it truly does make a difference in any crust or biscuit.  Plus, it’s pretty fun.


  • If you live in the northeastern U.S., visit Orchard House.
  • Make a family newspaper (template in printable)
  • Read Little Men, Jo’s Boys, or Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Learn to waltz
  • Make up your own pseudonym
  • Have a tea party
  • Read The Pickwick Papers.  Because Dickens

Don’t forget to pick up your subscriber freebie to go with this delightful book.

Little Women Printables

Today is the last day for 10 Days of Tips, so head over and check out 250 tips by some of the best homeschool bloggers around!  Also, it is the very last day to sign up for the $150 cash giveaway, so if you haven’t done so yet, you’d better do it now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 10 Days of Excellent Reading Material for Your Homeschool as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together for you.  If you missed any of the posts, click here and you’ll find links to all 10 of them.  In the meantime,

Love wins,





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