Tag Archives: experience based learning

My (Fantasy) Homeschool Planning Steps

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This was a post that I created last school year, shortly after the year got underway…(had to have been October 2014 since I make mention that my daughter wasn’t yet 14) and I was all gung-ho still and things were going spiffy with my new Experience-Based Learning system. I wrote it in anticipation of how I was going to be doing my planning….and never published it because it never actually happened this way, LOL!

BUT…I think there’s some value in the info below…I’m now going to take this fantasy plan, tweak it to the new year and TRY TRY AGAIN!!!

What do you think? Is there something here that might be useful to you? Might you find some idea that you could use in the upcoming new school year to help with your own planning? Have at it!! I wish you well! And leave me a comment below if you do make good on YOUR plan! You’ll be one step ahead of me!!

Now, on to the fantasy…….  *cue sparkly harp music*

P.S. See notes in red italics for the updates.


I saw a discussion on Facebook recently asking fellow homeschoolers how they do their homeschool planning, and it occurred to me that writing out my steps might be helpful to other homeschoolers looking for guidance.

IMG_3256.JPGSo, here it is, my planning routine! Mind you, I am not organized enough to do this every single weekend…and often I just do the most crucial and get to the rest when I get to them…and luckily most of my stations don’t require rebooting every single weekend. Some can actually last weeks! But for the weekends that I do need to do a bit of everything needed, I try to follow this routine:

  1. Correct all math work from the week and go over with kids. (Hopefully I’ve not fallen behind on this during the week…but knowing myself all too well, I realize I’m often behind on correcting math. So I just plan it into my weekend to catch up.) Nope, never happened regularly, though I did do this often. Go, me! What ended up working was just doing my son’s as he completed his work, and giving my daughter the answer key to correct her own. Pre-algebra! Better that she saw her mistakes immediately and figured them out as she went then wait for unreliable mom to get around to checking her work.
  2. Check kids’ journals and checklists from the week, and correct any mistakes.  AsIMG_3264.JPG part of our homeschooling, each of my children has a notebook that I ask them to write all that they are doing for their stations, enrichment classes, and field trips, etc.  Anything we’d consider “school” related. Just a short description. So at this time I check that the items they checked off as done in their checklists correspond to a IMG_3266.JPGjournal entry. My younger (9yr old), I am ok with just a line…my nearly 14yr old, I ask for more details. She often will do a paragraph or 2, unless she’s having a bad day.Sometimes one or both of my kids forget to journal about what they did for a particular day, so I try to get them to fill in the missing info over the weekend, as possible. Also: Sometimes I feel like an activity needs more info from my younger, so I’ll have him write the first part (The date, what he did) and then dictate to me more info and I’ll write that in his journal for him.  After Dec my son switched to blogging instead of journaling (an option I gave him since he prefers typing over writing)…and it was a constant struggle to get him to even do that…my daughter actually did a bang up job of journaling all year and filled her entire journal with very little prompting from me! SCORE!  I did pitch the checklists mid-year though….they ended up being a waste of paper.
  3. IMG_3259.JPGGet math packets and stations checklists rebooted and ready for the new week. I have their Math Mammoth worktext pages in packets of 5 pages, one for each day of the week. They don’t always get them finished each week, though. If they finished a packet, they need a fresh one on their math clipboard. And every week they need a new, fresh, checklist ready for the new week. This was actually not a problem. I just did as needed, and ditched the checklists.
  4. Find any new artwork and hang. I try to hang as I go, but often neglect to do so…so I added this into my weekend plan so that I make sure to gather those things up and display. We have a huge bulletin board for smaller things, and a fishing line all along the ceiling for hanging their art work for display. Yeah, never did this.
  5. Go through “create” station drawers, reboot, replace as necessary, taking out and putting away any unused materials. Check our shelves for books with activities that we could use in the new week, as well as Pinterest. Print/copy instructions as needed. Make sure there’s at least 5 drawers that are totally ready to go for creative projects for the upcoming week. Also add all needed supplies to a shopping list.
    This “create” station is probably my biggest job. I want to keep all 10 drawers I have allotted for this station full of potential projects and their materials…rarely do I have all 10 filled, but that’s still my goal!  My kids tend to have plenty of their own projects going on so I just rarely needed to do this…but I really do want to work harder at this and pull stuff out of our supplies that they never get to.
  6. Check art supplies, add needed supplies to shopping list. Once I’ve started a shopping list for the “create” station, I want to check our staple art supplies (glue, colored pencils, tape, paper, etc) and make sure to add anything that is low and vital to the shopping list (or order online next chance I get). Nope, never did this either. 
  7. Reboot “read” station bookshelves/baskets…pull all books already read or that they have no interest in, put in library bags to return (or reshelve our own books). This is my chance to refresh the “read” station, to keep it interesting to the kiddos. A lot of these books I find through just skimming library shelves, but often times I’ll do research via Amazon and Goodreads to find more good book options that fit nicely with whatever topic we are currently tackling. Now this I actually did do all the time! Usually all library books. Yay, me!
  8. Check our shelves for books to put out in the new week.  I have so many good books that I just forget about once they are on the shelf. Forcing myself to go through them all periodically to look for ones that would fit with our current topics allows me to finally bring those books out for use! This is something I almost never got to and still REALLY want to work on this year.
  9. Head to library to return books and find new ones. I need to make sure to get those books back to the library regularly as I have a habit of overdue books that has cost me quite a lot! Also allows me to find more good books to keep the kids interested in whatever topics we are covering. Still paying on library fines from last year. Sigh.
  10. Reboot “play” station…check for unused games, rotate games as necessary. We have a fair amount of games to keep us stocked in this area…but I still try to find new games to rotate in from time to time, to keep things fresh and interesting. Nope, didn’t do this either….I think I had far too many games at this station, though…this year I took out the bookshelf that I used for this station and moved the furniture around so I’m having to use something different for this so I’m going to try something different and just have a couple games and rotate more often with just a couple. See if that helps.
  11. Reboot the “write” station…check word prompts, rotate/replace as necessary. I IMG_3260.JPGget these through Pinterest as well as writing lesson books. When I find something I think is good, I photocopy or print it and place in our hanging pockets. This keeps the choices fresh and interesting. After a few weeks or sometimes about a month, I take the things that were never chosen and file them away to bring out another time, replacing with new choices. I try to find writing prompts and ideas that I think will appeal to my children and make writing the least painful. Sigh, I suck at rebooting this station…it’s at the back of the room and I just forget about it. On my list of things to do.
  12. Reboot “listen” station recordings, rotate/replace as necessary. I have the most difficult time with the recordings. I haven’t found enough high quality, interesting podcasts for my kids to listen to, and my kids usually reject audiobooks. Usually this station ends up being me reading to them…and that’s fine, as all of us enjoy that best…I just like to have other options, including options that they don’t have to wait for me to accomplish. I’m still working on expanding my repertoire for this station. My kids just don’t like listening to audiobooks or podcasts much at all, so I just don’t put much work into finding things for this…but I keep hoping that will change! I’ll keep trying…but I don’t put a lot of work into this because of that.
  13. Reboot “watch” station videos, rotate/replace as necessary. Depending on the topic, this is pretty easy. There’s a zillion good videos on PBS alone. But for this station I take whatever topics we are currently covering and do a search of PBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube, and then bookmark videos onto my Symbaloo account.Lately I have been tweaking this system, as my kids usually want to watch videos on our tv, not on a computer…So I check Netflix and Amazon first and add appropriate videos to those watchlists. I actually have the primary profile on Netflix as our “Educational videos” profile, and our just those videos on there…deleting/replacing as we change subjects…But Amazon isn’t as simple, since it doesn’t have profiles. (So allll our watchlist videos, recreational and parent pics too, are on there) so I have to remind them to check with me before picking a video to watch. Usually they are very good about this. I don’t even remember what we ended up doing by the end of the year for the “Watch” station…probably just our standard Nature, NOVA, PBS documentaries and such. Time to get back to work digging new and exciting stuff up! And I’d like to make use of Symbaloo again…totally got offtrack using that…it’s a great tool!

So that’s it! That’s my plan for planning! So far I’ve not been able to find time to do the whole thing start to finish, but I do it in pieces as needed.

And I’ve added these steps to my HomeRoutines app on my phone so I can check things off as I go and have reminders pop up.  Yeah, I’m not really using that app a lot either….need to get back to that too. I go back and forth with that thing!! It’s really a fantastic app! I love that when I get offtrack that my routines are still safely stored in there, ready for me when I come back to it…and when I use it, it really helps a lot. 

I’m finding that, like all things in my life, I get off track with planning all the time…and so having a system in place to refer to when I’ve lost my way has made things much more doable for this ever-distracted ADD mom.

I’d love to hear from you about how you do your planning, and how you keep from getting off track! Especially love to hear of tools used for these purposes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you have to share, and if anything I’ve shared is helpful to you!

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Rebooting for a new year

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So my Purge and Clean is done for the summer….yes, I sucked at blogging about it…maybe I’ll drag out some more pics and blog some more about it soon, if I can find the time…but suffice it to say that I KICKED some serious BUTT on my house!  I am VERY PLEASED with the outcome!!

If you’d like to see my completely thorough spreadsheet of all that I did this summary, check it out here. I tweaked it constantly all summer, and continue to tweak as I work through it, adding notes on what I accomplished and what I plan to accomplish. It’s really helped me stay focused and makes me feel good to see all that I did accomplish.

Quick summary: I spent 8 out of the past 9 weeks (took a week off for party planning on my son’s 10th birthday party) working my way through my house, room by room, decluttering, reorganizing (where appropriate) and thoroughly cleaning the hell outta things. Like I never have time for during our homeschool year.

Note: This allows me to not stress over the house so much during the year on the decluttering and deeper, bigger jobs because I know I will get to it over the summer every year. It really feels good to know I WILL get to it over the summer, so I just don’t worry about it during the year. This was my THIRD SUMMER doing this, and it’s like (seriously) the only thing I’ve been able to do consistently that ACTUALLY WORKS with this A.D.D. brain! Holy cow! Something that WORKS!!! I’m sticking with it!!

Through very strategic planning, I was able to do not only my entire house, but my yard and shed as well, and feel like I am ready to tackle planning for my new homeschool year now that my house is in a better place now.

Now granted, my house quickly devolves back into a lived-in mess…but it isn’t hard to bring it back up to clean again. And I’m very comforted knowing that the closets and cupboards and out of traffic areas are free of clutter and are well organized still. 🙂  It’s amazing how extremely comforting that really is!! Like a feeling a peace in the back of my brain all the time. It’s amazing.  Clutter and chaos is really so stressful and damaging….didn’t realize how much so until I started clearing it out.

Anyway, case in point about the devolving of my house back into a lived-in mess, the first room I worked on this summer was the art/school area of our “Big Room”, which is our garage conversion that serves as our school room/play room….which is one of the most used rooms in the house….so here’s how the summer started:
(click on the thumbnails to see full images)


Here’s how the room looked after I totally cleaned up and reorganize the room and replaced the one table with 2 individual tables (still haven’t gotten the wall stuff done yet, hence the barren walls):


And then here’s how it looks today:

Yeah….well, at least they’re using it, eh?  Lots of creative stuff happening in there!
But time for me to roll up my non-existent sleeves (it’s HOT in Fresno in summer! No stinkin sleeves here in July!) and get to work again because the school year is fast approaching!!!

In the process of re-organizing that space I’m going to be finally figuring out exactly how I want our stations to work this year…since I’ve taken out some of the furniture I used for stations (the shelves I used for the “Play Something” station, for one), I need to rethink things….so I’m not just talking cleaning and reorganizing again here (and yes, I do have to still reorganize…because when I did my initial reorganize back in May, I did it knowing that I hadn’t actually done it fully to my liking…there were many things I didn’t like and knew I’d have to get back to)….I’m talking lots of thinking and planning I’ll be working on today and the rest of this week…..

Time to get to work!! Updates to come!!!

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And now, introducing: NOODLE HOMESCHOOL!!!

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I mentioned in the last post that I created a whole new online learning experience and named it “Moodle Homeschool” (see that post for all the details)…..After the fact, I thought of the use of that name and had a feeling that I might be getting myself into trouble down the line with that name, so I emailed Moodle…..

Got word from the powers-that-be at Moodle that I cannot use their name in my project name like that. WOOPS! I should have known that! I actually am well aware of this from what I’ve read about WordPress businesses….Not sure why it didn’t occur to me until several weeks in that using that name was probably a bad idea.

I’ve changed the name to NOODLE HOMESCHOOL!!


Had a little more fun with the logo too…cleaned it up a little, making it less cluttered and adding a mustache that just really seemed to go with the whole “Noodle” thing, LOL!

A little more about the logo….

As mentioned above, the mustache was added because it seemed like a silly, fun thing to show that Noodle Homeschool is something fun.

The mortarboard is a universal symbol for education that is part of the Moodle logo…I got permission to still use that, so I went with it, to tie in with the fact that I’m using Moodle for the classes, and there is learning happening at Noodle Homeschool.

The flowers, I felt were a good representation of our little blooming minds….learning and growing….

The party hat is on the word “homeschool” because, again, I think homeschooling should be FUN! (Part of the reason that I created Noodle Homeschool was to bring the fun back to our family’s homeschooling!)

Plus, I’m thinking it might work well to have a tag line like “Use your noodle!”  I’ll have to see what I can come up with for that.

So I’m excited by the change! We’ll see where it takes us.

I haven’t changed the url for the actual classes, they are still at: http://homeschoolrealm.com/moodle since they told me it’s ok to use moodle in the url like that. I don’t want to have to change that, which would be a much bigger deal.

And it’s not too late to join us for The Amazing Race 26 course currently happening!
CBS posts full episodes of previous shows on their website, so you can watch anytime after it’s aired!
We’ve visited Japan and Thailand so far this season, and we are having a lot of fun! Come check it out!

Just $10/child for all 8 countries of Amazing Race 26! This rate will be at least doubled after this season…so join us now and you can enjoy some fun learning (and not all of it is online! I do have printables and instructions for offline activities too!)  And get a taste of what is to come in Noodle Homeschool! I have lots of plans to create more classes once we get through this season of Amazing Race. I’m focusing on building the country classes right now, and figuring out the best way to do things with my 25 enrolled kids currently taking the class (including my 2)…I’m getting help with feedback from the families participating, to help improve things so when I launch the next course it will be even better!

Also, PLEASE SHARE!! Tell your friends, post the link on online groups you are on, and just tell people about what’s going on over here! I really appreciate your helping me get the word out about this brand new thing I’ve got going on that I’m having a blast creating!

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Introducing…Moodle Homeschool!!!

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Update: I just got word that I cannot use the name “Moodle” in my biz name, so I’ve changed “Moodle Homeschool” to “Noodle Homeschool”! I think I actually like it better!  The url is the same, but the name and logo has just changed.


Soooooo exciting!!

If you follow me on the Homeschool Realm Facebook page or on the Experience-Based Learning FB group, or listen to the Savvy Homeschool Moms podcast, you’ve seen/heard me talking about Moodle.

I am seriously in love with this program!!

It just occurred to me that I never talked about it here on my blog! Woops! This thing is all-consuming lately,  which is probably why I haven’t found time to blog about it yet!

Ok, so here it is. I’ll start from the beginning.

Moodle is a program for organizing learning online. It organizes teacher’s resources, activities, assignments, quizzes, everything in one place for students and teachers both to be able to access and communicate freely.

Lots of colleges and schools use Moodle all over the world.

Here’s a pretty dull looking Moodle class screenshot I just snagged off the web to give you a taste.  You can see how things are all laid out for students.

Here’s some screenshots of a Japan course I have as part of my Amazing Race 26 series:
(These are only a small sampling of what I’ve put together for this particular course…but it will give you an idea of how *I* do MY Moodle classes!)


Screenshot_4 Screenshot_5 Screenshot_6 Screenshot_7 Screenshot_8 Screenshot_9

Obviously, these are links to the full activity or assignment…and on the full page there is information, instructions, links to outside resources and embedded videos.

And you can see how I’ve brought my Experience-Based Learning idea into these online lessons! I sort every course by station!

Also, the check boxes to the right are for the children to check what activities they’ve completed, to help them keep track since there’s SO MANY things to do! 🙂

One of my favorite things about Moodle is the ability to embed video right into the lesson page!! No more distractions from YouTube! I’ve even learned how to turn off the suggested videos at the end!! Love it!

And there’s loads of ways for students to submit answers to questions or assignments or upload files (still trying to think of a creative way to use that feature that does not involve requiring students to write a paper. Not really the direction I want to go with this. I’ll think of something! Or just skip it.)

I’m having so much fun coming up with creative and fun ways to use all these features…recently came up with an intro lesson for each country that involves an interactive lesson, leading the kids through learning about the basics of each country: language, currency, where it’s located, that sort of thing…Interactive and fun to help them, hopefully, retain the information.

ANYWAY….Can you tell how much I LOVE MOODLE??

I stumbled upon Moodle because Minecraft Homeschool started using it for their classes, which my kids love! It’s a really neat way to pull all the activities and assignments together in one place for kids to be able to do their work, and in a fun way! Because my kids love technology as much as I do!

So I got to thinking….maybe I should try it out and see if I could pull my kids’ stations together online!

So I installed it on my server. (It’s free, open-source, but you have to have webspace to install it on.) And I started playing with it.

Whew, you guys! It’s COMMMMM.PLEX!! But I am loving it!

So I took 2 of the lessons we were working on in our Traveling Through History with Doctor Who lessons (check them out if you have Whovians too! Great way to learn history!) and I started putting all the info onto Moodle for my kids, and in a format specifically for the kids, so it was directed at the student, not the teacher…and I tweaked the hell out of it.

I am not one to leave things the way they are when I see ways they can be improved….so I added and deleted so much that it really no longer resembles the original. Which is good, because even though I started just doing this for MY kids…I quickly realized that here is something I could open up to others and make some much needed income on! (A good thing it no longer resembles the original, I say, because I would NEVER copy someone else’s work! So I basically am starting from scratch on the Doctor Who History idea…using almost nothing from this woman’s work, other than Doctor Who episodes I would have used anyway and links/resources  that I already knew…and I’m going to be providing mine online in such a way that it’s a completely different resource. Plus I will continue to recommend her lessons, because they are good!)

And THEN, I saw the announcement that Amazing Race 26 was starting in about a week. 

And I realized how PERFECT this would be to start this new business venture!!

You guys remember how we homeschool with The Amazing Race, right? Learning about the countries as the racers race around the world? Hm, I don’t seem to have blogged about that either. Geez, I’m really behind on my blog posts! Well listen to that episode of Savvy Homeschool Moms linked above and you’ll hear all about it.

So….Amazing Race….I would have to get my butt in gear PRONTO…setting a system up for payment and spread the word and get the first country material prepared….luckily their Wikipedia page lets you know a little ahead of time what countries they are heading to, and I already have an audience here on Homeschool Realm, the Homeschool Realm Facebook page, and of course our podcast listeners at Savvy Homeschool Moms, so I knew spreading the word wouldn’t be an issue!

So I got to work!! And that’s how Moodle Homeschool was born!!

And WOW, this is turning out to be a lot of work and a lot of FUN!  I have the first country, Japan, done, and just completed the second destination, Thailand!

I have  22 students currently enrolled and enjoying the activities and resources!! So far so good!

At the writing of this, we are 3 episodes into Amazing Race 26, but it’s not too late to join us!
Since past episodes of Amazing Race are available on CBS’s website, you can catch up any time!

ALSO: This season I am only charging the introductory price of $10/child for the entire season (season 26)…That’s 8 countries for $10! An amazing deal! And I will not be keeping it this low next season! I started low to get my feet wet with as many kids as possible trying out my untested idea. After this season, I’ll better know what I’m doing and I can already tell you that price will most likely double, at least.

I want to keep it as affordable as possible for homeschool families so I won’t raise prices crazy high. But I literally put HOURS and HOURS of work into each course…so $10 won’t do for long.

So get in at this great price while you can!!

Moodle Homeschool

And let me know if you have any questions!

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