Thursday, November 25, 2021

Therapy Scarecrows!

It has been a long time since I've posted something fun.  I'm a busy mom and a therapy mom - by therapy mom, I mean that I am responsible for helping one of our littles with his therapy during the week.

I'm going to be honest here.  Being a homeschooling mom AND a therapy mom is hard - really, really HARD some days.  I have amazing kids, and I love them - but there is only one of me and several of them and lots of things to get done!  

And one of those things is therapy. 

For those moms who have kids in therapy and have to complete exercises at home daily, you'll "get" me.  Sometimes the point of therapy is to do the same things over and over and over and over because repetition is key to success.  But doing the same things over and over and over can get old really (REALLY) fast.  

For those of you therapy moms out there who wish there was a way to make home therapy a bit more playful and fun, this post is for you.  If you are short on time - just skip to that section closer to the bottom of the post.  :)

Some weeks we have themes in our homeschool (and sometimes we don't because mommy needs a break) - I do this for two reasons: for fun and to cement new ideas and vocabulary in our little one's mind.  A recent theme was "Scarecrows".  

What could be more fun than eating "hay bales" for breakfast?  Perhaps decorating those hay bales to look like scarecrow faces!

What about lunch?  How about an open-faced peanut butter sandwich with lots of healthy goodies to make another scarecrow face.  

Sensory bins are great for kids who crave hands-on everything.  I was sure I could come up with something for our theme, so I turned this (below)....

Into this!  Yep - it may not look like much.  Trust me though, the fun is in the creativity and enjoyment of textures and colors.  Some kids will need help at first.  Just show them how to stuff raffia (straw) into a paper sack and rubber band it at the base to create a scarecrow head. 

Let your child explore by making different scarecrow faces and then take some pictures.  

This activity could easily double as an "experience book" opportunity.   Simply print the photos and have your child dictate something about each scarecrow:  This scarecrow is happy.  This scarecrow is mad.  This scarecrow is surprised.  And so on.  Depending on your child's level of skill, you could even add color, shape, texture words (He has two green eyes.  She has a soft nose. etc.).

Do you have a little one who loves to paint?  If you don't mind a bit of a mess, grab some raffia and bundle it up to create a "scarecrow arm" brush.  Break out the paints and let your child experiment what it might be like to paint with his hand if he was a scarecrow.

I tried to squish some school into the activity by having our little one attempt to paint some of his sight words first.  Then I just let him have fun mixing colors and let him paint something of his own.  

I thought it might be fun to make a book of some sort to go along with our theme and remembered making a similar thing with another of our children many years ago.  I simply cut the sides off of a paper sack, accordion folded it, and added the pieces with our little one.  Voila!  A fun little book which invites a bit of hands-on reading or just exploring of shapes, textures, etc.

A big part of our day is therapy work.  I decided this week to change things up a bit and merge our theme with therapy.  I searched the house for different items to make scarecrow faces, eyes, mouths, hats, and noses.

Each time my son had to complete a therapy task, he would earn a piece of scarecrow to build.  We'd start with the face (so he'd have a canvas to work on) and build the rest of the face from there.  Each time he finished the task and earned his new piece, he would add it to the face.  By the end of our therapy session, we had a cute scarecrow face (or even more depending on his interest and stamina).  

Remember, it is important to keep things happy and relaxed (you'll both enjoy it more) so let your child choose what he/she would like to put on each time and allow him/her to be silly with it ("A four-eyed scarecrow with two noses and no mouth?  I love it, honey!").  

The same thing can also be achieved using a Play-Doh face base (great option for busy little fingers that like to squish things) and a variety of items you find around your home (Legos, cotton balls, buttons, felt, bottle caps, beads, stones, etc.).  Your child can even help you collect them!

This was something else we did one day to change up our therapy routine.  I would draw a piece of a scarecrow face on the mirror we were using for therapy each time he would complete an activity for me.  By the end, we had a scarecrow staring back at us!

Yet another way we would add something fun and different, yet theme-related into our therapy for the day was to match colorful letters to a theme word changing it from "blah" (just black lettering) into a much more colorful word!  Each time my son completed an activity, he could choose a colorful letter to cover a "blah" letter until we had a much brighter word.  

For those who might be trying to keep up with daily therapy and wishing for a better way to keep track of what you need to do each day, consider making a therapy planner of your own or purchase one!  

I decided to make my own (pictured above) as I was having a hard time finding one I liked online.  We decided to share it with others as well so it can now be purchased online.  We hope it not only helps families in a functional way but provides a spot of cheer and beauty during those days that feel a bit more dreary.  I have mine in a caddy with our therapy tools so it is easy to see and use.  I love the bright colors - something to lift the heart when I've hit a rough patch in our therapy journey.  

We are currently experimenting with an Etsy store set up (we also have a website) and are offering our planner at 30% off for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in our Etsy store until November 30th!   Here is the link:

For heart lifting words,  inspirational quotes, and stories of other individuals facing and overcoming challenges, check out our Facebook page as well:

Please note:

This is a FOUR month planner.  The smaller size allows us to keep the planner slightly lighter weight for ease of slipping into a purse or therapy bag for trips to a therapist or medical office.  

These planners are pretty generic and can also be used for other purposes as well - prayer journals, regular planners, etc. but were specifically created with therapy in mind.  

Hope this post has provided some inspiration for other therapy or homeschooling moms out there!  I'd love to hear from you if it did.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, August 13, 2020

In the Trenches...

If you've had concerns about whether you are doing enough to educate your child and whether you've covered all the bases - you are not alone.  That sentiment seems to echo in the hearts of so many mothers who have either chosen or been forced by circumstance to homeschool their children during this season of life. 

One of the best things you can do when facing the giant of fear and uncertainty is to find someone who has faced the same foe and can still chuckle about it while patting your hand and giving you sage advice learned from the trenches.  Enter Sally Clarkson.  On some of my most difficult days of battle, I'll sometimes pull up a post or listen to a podcast as she cheerfully discusses tea, memories, theology and the ministry of motherhood which gently reminds me "this is where the rubber meets the road".   Somehow in those transformative 20-30 minutes, I will often go from a battle worn mama to charging back into the fray with renewed vigor and determination.  

I highly recommend her books (no, I am not being compensated to say that), AND she has a new one coming out in just a few days about education.  You can register here for an online series of video visits this month (related to the book), FREE for a short while.  I believe they will eventually be moved to the paid membership page, so now is the time to listen in!  It is my hope that many of you who feel like you are drowning in doubt right now will pick up one of her books and be encouraged as you face the new challenges ahead.  May you have a restful and sweet year of homeschooling!  

Monday, April 6, 2020

Once Upon a Birthday in Quarantine...

Once upon a quarantine, children everywhere faced the prospect of a less than "happily ever after" birthday scenario.

Is your family facing the nefarious birthday foe - Coronavirus?  Do you fear there is nothing for it but to spend this special day in defeat?  

But wait, have you visited your arsenal lately?  With the weapons of love, imagination, and work this birthday does not have to end poorly.  It could still be a day to remember but in a good way!   Here are some suggestions to get those creative ideas flowing....

Lego Challenge Birthday:  send friends/family a Lego building challenge (related to the birthday child's favorite things of course - build a birthday hat out of Legos and wear it, build a scene from the child's favorite book, build a birthday cake, etc.) and have several times throughout the day when kids (or family members) go online to share their "builds".  You could even award online prizes (gift cards to Amazon, etc.).

Fairytale Birthday:  Be your child's servants for the day!  Plan special pampering activities or jousting (pool noodles make an unexpected comeback here) in the backyard!  Have friends dress up like royalty from different make believe kingdoms (you could even have a guessing game to try to figure out which kingdoms they might be from based on their costumes)and plan to have a royal assembly online in the evening.  Maybe friends could write stories where your child is the hero or heroine and take turns reading them out loud to the birthday girl/boy.  They could also simply draw and share royal pictures for the birthday child.

Drop-in Birthday:  Have friends/family drop presents off on the doorstep throughout the day.  They can stay in their cars to watch the birthday child open the gift.

Hourly Birthday:  Open one gift item hourly along with a phone call or video call from the giver so they can watch the birthday child opening the gift.


Open a gift item hourly from just your immediate family (use items from dollar store, even party goods for that day could be a gift, or provide a card that gives them $5-$10 to spend at a store online, etc.).  Having presents to open every hour of your special day is certainly something to look forward to!

Scavenger Hunt Birthday:  Create a simple scavenger hunt to look for gifts throughout the day.  The birthday child searches for an item,  provides what you asked for, and you give them one of their gifts to open or have the gift sitting with the item they are looking for.  


A technology enhanced scavenger hunt with friends could be fun as well.  Send out a complete list (or send an item hourly) and have friends hunt for items in their homes.  Meet at the end of the day on Zoom or FaceTime, etc. to share finds (or kids can send pics of their treasures via phone if doing an hourly hunt).  Prizes could be $5 to Amazon or some other store.  

Mission Impossible Birthday: Wake your child up to the theme music from the show and hand them an envelope with instructions inside written on toilet paper or tissue paper (you’ll see why when you reach the self-destruct part below): 

Your mission is to find your presents by day’s end.  This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds!

Make sure you have a water gun ready to spray the message down (to destruct it) and it can’t hurt for memory’s sake if the birthday person also gets a little wet, right?  Provide clues throughout the day to help them hunt for presents.  If you have yarn on hand, string it across doorways or throughout a room creating a "laser" field they have to get through in order to find their next clue or prize. If you happen to have black balloons - throw some surprise bombs at them which they have to dodge every once in a while.  You could even have them interview “suspects” inside your house and allow the suspects to let some clues slip out while being interrogated.

"Clue" Birthday:  Hide presents, dress up as characters from the Clue game or make up your own, and try to figure out who hid the presents, where, and with (or in) what.

Floral Birthday:  Have friends or family deliver one flower each hour (or randomly throughout the day) on the doorstep with a special note as to why they chose it for the person (the color made me think of your bright personality, etc.).  Another variation would be to possibly attach a special flower message (old custom of flowers having meanings or messages behind them.  If you search online, you might be able to find some sites that will list meanings). By the end of the day, the birthday child will have a special bouquet full of sweet significance.  

Surprise POPty (party):   Fill the birthday child’s room with balloons to wake up to in the morning. Place a small slip of paper inside each balloon with a fun activity for the child to complete on his/her birthday (play a game of choice, special movie, eat ice cream, make cookies, new game on iPad, etc.).  The slips of paper could also tell of a present they are allowed to open (present from sis or present from grandpa, etc.).  The birthday child pops balloons throughout the day.  You could even have times written on different balloons if you wanted them to be popped at a certain time.  Also have friends or family members "pop" online (Zoom, Google Hangout, etc.) to wish a happy birthday throughout the day at random times.  

Movie Night Birthday:  Pop some popcorn and call up friends to “watch” a movie together.  Start the movie at the same time and enjoy texting or Skyping while watching together.  You could send friends/family some small birthday “invitation” packages beforehand with items inside (microwave popcorn, movie candy in boxes, and a movie ticket styled invitation) to be used on the birthday movie night.

Game Night Birthday:  Play card games or other online friendly games (FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) with friends.  Send each person attending the birthday game night the name of a favorite book character, favorite historical figure, etc. of the birthday person.  During the party - let each guest give three clues to their identity or allow people to play 20 questions, etc. until someone solves the mystery of who each guest is supposed to be.

Book Party:  Surprise your child by having a themed party based on their favorite book.  Have family/friends dress up as characters from the book (those who don't live at home could do this and visit via an online site like FaceTime, etc.).  Serve themed food from the book.  Play guessing games during the day or in an online party with quotes from the book (who said this quote ____ or fill in the quote).  Have family/friends purchase a book or two as gifts and leave them on the doorstep throughout the day.  

Party in a Box:  Send a simple birthday package with fun items inside for celebrating someone’s special day – their favorite treats, or items for making a cake in a mug (or pre-made kits), party hat, party t-shirt, confetti, noisemaker, etc.  You could even make it a themed party box!

These are just a few possibilities, but there are so many more!  If none of these feels right for your child, enlist creative family/friends to help brainstorm some special activities!  Feel free to add your ideas to this list via the comment section as well!

If all else fails, give the birthday child a puppy or a pony.  Trust me, it will probably be a birthday he/she (and you) will never forget.  ;)

And they celebrated (hopefully) happily ever after!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Quick & Easy St. Patrick's Day Walk

For moms looking for ways to spice up St. Patrick's Day from home and still do some school or review. This activity is quick and easy.   It can be made with rainbow construction paper or green (make a shamrock walk) or even white with rainbow colored writing (one paper with red marker, one with orange, then yellow, etc.).

I write items on there that I want my kids to be learning or reviewing. Each time they approach the kitchen table (snack, lunch, dinner, craft, etc.), they have to call out the answers as they step on the papers. You can do this with vocabulary words, sight words, ABC's, Latin, capitals, science terms, etc. 

If you have multiple children all doing different things, you could assign each a corner of the paper and put their items there.  You could also color code (all of one child's be in blue, another child's in red, etc.) or label with an initial. Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Suddenly Homeschooled!

One week life was normal.  The next week it wasn't.

Has your family recently fallen into the "suddenly homeschooled" group?  You didn't choose this.  It just happened.

A virus reared its nasty head.  Stores ran out of goods.  Schools closed.  You might have even been asked to teach your children at home for a while.  Suddenly, you homeschool.

But what does that look like?!  Where do I even begin?!

Hang in there, mama!  There are many who want to help.

You are not alone in this.

 Let that concept really sink deep and take root in your heart.

You are not alone in this.  

If there is one thing homeschool moms understand and identify with - it is the vital need for support.  They understand ups and downs on a daily basis.  They understand doubt and fear and even chaos (hmm... especially chaos).

Now, let's talk some homeschool "shop".

1.  Seasoned homeschool moms will tell you - community is important!  As you begin this unexpected journey - be it short or long - try searching online for homeschool communities in your area.  Reach out to them.  Chances are, you will find moms willing to help you through this.

2.  If you are unable to find or join a homeschool group - start your own!  Reach out to other "suddenly homeschooled" families and swap stories, share resources, plan a picnic, etc.  You might even make some new friends!

3.  Another option is to join an online homeschool community or to surround yourself with a few encouraging mommy bloggers.  One of my favorite online sources for encouragement and resources is  This woman understands what it feels like to raise children with a variety of needs under very trying circumstances!  I highly recommend her books and podcasts (no, I was not paid to say this).

4.  Free or inexpensive resources are readily available online and in stores:

* is an awesome resource!  This is a site where teachers (or therapists, moms, etc.) create lessons, games, STEM activities, etc. and other teachers or homeschooling families purchase/download them.  There are some seriously creative people out there who have done a lot of the work for you and made it super fun as well.  Just search for what your child has been studying, and you are likely to find much to purchase or download for free.

* is a great place to brush up on reading, math, etc. skills for younger children.

* and are good resources for math fact practice using games, etc.

*Pinterest.  Need I say more?  Search for your child's grade level or subject and prepare to be amazed by the great ideas others have come up with.

*Dollar stores.  Not only do some have an education section with short workbooks for younger elementary/kinder, they also tend to stock harder puzzle books (crosswords, Sudoko, etc.), advanced coloring books, small games, and puzzles for guessed it....$1.  If you know you are only homeschooling for a week or two, these might help keep your child on his/her toes.

*Homeschool blogs online.  There are moms out there who will share both experience AND great resources with you via their blogs.  Remember - community and support!  Here are a few to get you started:

Here is also a link to another blogger who lists some websites which are offering free subscriptions right now.

3.  READ, READ, READ!  I know many libraries have closed temporarily....but maybe not the private ones.  By these, I am referring to many homeschool family homes.  Yes.  We have books.  Many, many, many, many books.  It is very possible that some of these families would loan your child books while waiting for school buildings to reopen.

Also consider checking with family members and friends.  You might be surprised at the hardback/paperback treasures you uncover when you just ask.

4.  Play!  There are so many educational board games out there which secretly (or not-so-secretly) require your children to put their education to good use.  You may be surprised at what your kids learn or skills they review by just playing a great game.  You might even suggest your children design one of their own (recycle that old pizza box)!  Imagine the education-worthy potential of such an activity:  fine motor skills, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, math, language arts, writing, and the list goes on!

5.  Online schools.  There are many of these out there depending on what style or level of homeschooling or online schooling you are interested in.  This has proven to be an incredible resource for our family!  Our kids may take one or two classes online (live or self-paced) which allows me to have some time to work with a younger child or have some time to get chores done, etc.

One of our favorite online academies offers amazing self-paced courses.  These are backed by a 90-day return policy.  The courses often present material via amusing characters and sometimes animation.  They spice things up with creative games and challenges which my children have really enjoyed.  These often seem to be the highlight of our school subjects.

DIVE into Math  offers graded self-paced learning in certain math and science subjects.  They also offer some live courses.

6.  Come up with a relaxed and simple schedule to start with (see a sample below).  It should be something which will allow your family to ease into this abrupt educational change, but one which will also provide a source of welcome structure for both your children and yourself.

A note about snacks:  consider having a box/drawer in your pantry or fridge or both which have snacks your children can choose from.  Limit the choices to one or two per snack time.  This allows children to practice responsibility and choice (after the first few times, they understand that they don't need to ask you what they are allowed to have for a snack but just head to the snack box).

7.  Consider hiring a part-time tutor.  There are many teachers who will be staying home right now who might welcome the opportunity to earn a little extra money while helping other families.

The list could go on....and on.....

But I will stop there.  Why?  Here's another tidbit of homeschool wisdom: too many choices may muddy the waters.  Instead of helping, an overload of information could cause you to feel overwhelmed once more.  I suggest starting with just some of the ideas above and moving forward from there.

If none appeal or meet your child's needs, then I would direct you back to #1 and #2.  Let the vast community of homeschool moms help!  So brew yourself a cup of tea or coffee, take a deep breath, and dive in knowing (all together now) you are not alone in this!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

"Invalidated" - A Homeschooling Family's Dream Turned Upside Down...

Many of you may have benefited this summer (and past ones) from the Bunch O Balloons (Zuru) invention which allows children to fill up a large quantity of balloons in an incredibly short amount of time.  Not only do the balloons fill up, but they drop off already tied and ready to go.  Absolutely BRILLIANT!  Parenting, at least during the spring and summer months, just got a little bit easier (or a lot depending on how many days per week your children ask you to fill and tie their water balloons for them).

What many of you may NOT know is that the inventor, Josh Malone and his homeschooling family,  have been battling in courts over a period of years now.  The issue?  His hard work and achievement were targeted by others who wished to steal his design and benefit from it.  You'd think that his patent would protect him, but you would be wrong.  It borders on the ridiculous what this family has had to endure in order to try to protect and fight for his invention. 

The patent he worked so hard for is pretty much pointless.  While courts sided with the Malone family, the large company trying to steal Josh's design took their argument to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) trying to prove that one cannot know when a water balloon is "substantially filled" as Josh's patent claimed.  Incredibly, the board sided with the large company and said they could now copy Josh's design.  And if you think this is an isolated incident...well, I'd just encourage you to take a deeper look at our country's PTAB (the film below contains some alarming statistics and information). 

It is a tragic story but one that should really be heard as it illuminates a very broken patent system.  Did you know that while the United States once used to be a leader in the patent system, we have now apparently dropped to number 12 in rank behind other countries?!  What this is beginning to mean for many inventors is that they might be better served by taking their inventions to another country for protection and development.   I don't know about you, but I find that quite disturbing.  And it is happening now.  Inventors are being faced with these decisions.  How many medical and technological advances might be lost to other countries if ours allows this sort of behavior by the PTAB and larger companies to continue?

Consider the time that our inventors spend in courts trying to protect their patents instead of investing those years in more inventions which benefit our society.  Quite honestly, if you were an inventor, do you  think you would even want to invent something again after having your other patents marked as invalid when a larger company sees a profit to be made and takes their arguments to the PTAB?  And what of the expenses involved for inventors, especially if they have to go to court and/or the PTAB (at which point, they could be looking at hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars needed to keep fighting). 

"Invalidated" is a film which exposes what the Malone family and others have had to endure and is well worth watching and sharing!  We benefit from the ingenuity and creativity of inventors.  Isn't it time we supported them as well?

Note:  If you have an Amazon Prime membership, I believe you might be able to view the film for free.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

5..4..3..2..1..Blast off!!! Back to School Launch (Space Theme)!

BACK TO SCHOOL ALREADY?  No, we are not starting school right now.  This just happens to be what we did last year.   It was a great theme, and I wanted to share some pictures with you while I have a little bit of free time this summer.

The party plates, tablecloth, straws, etc. were purchased at a store, but there are SOOO many options and great things online when it comes to the "space" theme (see links below).  The placemats are black paper with designs I drew on them using a silver marker.  I then had them laminated.   The sign is one I made myself (the flames coming out of the rocket are red tissue paper).

To make the NASA shirts, I purchased some NASA patches via someone on Etsy and put them on plain white shirts.  If you buy some patches that are not iron-on, you can sew them or use fabric glue. 

A space-themed background greeted my kids that first school morning.  The black star clustered paper was purchased at a store (I think it was Hobby Lobby), and I believe I bought the planet cut-outs online (see link below post).

Of course we always like to include something yummy for breakfast.  Special cereals are a treat for our kids so these worked into our theme perfectly.

After breakfast, it was time to take some first day of school pictures.  I made them each a sign with their grade level printed on it (but blacked out for pics). 

The kids spent some time exploring the other areas of the house as well.  This was the moon corner (more black star paper for the space background) where I used gray party tablecloths on the floor with light paint to create the surface of the moon effect.  Speaking of the moon - we also had a "moon" snack (rice cake with cereal and sliced bananas for craters).

This seemed to be one of the more favored areas of the house for a while.  The space shuttle was painted on a white vinyl party tablecloth.  On one side was "Mission Control" and the other side acted as the inside of the shuttle with a cockpit.

Here's a picture of the cockpit inside our "shuttle".  I created this AND our Mission Control Center using tri-fold school project boards with control panel pictures glued on.   Control panel pictures can be purchased here for 99 cents!  I also added some other little pictures I found online.  I hot glued some toggle switches on (these and others can be purchased pretty cheaply on Amazon - see links below).  One of the best features though was adding lights (kind of hard to see but really added to the effect).  I did this by punching out small holes in the boards and sticking small poster lights through them.

 Here is a close-up of the cockpit.

 This is a picture of our Mission Control Center.

Of course, we had our usual treasure hunt for school supplies hidden by our homeschool elf (note that this time we caught him with them on the moon!).  

We ended our day with a build-your-own-planet-pizza bar.  Mmmmm!

If you are able, I recommend a visit to NASA as well.  We ended up having to travel to that area for medical reasons this past year and visited NASA while there.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

Linking up here this week: