Fun Eclipse Projects, Maps, Simulator, and Viewing Tips


In case, you have missed the news, there will be a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017. This will be the first total eclipse to be visible from the continental US in 40 years. The path of totality will travel across the length of the continent.


Fun Eclipse Projects, Maps, Simulator, and Viewing Tips


The next total solar eclipse visible from the states will be on April 8, 2024. You can check out this website for other future solar eclipse dates, as well as maps.


Use this website to check the Eclipse Time in your area.


Use this Eclipse eBook from Apologia to help the kids learn more.


Check out these eclipse viewers to make:

Printable Pinhole Projectors

Make a Box Pinhole Projector


Make an eclipse viewer out of a cereal box




Or try using your hands to view the solar eclipse.



Eclipse Mega Movie Simulator – This is so cool. Type in your city and state, and it will play a video showing what the eclipse will look like where you live.


Check out this video from The Weather Channel




Now that we covered the fun stuff, lets cover solar eclipse viewing safety.

NEVER look directly at the sun. Make sure your kids know this, too. If you are in the path of totality, you can safely remove your viewing glasses for the brief moment that the sun is in total eclipse. Then put the glasses back on to view the rest of the eclipse.

Don’t use do it yourself viewing glasses or solar filters to view the eclipse.

Don’t put on solar eclipse viewing glasses and look through binoculars.


There are a lot of counterfeit eclipse glasses on the market. Several brands of eclipse viewing glasses have been recalled. Please check where you purchased your glasses to make sure they haven’t been recalled.

You can find out where to purchase eclipse glasses approved by the American Astronomical Society here. NASA also has a list of eclipse viewing safety here.




My Top 5 Tips to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier


We will finish our 26th year of homeschooling this year. I started homeschooling our oldest in 1991 when he started kindergarten. I am still homeschooling our youngest that is in 10th grade. That’s a long time! Some days were great. And some days were very, very bad. I learned a few things over the years about how to make my homeschooling life easier.


My Top 5 Tips to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier


My Top 5 Tips to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier


Menu planning
Preparing meals is a large part of our day. planning meals ahead of time makes a huge difference in the amount of time we have to spend in the kitchen. And it saves money, too! Check out some of my dinner menus if you need ideas. When food is ready on time, and the family is fed and happy, there is so much less stress for mom.


-Morning routine

Mornings can be hectic! Having a morning routine will help you get a great start to your day. Figure out the top 5 or 6 things that will make the most difference in your day. My morning routine  has things like dressing to shoes (I work better in tied on shoes then in slippers), eating breakfast yourself (moms often feed the kids but don’t take the time to eat themselves) emptying the dishwasher, putting supper in the slow cooker, etc.

Don’t forget to make the kids their own morning routines. Hang their list in a prominent spot where it is easier for them to see and do. Help them to accomplish the tasks at first, like make bed, brush teeth, a household chore or two, working with them until they become self sufficient completing the list.

-Set aside an hour or two as quiet time
– little ones nap, older ones (and you!) rest quietly on their beds and read. You can either nap your self, read, or catch up on work. Quiet work so you don’t wake the kids!


Develop an afternoon school routine – include those things that will clean up the school area, put away school supplies, grade papers, file papers, gather all the books and supplies you will need the next day, etc. Whatever you feel needs to be done so you have a less cluttered school area, so you can get a good start the next morning


-Enjoy your day! Yes, being responsible for our kids education is serious business. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the journey! Laugh at your little ones attempt at jokes, laugh with your kids about something the baby or toddler just did. Laughing breaks during school are the best kind! Do something fun in the middle of the day. Take pictures of the crazy positions you find your kids in while doing their schoolwork.


Don’t let the challenges of homeschooling rob you of the joy of homeschooling!



5 Fun, Educational Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids


Valentines’s Day doesn’t have to be just about the candy for kids. Here are some fun activities to do with the kids that don’t involve eating lots of candy. They might eat some cookies that they make themselves, though!


5 Fun and Educational Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids


5 Fun Educational Valentine's Day Activities for Kids


Conversation Heart Science Experiments – some fun experiments using those little candy hearts


Heart Attack – write nice comments about your kids on hearts and put them on their doors. Have the kids write comments on hearts for their siblings, too.


Set up a Valentine Station – put all the crafting supplies needed to make Valentine’s in one place so the kids can easily make their own. You can put everything on one desk, or put all the supplies in a bin that can be carried a table or desk when the kids want to create some fun Valentine’s Day art


Valentines Day math with free printable candy heart sorting chart.


Practice using fractions while baking cookies – Get the kids in the kitchen and make heart shaped cookies with them. Let them do as much of the measuring and mixing as they are able to. Measuring involves fractions, so it’s the perfect time to discuss them. Let the kids get creative decorating them.

Sharing the cookies they made with others is fun, too!



Homeschooling During a Crisis

When we have kids we think everything is going to be all sunshine, kittens, and rainbows. And most of the time it is. Then when we start homeschooling we think that the good times are going to continue. And most of the time they do.

But sometimes, things happen beyond our control. Jobs are lost, kids get diagnosed with diseases, Mom or Dad get really sick. Our worst nightmares sometimes come true.

That was the case for me, when in 2000, my then 5 year old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Want to talk about having the rug ripped out from underneath you! Your worst nightmare has been brought to the light of day. And come true.

Whatever your crisis is, whether you are looking for another job, or fighting hard for your child’s health or your own, it takes everything in you to fight. But wait! You homeschool! How can you wage war in this battle and still homeschool? I know I questioned myself. A lot. “How can I keep homeschooling with “this” going on?”

homeschooling in a crisis

I’m here to say you can do. Because I did. And I’m no different from you.

Like in everything else, though, you can’t do it all. Something is going to have to give. Fancy meals will have to be traded for simple, homecooked meals, freezer meals, and sometimes take out. In depth unit studies, detailed science experiments, and lots of field trips will have to be traded for just the basics for a season. It can be done, though. Kids will be fine if they don’t do every experiment or go on every field trip possible.

You will have to set the priorities for your family. Meals, laundry, medical needs, and emotional needs of the children will likely be at the top of your list. Then you can fit in school work in between. Math will be a homeschool priority. You don’t want to get too far behind in math, as it takes too long to catch up. For elementary and middle school aged kids, every other subject can be covered by reading good books. Read aloud when you can, have whoever is watching the other kids while your at doctors appointments or in the hospital read to the kids. The kids can also read for themselves. High schoolers can take responsibility for their own schoolwork and do the majority of their work by themselves. Really. Yes, you are still involved. Picking the curriculum, helping them when they get stuck, correcting their work when needed.  But they can do most of their daily work by themselves.

If you have to take off two weeks because of a hospitalization, the kids will be ok taking an extra two weeks off. Think about it. Over the course of 12 or 13 years of school, is an extra two weeks off going to make a difference? No, it’s not. Even if you take off a week or two several times a year, your kids will still be fine. They will quickly catch up. They will have learned much from reading. Their reading speed and comprehension levels will have increased. This will benefit them in their lessons when they are returned to.

My son received chemo treatments for over three years. During that time, we didn’t do any schoolwork to speak of on clinic days or when he was hospitalized. The remaining kids at home didn’t do any schoolwork on those days either. When my son was diagnosed, our children were 14, 12, 5-the one diagnosed, 3, 2, and almost 3 months old. When he finished treatments three years and three months later, they were 17, 15, 9, 8, 5 and 3. I have been there and done that.

My advice for homeschooling in a crisis is to pray. Then pray some more. Then set your priorities. Daily living, (meals, laundry, etc.), medical needs, (or job hunt, or whatever is needed for your crisis), the emotional needs of the kids. Then school. Relax. Cut your self and your children some slack. If you can barely concentrate on anything because of the overwhelming feelings caused by a crisis, how can your kids concentrate on schoolwork? Circle the wagons. Gather together as a family. Gain strength from each other. Your family can draw closer together and learn much together in a time of crisis. These life and family lessons will be of greater benefit to your children than another science experiment, workbook page, art project, or field trip will be.

You can deal with a crisis and keep homeschooling. I’m living proof.

Our Homeschool Update – Transcripts!


Transcripts. Just the word is enough to send a homeschool mom running from the room. Or is that just me?!


Our oldest two kids never wanted to go to college. So I never made transcripts for them. The next two graduated in 2013 with neither one planning on going to college. Now, they are both talking about going. Our 5th that graduated in September of this year saying she didn’t want to go to college.

So I had to stop procrastinating, and compile some transcripts! I decided while I was doing the transcripts for the 2 now interested in going to college, I might as well do the one for the most recent graduate. You know, in case she changes her mind like they did!


Want to know what I discovered? Transcripts are not that scary after all!


I found that there are 2 basic formats for high school transcripts. Classes listed by year, 9th, 10th, etc. And classes listed by subject, Math, Science, etc, with no mention of what year they were taken. I chose to list their classes by subject. Since we school year round, and the kids have the option of doing more work to graduate early, listing classes by subject works better for us. Especially since one student may be working on 10th grade science, 11th grade english, and 9th grade math, for example, all in the same year.


You can find samples of both styles online. If you are a member of Home School Legal Defense Association, they have editable PDFs that you can download and use.


Now that I have 3 transcripts under my belt, I just need to get my last student to finish his daily work. If there were credits given out for trying the hardest to get out of school work, he would earn them all! Our oldest son  gave me a run for my money while he was in high school, but this youngest son just might be the one to finish me off!


Ok, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic. lol But it is wearing on me that he doesn’t care if he gets behind. While I have always let my kids work at their own pace, I don’t like for them to get behind. If he doesn’t step up his pace, he will be on the verge of getting behind in my eyes.


I’ve been trying to find out what motivates him to work faster. So far, I have found nothing. I don’t give up that easy, though!


So…… have you been working on your students high transcripts through out their high school years, or are you like me and waited until they were finished? Something I don’t recommend, by the way!


To see more homeschooling posts, visit:
Weekly Wrap Up

Our Homeschool Update – Graduation


We recently, as in about 6 weeks ago, graduated another one of our kids from our homeschool!


homeschool diploma


Abby, kid number 5, graduated at 16, just a week before her 17th birthday. She had actually finished all her work about 2 weeks before graduation.


Abby Homeschool Graduation


She wanted just family for the graduation. I always give the kids the option, but she chose not to wear a cap and gown. As per our family/homeschool tradition, Dad did the handing off of the diploma. We have purchased all our kids diplomas form Homeschool Legal Defense Association. I get the blank ones and fill in the info myself.  I like that all of them have diplomas that look alike.


Then we posed for pictures. Me, Abby, and D, husband & father.


Abby Homeschool Graduation Parents


Here’s all 6 of our kids, our son in law, and my mother. A nice looking bunch, if I do say so myself.

Back row: Ken 29, Hannah 19, Zach 15, Abby 17, Melissa 27, C her husband, and Calen 21. Oh, and Granny is 79!


Homeschool Family Graduation


Abby has been our youngest graduate.  She knew she didn’t want to go to college. After her mission trip this summer, she said she wanted to be a youth leader. She will be applying to attend a youth leader training academy (as soon as they are ready for applications, and send us the paperwork!). It is scheduled to start in January, so hopefully the paper work comes soon.


In the meantime, she has been trying to find a job. The trouble she has been having is that most places won’t hire you until you are 18. She did work a short stint as a waitress at a local restaurant. Now she’s trying to find another job to work until she leaves in January. She really doesn’t want to waitress again, or work fast food.


Now, I just have one homeschool student left. 5 down, 1 to go!


Congratulations Abby! You will make a great youth leader!










To see more homeschooling posts, visit:
Weekly Wrap Up

Battle of Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment

Last weekend, my husband, our 19 year old daughter, and I went to the Battle of Camp Wildcat Reenactment. Our other kids usually go with us, too, but they were at a church activity.


We like to go every year, but we have missed the last couple of years. We still had fun, even though there was only 3 of us.


Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


There is a memorial for all those that fought in the battle.


Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment




Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


Reenactments are very educational. If you have never been to one, I highly recommend attending. They really make history come to life.


Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment




Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment




Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


The cannons are loud! Don’t worry, they don’t shoot real cannon balls! All that “smoke” is created with a bag of flour! For real. lol We know some of the reenactors. Even though my kids are older, when they are referring to my husband’s former co-worker, they still call him “the cannon guy”.

Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


At Camp Wildact, the reenactors have their tents set up for historical accuracy and the public is allowed to walk through and ask questions of the reenactors.


Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


There is usually a sutler’s area at reenactments. They sell all the historically accurate items, weapons, clothes, etc. that reenactors need. The public is also welcome to walk through and shop. We have found many unique items over the years that we have purchased. The stores usually stock little souvenirs, too, including items for kids.


This year, we stopped at Ole’ Doc Bell’s for some homemade root beer.

Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


Served from a wooden barrel into the size glass bottle of your choice.

Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


The bottles we chose are capped with a cork. So fun.  I wish I had one right now!


Camp Wildcat Civil War Reenactment


I sure hope Ole Doc Bell is there next year with his homemade root beer!