Posted in Book/Curriculum Review, Ongoing Education, Reading

I need ongoing education too!

One of my parenting goals is to further my own education in ways that will help me teach my children better. As the kids are getting older and I have more kids to teach, I see how indispensable it is for me to continue learning myself; especially learning ways that I can be a better teacher to them. The kids each have different learning styles plus I have my own teaching style–all things that need consideration. These are a few of the things I am doing right now to help me teach better:

I read, Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. I’ve seen this book praised for awhile now by other homeschooling moms and finally ordered it because a friend invited me to a Facebook group to discuss the book.

I finished this book fairly quickly. I read about 10 minutes at a time each night until done. I also poked around the authors website a bit, and will probably check it out some more. You can find more info on the book at her website

Much of what I read in the book I have learned the hard way–through trial and error (my oldest is a graduate already and she was the experiment homeschool child!). I enjoyed reading Sarah’s thoughts and related to much of what she wrote. Relating to other moms on the same homeschooling journey is important. We can be rather isolated and left wondering if we are doing this homeschooling thing right or not. I think this book could help many moms rest at ease with all they are doing right and give them some good guidance for those areas that need improving.

The idea of “teaching from rest” isn’t about taking it easy but teaching with confidence and resting and trusting in God. The book explains this idea well and explains why it is vital to a healthy and happy homeschooling environment. After homeschooling for almost 15 years now, I can say I wish I had this book in the beginning and highly recommend it. If I had the money I would buy this book for all my friends who homeschool!

I learned new things from this book, too. I am eager to implement those things in our homeschooling. Using a loop is one I am expecting to be extremely handy. Basically a loop is taking the lessons that aren’t everyday subjects, adding them to a list and scheduling a time to do loop subjects everyday. You do not schedule the subjects by a specific day (like Latin on Mondays) but go down the list every time you sit down for loop time.  I have always scheduled the non-daily subjects on specific days and that tends to make us fall behind or not do them at all on some days.  I think the loop idea will be extremely helpful. We will have three loop lists; one for me, and one for my husband to do with the kids, and the older kids will have their own personal loop list for subjects they need to work on individually. I’m including mainly art projects for them on their loops because these subjects tend to get neglected and only squeezed in here and there.  I plan on making loop subjects a priority in the day to insure we get them done before finishing up the other daily subjects.

Manny’s loop will look something like this:

Read a classic (I just got him King Arthur to read with the kids as a Father’s Day gift)
Music/Singing lessons
Spanish or Latin lessons
Religious lesson

My loop with the kids:

Art History
Art lessons
Latin/Greek Root Words
Catechism — I plan on a daily lesson of the scripture readings and saint of the day already and will include a catechism lesson for the older kids and one for the younger kids in the loop time.

One of my kid’s loop will be this:

Art Lessons on Easy Peasy
Peg Dolls
Creative Writing

Not sure what I will read now that I am finished with Teaching from Rest, but I am thinking something on Classical Education. We follow a classical approach already but further study wouldn’t hurt. Any suggestions? And again, if you haven’t read, Teaching From Rest, trust me, you really should.

The next thing I am doing is taking some lessons from a friend who is a reading teacher. She is allowing me to benefit from her years of experience teaching adults and tutoring dyslexic students. I am shocked–seriously shocked–at how complex learning to read really is. I am grateful my lovely friend is willing to share her knowledge with me. I know the kids will benefit from me learning more.

My first two readers were fairly easy to teach and are strong readers. Though I am seeing how we could’ve improved their reading and spelling skills now. The next four kids who are reading have had different learning styles from my first two and various struggles with spelling and learning. Some fast and easy to pick up, others struggling at times with much frustration for both of us.

One thing which has helped everyone is an online program we use called, Reading Eggs. You can try a free trial at If you do sign up please mention my name so I get some additional time added to our program. I have six kids signed up on the program and have seen a lot of improvement with everyone’s reading skills, plus the kids love it and it frees up time for me to work on other areas. It’s been great for us.

I will soon be breaking the kids into two groups and doing additional phonics lessons with what my friend has taught me and using the materials she has loaned me. Learning to read and spell isn’t as easy as it seems it should be and doesn’t come easy for all students. I will write some more about this as we progress. One of the programs I am going to be using for the younger kids is called, Lively Letters. The other is, Patterns for Success in Reading and Spelling. I’ve bought several books over the years and have never been satisfied with any of our spelling or phonics programs. I am learning that is because each of the kids learning styles are so different and these skills are more complex than I ever thought. I have high hopes for these two new programs and the lessons I am getting from my friend. I’ll let you know how things go as we continue.

There are free webinars and an overview video for Lively Letters. But it is only for a limited time so check it out now if you are interested!

basic set with cards

What things are you doing to improve your homeschooling days? I’d be happy to hear and learn what works in your home.

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Posted in Boys, General, Reading

Farms, Tractors and Little Boys!

Life feels surreal some days here in Wisconsin. Having grown up in Southern California, the life we live now is very different from what we were accustomed to. Seeing my younger children growing up here and knowing this is the only way of life they know is strange to think about. Not that it’s bad at all, it’s just so very different from how I grew up. Different from what our older kid’s younger days were like, too.

Most of spring and all of summer in the High Desert of California were spent in 100 + degree weather. We would take drives at night when the scorching sun finally went down for ice cream to try and cool off. The kids only went outside to play in the very early morning or evening once the sun started going down. I went grocery shopping after dark.

Now we live in a small village (800 people) which is surrounded by dairy farms and corn fields. The nearest “city” is 25 minutes away and has around 33,000 people. Lots of small towns, lots of countryside surround us. It’s normal in the spring and summer to see tractors and trucks with hay scootin’ down the roads. My boys love this!

tractor down road

The three younger boys (6,4,&3) love all things which move, as most boys do. They love seeing all the big farm equipment. They are fascinated by the tractors, the huge plow machines, and the numerous other gigantic farm vehicles that are used around here.


They are also fascinated with farms and farmers. They want to grow their own food, they want to visit the farm animals. They are also into all the local wild life. When we go for drives through the countryside, the boys are on the lookout for wild turkeys, deer, and birds. All of this is so different from the way we used to live! Where are the scorpions, tarantulas, and vinegaroons?!


Today the boys found a video a friend gave us about tractors. They were excited and watched it right away. I found it amusing how much they like these kind of things; this got me thinking about the different kind of childhood they are having by living in the Midwest. Back home in the large Tri-Cities area we lived in a trip to a farm area would’ve been a novelty and a special field trip.

We recently have been reading through the Farmyard Tales book every night before bed. I read it to my older children when they were younger too. Lena saw me reading it to the boys and said, “I remember that book! I loved reading it and finding the duck on every page!” For my younger boys the book is even more exciting because they actually live by a bunch of farms!

Besides the fun of reading the cute little farm stories, I was really excited because Lucas actually read the book along with me! So far his reading has been words and sentences here and there, learning how to read in his workbook and online program, but not actually sitting down and reading any books to me. Just letting me read to him. When the kids are young and just learning to read I’ve learned it is best not to push them too much.


So the first story in Farmyard Tales was Lucas’ first book! He read so well and gained some real confidence in his ability. I was extremely proud of him. What makes this book good for first readers is the dual lines. The top of the page has a short simple sentence. The bottom of each page has more words. You could read the top sentences only and the story is perfect for a beginning reader (or when you want to get through a story quickly). I had Lucas read the top lines and I read the bottom. He really liked us reading the book together. The illustrations in the book are charming and give great clues for the text.



Another fun aspect is the little duck that is hidden on each page. The three boys are excited to find it as I am reading. They scan the picture and focus while they look for the hidden duck. I have to make them take turns pointing it out so they don’t fight with each other in their race to find it! The Farmyard Tales book is a big hit with my kids!

It’s a joy watching children grow and discover new things. A joy, privilege, and blessing to teach them things like reading. I often think of Saint Theophan who said, “Of all the holy works, the education of children is the holiest.” Some days educating children doesn’t feel like holy work, but then some days it sure does, with blossoming readers, curious minds, and new things to discover–those days come easier.

Do you have little farmers in your life? You can find many fun and educational books about farms, animals, gardening and more in my Usborne store. Here are a few of the great books I have to offer you for your kiddos:

Spot on the Farm

1001 Things to Spot on the Farm –Kids love looking at these fun books! This charming picture book shows scenes from farms around the world, and on every page, there are dozens of things to spot. The detailed pictures provide hours of looking and talking, and dedicated spotters will be unable to put the book down until they have found all the water buffaloes in the rice fields, the cocoa pods on the tropical farm, or eight lambs on the sheep farm. Counting sheep has never been so much fun!

farm animals

Farm Animals — A book for 5-7 year olds. How do pigs keep cool? Why do farmers shear their sheep? Which farm animals live underwater? In this book you’ll find the answers and lots more facts about farm animals around the world.

farm activites

Farm Fun — An activity book! This delightful activity book is specially designed for sharing with young children. There are lots of ideas for drawing and painting, fingerpainting and cutting and sticking. As well as being fun, the activities will help to develop important skills such as hand control, coordination and concentration.

tractor book

Wind-Up Tractor Book — This book is so much fun! It has a little tractor toy and tracks inside the book! You can play and tell stories with this fabulous interactive book. Wind up the tractor and watch it whizz around the tracks, and use the pieces to tell the stories.

Tractor sticker book

Build a Picture Tractors Sticker Book — One of several tractor sticker books available. Add all the busy tractors, animals and drivers to the scenes to create the pictures in this delightful book. There are more than 100 fun stickers to play with.

too many tomatoes

Too Many Tomatoes — Eric Ode’s rollicking, rhyming garden story combined with Kent Culotta’s exuberant illustrations will have readers, tapping their toes (and digging their dirt, and sowing their seeds) as they count the too-many tomatoes overgrowing the garden, the building, the block … and more!

Grandfather’s garden

is popping with peas.

It’s buzzing with blossoms

and bumbly bees.


It’s bursting with berries

and beans and potatoes

and tall, twining vines of

too many tomatoes.


farmyard tales

The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales with CD — The book I wrote about above. This delightful book contains all 20 of the popular Farmyard Tales stories. Young children will love Stephen Cartwright’s charming illustrations of life on Apple Tree Farm, and the gently amusing stories of Mrs. Boot, the farmer, her children Poppy and Sam, and their animals, Rusty the dog, Curly the pig and Woolly the sheep.

I have many more books to offer about animals, farm life, gardening, and much much more. Visit my Usborne bookstore and share these exciting and educating books with the children in your life. Let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for your support!



Posted in Uncategorized

Spring Days and School Outside!

These spring days have been heavenly! The weather is perfect, lilacs are blooming, birds are out and chirping around, butterflies are fluttering about, the days are wonderful right now.

We do school work year round but being motivated to sit inside and get schoolwork done during the day is not happening! This is fine because we can simply switch our schedules around and take advantage of the weather, and get out and soak up the sun!

Today we are headed to the park first thing instead of getting chores and school work done. We can do those things tonight. I am going to take a couple of the new Usborne books I just got in the mail with us so I can read them to the kids.

Very First Books of Things to Spot Out and About is an adorable little book. Between the little boys digging in the dirt and sliding down the slide, I’ll read it to them and we’ll see if we can spot anything from the book at the park. I’m also taking, How Flowers Grow. When all kids take a break from playing and are having a snack I am going to read this book and we can discuss all the pretty flowers popping up right now.

spot our and    0000290_how_flowers_grow_ir_300







Yesterday we did a lot of yard work and some gardening. Good science, P.E and math skills put to use! We had a bird rescue operation going on, too. A nest that was in our garage fell down and Vivi found it. She scooped up the baby birds, put them back in the nest and we put the nest up high. We aren’t sure if the mama has returned to feed them, but we have seen her flying in and out of the garage, so hopefully the babies will survive. A lesson about life for the kids.

I intend to do as many outdoor activities as we can for as long as we can! All the book work and online work can be done at night. I am thinking a nature scrapbook would be fun to put together and we need to do some serious birding. Garden tending and maybe some more flower planting sounds like a  good idea, too! All that and lots of good reading outside between frog catching, bird watching, soccer games, and picnics!

What are your plans for spring and summer with your kiddos?

*The links in this post are not affiliate links but links to my personal Usborne bookstore. You can find a lot of great nature and activity books to use right now in my store. I appreciate your support! 


First blog post


Hello! Thank you for your interest in my new blog and business. I am excited about this new education blog where I will share my family’s homeschooling, curriculum, books, and any other pertinent information.  I’m also excited about having just become an Usborne Consultant.

Usborne books take up a good amount of space on my family’s bookshelves. We love the books and I look forward to sharing them with you, along with all the other great books and things we have discovered over the years and will discover in the future. If you aren’t a homeschooler yourself it’s no biggie. Home education is for everyone; every parent is concerned with what their kids are learning and should be involved every step of the way of their child’s education. I will be sharing our experience as homeschoolers but what I share I hope will be useful to everyone.

Thank you for stopping by, please look around the website and don’t forget to follow the blog and like the Facebook page! Please let me know if you are interested in hosting an online book party to earn free books, need help with an order, or have a of question. I look forward to helping you get Usborne books on your shelf and sharing our home education adventures with you!

–Jessica Archuleta