Classroom Set-Up: Back to Relaxed Mormon Homeschool

It is that time of year again. School teachers and Homeschool moms are very busy right now. It is time to plan for the upcoming academic year of 2017-18. It will be another new and exciting academic year for all of us. It is a very exciting time of year. It is a time to start fresh and look forward to newness and think of how things will be different this year. There is always a hope that each year will be better, easier. There is a great aspiration to have a better set-up which will make finding things easier, which will make us able to do things we do repeatedly and often, more efficiently, and which will make everyone feel in the mood to enjoy togetherness, make friends (or become closer as a family), learn and do school work.


I am well aware that public school and charter school teachers are getting ready as well as homeschool moms like me. My parents were public school teachers until they retired, and I know they were starting to prepare for the new academic year at this time. In my local school district, the first teacher contract day is in a week and a day. Generally, my mom and dad worked at least 3-4 days not on their contract, before the school year began. It is likely that this coming Monday, many Weber County School District teachers will show up at their school, unlock their classroom which has rested from teacher eyes all summer, and will sigh, stare at the walls and cabinets and wonder where they will start in setting up their classrooms.


I remember all those years helping my mom and dad set up. Even for me, as a child and as an adult, it was exciting. I loved making sure all the new pencils were sharpened, and that every desk had a name label, a spelling book, a math book, a science book, a language arts book and a social studies book, along with a new pencil, a new ruler and a new box of pencils. Now I am a homeschool mom teaching my large family of children preschool through tenth this year. I have purchased many school supplies. I have yet to purchase more needed supplies, but for the most part, I have the supplies. We have one table in the homsechool room, so I do not set books there or put name labels on for the kids. I put books and supplies in the homeschool cabinets, lined up and organized nicely, ready for what we will be studying this year.


I have switched out the science focus. Although I hired out for science, I have science books in the homeschool room for when I say that today, I want them to pick a non-fiction science, geography or history book and read it, or when, for language arts, I want them to use non-fiction books to do a research report.


When my public school teacher parents were getting ready for the new year, there was much de-junking and organizing. There wasn’t recycling. They only had garbage cans, but much went into the trash. My homeschool room has to be newly de-junked and papers filed and put away or recycled. I have one full box of school papers my mom gave me and one full blue bin of papers I put in the bin from all the years of homeschooling combined. I have to go through them. Don Aslett called it “the paper tiger” in his book about de-cluttering the office. A homeschool room is very much like an office, but we do have a separate room for the office.  It is needed for my homeschool file cabinet, homeschool workbooks I photocopy, my computer and pur 4-in-1 machine which photocopies, scans and prints. 


I am also making plans for creating more for other teachers to use in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. All of you who are reading this and who have created any tool for a teacher to use (public school teachers, charter school teachers and homeschool teachers) may wish to open a Teachers Pay Teachers store and sell the tools they have made. You can sign up here. It is free to start, (although you will make more money per item if you have a paid annual plan).


Teachers pay teachers referral link

Kayse Morris: Teachers Pay Teachers, for beginners (How to make it look good so it will 

Just make what you need for your own family or classroom 

Suggested Blogposts:

Whole House Home Ed Organization

Homeschool Dailies
LDS Homeschooling
Transgenderism and Homosexuality in Utah Schools Starting with 2017-18
Humanism is a Religion

Tax Refund Means Books and Mess

I know that most mothers who blog about their homeshcooling life paint an idyllic world in order that they may convince others that they should homeschool. I understand why they do it. They do it to counter the negative attacks of the majority of the outside world on homeschooling.

This post will be an honest one about how it is HARD WORK to homeschool! It IS!!! It’s worth it, but it is very hard work! Don’t let anyone make you believe differently! If you are trying to decide and are wondering, I want you to know I highly recommend it but it is not for the faint of heart. I also do not think it is a side thing, to do on the side. It is DOUBLE FULL-TIME work (like an 80 hr. a week job)!

Also, there is no money in it. You are in it for spiritual reasons. You are in it for family. You are in it because you love your kids and because you want to be the one in charge. If you cannot stand having others, like the government, in charge of what your children learn and do for most of the day, these are the reasons for which you are doing this EXTREMELY CHALLENGING thing called homeschooling! It seems impossible. It is not impossible with God helping you. If God tells you to do it, DO IT! If God tells you NOT to do it, please don’t do it. You need His help!

I am going to tell you about the state of the house due to the ordering of books for next school year, which we do much of, with tax refund money. Right now, we are in the thick of it. The children must do their assignments and learning all over the house because I told them 3 weeks ago not to touch the newbooks, which cover the homeschool table.

My lack of desire to decide where to put all of the books has also made extra messes pop up in and at the entrance of, the homeschool room. I absolutely MUST figure out where to put which books, but it is SO MUCH WORK and PLANNING that I do not know where to begin!

I need to do the following.:

  1. Decide what everyone will be studying from April to the end of August.
  2. Take the books they will not use during that period, downstairs.
  3. Put the books they will be using during that time, on the homeschool bookshelf or into the homeschool cupboards.
  4. Go through (Ugh!) the paper stacks and figure out what to do with all of the papers.
  5. Finish cleaning. Vaccuum.
  6. Snap photos and post them on my blog so that you can see I do have a more elevated standard most of the time!

The entrance to the homeschool room.

The entrance to the homeschool room.

The desk in the homeschool room.

The desk in the homeschool room.

papers and workbooks not being used

papers and workbooks not being used

closet and bookshelf

closet and bookshelf

table, including newly purchased books

table, including newly purchased books

Homeschool: History Books for Kids to Explore (Child-Led Learning)

I have not too often encountered questions on how to teach history. However, now and then I do. I love History and my kids do, too. There are a plethora of boring, biased and inaccurate ones. There are many without the right perspectives, or with perspectives which are too narrow and one-sided.

I have enjoyed buying history books which are more well-rounded, entertaining for kids and adults so we will enjoy them, and here, I will help you find them. If you are into child-led learning, you will love these as I have loved them. They do not come in a box all together. You have to order them one by one. That is what amazon.com is for! Since we homeschool, we do amazon prime. It is worth it! We pay a yearly fee and then do not have to worry about a lot of the shipping. Some of the shipping, we still have to pay (to third party sellers).

I went onto wikipedia and (yes, time-consuming, but, later, saves time) I make a list of what I wanted my kids to learn each school year. I cannot afford to buy books on everything. Amazon wish lists are for waiting, and having what you want, on the ready for when money comes. We budget an amount each pay period for education expenses. Every 2 weeks, we can spend a certain amount. It is not a lot bit not too little, either. You can decide on something like this, too.

When I am in the mood, I search up books on rach topic I want covered. I click on “look inside” and look through it. I read the description of each and readnthe reviews. I choose the book that looks the most information-packed, accurate, well-rounded, informative and entertaining for kids (not in that priority order).

Here is one example of a really great children’s book about hostory! It’s great! It was written by someone who is passionate about this topic and was illustrated with the same passion! Johann Gutenberg and the Gutenberg Press

I have told a few people about this method of mine and they have said they do not have time to go through all that, to search up thr best books. I don’t get it, because it is so much fun. Hopefully, this post will give you relief and lighten that (sarcastic) BURDEN of sifting through books. 

 You Choose Interactive History Books Series

These books are amazing! They are historical fiction and historical fact mixed. They are written in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style with real facts mixed in (you can tell by the way it is designed what is fact and what is fiction). It is a great way to see history from multiple perspectives and put yourself into that time period. My kids and I read all of the paths anyway, because we want to.

Ride Like The Wind: A Tale of the Pony Express

This one has an amazing way of telling about what it was like for pony express riders. It shows what the time period is like. The text is so well-written, I feel like I am reading one big, long, poem. I can feel the gorgeous sunsets and can taste the cowboy meals. I can feel the heat of the cowboy fire. I can feel the wind, cold and heat on my face as I ride. When I read it to my kids, we are all pony express riders, cap

Montessori Phonics, Sight Words and Whole Language

There are three different methods I put together to teach my kids to read. I use Montessori Pink reading series of three letter phonics words to teach the a as in pan or cat. Second, I teach the sight words using Preschool Prep products. Third, there are the rest of the words, which my kids can learn with old fashioned books like the Dick and Jane series.

All if these helped form the reader she is today. The old fashioned books use the whole language method, which means they learn by seeing the word and recognizing it by sight. They teach using repetition. The kids see the words again and again. They alsi learn to write the same words.

Sight words, taught using the Preschool Prep products, are very commonly seen words which do not follow the common decoding practices. They include the, a, they, have, he, she, come, of, and many more. They read thewe in the Preschool Prep readers and practice them in spelling by writing them over and over again, too.

I had taught my son, so far using the Preschool prep DVD’s and the Montessori pre-reading. Yesterday, I taught him with the First Book of the Dick and Jane readers, which taught him by repetition and by recognition with sight, the words oh, look, see, Jane, Dick and Sally. Next, he will learn those with funny. Then he we learn all of those and will add to them the words little, big, mother and father. None of these are phonics words.

I teach using all of the above mentioned methods, in tandem, not one after the other. This seems funner, and gives variety to our days. I do not do all in the same day. I do the one we feel like doing that day. The others, I do other days. I have not used them frequently to date. I am going to pick up the frequency now, because he is older.

The montessori pink reading teaches phonics words of three letters, which are words like hat, pan, pot, bat, bus, box, fan, pen, pin, etc., using tiny objects put next to words, on a mat on the floor. It feels like play. To him, it is just a fun game. He watched his sister do it and heloed her. Now he will be doing it in his own.

He also watches the preschool prep dvd’s sometimes when I feel like putting them on. They teach him common sight words. Later they teach blends and digraphs. They have DVD’s, readers and coloring books I use together.

All 3 in tandem: whole language, montessori (phonics) and sight word learning, combine to teach my children to read without being frustrated. They know that sometimes, they will see words they just have to recognize (sometimes they are common and sometimes they are not), and other times they will see words they learned the montessori way. They are excited either way, because they are reading.

Whole House Homeschool Organization

I have surfed pinterest and the rest of the internet, and have found there is no organization system even close to mine, so I thought I’d have to post this to make my system pinterest-able and known by others.

Some home ed moms only have 1 or 2 kids. The same organization system they use, would not work for me, since I have so many different ages and so much less space in my small house. I don’t have a spare room to turn into a “homeschool room,” so we use many parts of the house.

We use the dining room table to do a lot of it. We have a very large white board (non-magnetic) in there.

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We have a small bookshelf and a portable cupboard for organization in the living room, along with a soft chair & 2 soft couches (none which match another) and a piano, which we also use for home ed. That cupboard hosts our day boxes, with each child’s name on his or her own box. It has 2 plastic drawer caddies with a subject name on each.  It hosts dictionaries and textbooks. It hosts plastic bins for art supplies, school supplies, creme divider folders, paper, notebooks, construction paper, etc. In the kitchen, we have another homeschool cupboard, which I plan to use mainly for learning games and Montessori items.

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I have the “cutesy” school calendar downstairs in the den. (“Cutesy” is a word my elementary school teacher dad used to describe how the female teachers’ rooms. I looked.) Also in the den, I have 3 6 ft. tall bookshelves with book organizers from “Really Good Stuff” on them, which I highly recommend. These keep books separated by category, i.e.: Human Biology, Animal Biology, Plant Biology, (child’s name)’s Reading books (a few of these), U.S. History to 1849, U.S, History 1850 +, Geography, Art History, Math, Language Arts, etc.

I then have the office, which has a 6 ft. tall bookshelf, a computer and computer desk to ceiling, and a 5 drawer filing cabinet. It also has a desk, a tall craft caddy, a short and stout craft caddy, a black table, and a 4 shelf thing, loaded with printer paper, cardstock paper, construction paper, 2 pocket folders, 3 hole wide and college ruled paper, drawing paper, binders and spiral notebooks.
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The upstairs bathroom and the shower downstairs don’t fail us, either. They have our spelling lists, calendars and learning schedule, math challenge, spiritual thought, etc., inside plastic sheet protectors.

Homeschooling & De-Junking the books (or de-cluttering the bookshelves)

Some people believe that all books should be kept. Especially if the household home educates. I am not sure where I fit in.

On one hand, books are a necessary part of educating myself and the kids, so they have to be around. On the other hand, I am a Don Aslett De-Junker, who loves to create more space. Space is amazing, and it is something we pay good money for. If you go to a real estate site and look at how much more valuable, houses with more square footage, including the garage, are, you’ll agree. Space is valuable, and houses are listed for $1,000 more, over time, with interest, for 5 more square feet of home.

So call me crazy, but, this home educating mom is prepping for the next local curriculum sale not by saving money, but by gathering books to sell. This is a mom who is fed up with the lack of space.

Truth be told, it is space I’ve had for the past 3 months, when these books have been in taped up boxes, while we’ve been trying to sell this house, so that we can pay $70,000 more than what ours would sell for, to get another 500 to 1,000 square feet to put more books into.

I loved not having as many books to sift through these past 3 months. Now that I have opened the boxes, I am thinking “AHHHHH! I can’t do this! Free me from the prison of junky books!” Because of this, I am rethinking this. Which books will we really use in the next 5 years? Which do I dream the kids will use, but know in my heart, they won’t? Which do I know we won’t use within 5 years?

Some, I will not use in the coming year. I will use them the following year or in some future year. We focused on biology this year. That means I can put away the biology books and get out the books for next year’s science focus: Space, Earth and Physical Science. This sounds  crazy to some home ed moms, who would rather I left all science out. However, I am me, and this is MY HOUSE, and I will do what I want. Not a great argument? Well, it has to be good enough and I have to stop fretting over what the other home ed moms think and be myself.

For me, it will be liberating. I have to eat lunch, though. I have been sifting books a lot today and I am shaky. I need nutrition. I have fresh broccoli and fresh mushrooms upstairs, calling to me.