Preparing Our Hearts for Easter

Prophecy Path to Calvary

Crown of Thorns Centerpiece
Crown of Thorns Centerpiece

There is no better way to reinforce our trust in who God is, then to review the prophecies God made in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of them in the New Testament as it pertains to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Great preparation for Easter!  My pastor wrote the devotionals and I drew the pictures.  (He is so gifted at writing in layman’s terms.)  I used the Lenten calendar as the bases for the time table.  The first 40 days (including Sundays) review a prophecy (Bible and Devotional), the last 6 days (Easter Week) include a hands-on object lesson that will help the children have fun while learning, along with the Bible reading.  This is a great way to bring in excitement and learning to our family devotional time(no matter the family size).  I have just completed  the Devotional Book.  If you would like to purchase this great resource for 7.00 (includes shipping),  just press the “Buy Now” below.  Lent starts next week!

Open devotional

Prophecy Path to Calvary Book $7.00 (includes shipping in USA)

Directions for Crown of Thorns Centerpiece: A great interactive center piece!  Using a grapevine wreath, stick 46 toothpicks into it.  Each devotional time of Lent, light the candle and remove one of the toothpicks.  Easter day they will be all gone…He has Risen! (The centerpiece is not included in the price.)

Find Out More About Lent:  What’s in the Bible Website has a great post on the history and practice of Lent.


Decluttering my Life to Free my Brain

Pictorial-Reusable School, Chore and Hygiene Schedule

Pictorial-Reusable School, Chore and Hygiene Schedule

Two weeks ago I was drowning in life.  Adding a severely restrictive diet (without recipes) to my regiment was enough to through me over the edge.  In addition, I was being the kid’s “brain” to remember their responsibilities, which means my brain was scattering in 5 different directions.  I was literally losing my mind.  The system we had was scattered and too teacher intensive with my new constraints.  I needed a parent-teacher conference…fast.  My kind husband took the kids to grandma’s for the weekend and I had an intense parent-teacher weekend.  Here is some of the clarity that came out of that weekend:

Areas needing Improvement:  Hygiene, Chores, Schooling

Pictorial Task Sheets
Pictorial Task Sheets

Keys to a Successful Motivational System

  1. Clear instructions: These instructions must come from you, but how many times do you want to say them?  I made some picture/title instruction sheets for each chore.   I placed them on the wall of the room they were to be carried out.  You still need to train the kids, but these can serve as a reminder (in place of you).
  2. Punishments:  Each child got 5 privilege cards.  The privilege is to stay up until bed time.  The punishment, if they lose all 5, is to go to bed one hour early.  It is all very logical.  The extra sleep will help them do better tomorrow.  They lose their privilege cards by disobeying, not doing school work, or being mean.  The older they are the less warnings they get before a card is taken.
  3. Rewards: All good systems have both rewards as well as punishments.  I have a ring of Prize cards they can choose when they earn 30 praise cards (about 2 weeks).  I tried to think of things they would love, but wouldn’t cost us a great deal of money.  i.e. sewing with mom; bike ride with dad; free swim; ice cream float…  Praise cards are earned as the children complete the expected tasks in hygiene, chores and school work.
  4. Concise goals:  I wrote out the my expectations in a chart.  And this time they were actually obtainable for our family.  I added check boxes for each day of the week they needed to complete the task.  When they complete the tasks in one of the three areas, they get a praise card.  There is another area that they can gain a praise…extraordinary character.  Near the refrigerator I have a list or extraordinary behavior that we will be wanting to see.
  5. Easy of maintenance:  I needed something that I could reuse.  In fact they can flip to the next day, and it is ready to go.  I love the cute little magnets that connect to the white board and represent every activity known to man.  My problem wasn’t creativity…it is practicality.  The last thing I want to do at the end of the day is fill out a white board or organize velcro tabs or magnets.  I needed something that continued along without me.  The schedule I came up with doesn’t need me at all.  They check the boxes as they complete the work.
  6. Central location:  All the other management schedules I’ve done had the parts scattered all over (at least 3 rooms).  I put a magnet on the back of every day of the week and I connected them together with rings.  I also made sure there was a marker connected to the sheets.  Everything I need to keep track of it is on the refrigerator.  Including the Responsibilities Chart (which includes hygiene and chores).  The same marker can be used for both charts.  The praise and privilege cards are near my desk.  And the chamber that holds the cards for each child is also near my desk, but out of the reach of little fingers (up high).
  7. Proper start:  I found that it works best if everything is in place before I start.  This is suppose to decrease stress.  If I’m not ready and I have to scramble to catchup with the kids…stress will creep in.
Privilege Cards
Privilege Cards

What do you need:

  • Praise cards (cute die cast cutouts)
  • 5 day school schedule with marker (one laminated sheet for each day)(diversely different levels can have their own schedules)
  • Responsibility Chart (hygiene and chores) with check boxes
  • Privilege cards with magnetic clothes pins to hold them (I used a cute picture of them doing something they loved.)
  • List of Extraordinary Character
  • Praise Card receptacle that can hold the paise cards for each child (Dollar store shower caddy
  • Prize cards (come up with 10 things your children love to do that don’t cost too much- and that you never get around to doing)
Praise Card Pockets

Praise Card Pockets

My Family Responsibilities PDF (click to download)


Kid Friendly Homeschool Schedule

Kid Friendly Schedules

Kid Friendly Schedules


  • 4 sheets of construction paper/child
  • 36-50 velcro dots (at minimum 24 hard and 12 soft side)
  • clear packing tape
  • Markers
  • Optional: laminator (Costco for under 19 dollars)

I was putting up my new history time line along with my general before-homeschool organizing and it came to me.  A schedule is like a time line for your homeschool day.  I use a modified Work Box system (by Sue Patrick).  It is absolutely invaluable for hyperactive or autistic children.  I think all kids would benefit from seeing their work visibly decrease as they go through their day.  I just don’t have the space for 48 boxes in a 1300 square foot house.  Or the time to manage that many boxes!  My modification:  All the kids have a portable file box.  There is a hanging folder for every subject and absolutely everything needed for that subject is in that folder.  For example, If that subject needs a dry erase marker or chalk, I create a pocket for those items.  The pockets are made from clear packing tape.  It is great stuff by the way.  You just make a lining, the size of the item, (just two pieces of clear plastic tape with sticky sides stuck together) and then use the tape on the outside to stick the item to the inside of the folder.  Be sure you leave space for the item.  I put the object inside the pocket area and then stick the whole thing to the folder.

File Boxes with Folded Schedules

File Boxes with Folded Schedules

My kid friendly schedule is a half of a piece of construction paper (in the child’s favorite color), with 4 lines on it (divided equally), laminated, and taped together, end-to-end, with clear packing tape.  It creates a personal time line.  Stick one hard sided velcro dot in the middle of each section.

Cards:  Make little cards for each subject (for each child, including lunch and snack), laminate them and put a soft velcro dot on the back of each.

Card Catcher:  After the child is finished with that subject/task they are to put the card on a card catcher at the side of there file box.  (You can put it on the side of their desk if you don’t have a box.)  To make it, draw 12 equal boxes onto a piece of construction paper and laminate it.  Place a hard sided velcro dot in the middle of each box.  I use clear packing tape to connect the catcher to the side of their box.

How does it work:

I put the cards on their schedules —> As they move through their day they put the cards on the card catcher —> When there are no more on their schedule…They are finished.

Preschool-Kindergarten Schedule

Preschool-Kindergarten Schedule

Preschool and Kindergarten:

How do you fit preschool learning toys into folders?  I have color-coded, star-shaped activity cards on the schedule that match the star cards on the containers.  The containers have hard sided velcro dots on the front of them.  I just put the learning toys (with everything needed) in the box and place the corresponding color-coded, star card on the box’s velcro dot.  He knows the star cards are activity cards and looks for them on the shelf beside him.  I only need 2-4 activity boxes for him.

I’m organizing now to keep my sanity later…during the homeschool year.  It is some work putting these together, but it is valuable.  The children tend to be more independent, because they don’t depend on me to be their schedule.  I can spend my time savings on teaching questions.

I also have a free downloadable planner for older children.  It is black and white, but they can add the colors they love.  (It is half book size like my Simply Planned Homeschool Planner.)


Exciting, Low Cost School Tools

Great Homeschool supplies do not have to be expensive!

Here are some favorite “must haves” from Oriental Trading Company:

Stacking Pencils

Stacking Pencils

Stack-able pencils (Bulk!):  I don’t know about you, but do you have a hard time finding pencils with points.  Or if there are points when the kids start, they always seem to break at the most inopportune times.  The huge case of stack-able pencils solved this problem in our house.  They are 14 cents a piece and there are 11 points in each pencil.  They save lots of time and headache.


Kid Scissors (Bulk):  There are so many crafty people in my family that the scissors seem to always be lost.  (Despite the container labeled “scissors” that has ample space for them.) At Oriental Trading Comp, you can get a dozen for 10.50 all year long.  (.88 a piece)

They also have a lot of educational visual aids that help the children have fun with learning.  Here are some neat ones:

Money Flip Chart:

Fraction Flip Chart:

Time Magnet Chart:

Human Body Flip Chart:

Along with many sticker learning sheets for almost everything.

Be sure to check for coupon codes.  Oriental Trading Company almost always has one.  I like (

Homemade Finger Paint

A Recipe for Homemade Finger Paint

Finger painting Fun

Finger Painting Fun

Summer is a great time for outdoor finger painting.  It was super fun for the kids.  It has a kind of semi-translucent quality.  We even used the extra on the shower walls without any adverse affects.  (I did clean it off right after she got out.)

Finger Paints:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup clear liquid dish soap (I used Dr. Bonners Peppermint Soap)
  • 5-10 drops food coloring (chart for colors is after the craft recipes)

Mix sugar and cornstarch, add water.  Heat slowly over low while mixing continually until it is thickened.  Add dish soap and food coloring.  Divide into 3 bowls & let cool.  It is like making “painting pudding.”

Finger Art Work

Finger Art Work