How to Organize Your Homeschool {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

I am one of THOSE moms. You know the one–organized, who can put her hand on any piece of paper necessary in 2 minutes flat & find an email 6 years old about an invite to a family tree all on her iPhone. Can I tell you a secret?

I usually do my homeschool record keeping in a paper book.

I know! It boggles the mind. I was starting to anticipate our year’s progress, when we might finish subjects and be able to slow our pace for summer school when the opportunity to review HomeSchool Office came up at the crew. I’ve been wanting to try a computer-based tracker for years but never made the leap.

homeschool office review cloud based tracking

About Lord Homeschool

A product of Lord HeritageHomeschool Office is a full featured, Internet-based homeschool administration program based in both God & business-oriented principles.

The interface is divided into 5 sections to track almost everything you could think of related to the administration of your homeschool.

Plan – schedule course goals, build a master schedule, setup lessons and even plan your budget.
Order – schedule lessons, integrate home & school activities, create lists & reminders
Work – provide student access, print schedules, follow lessons, manages to-do lists
Evaluate – track grades, attendance & hours spent
Report – create transcripts & crest reports for personal use and to meet state requirements

Homeschool Office allows you to track multiple students, grades and subjects.  You can set up your calendar and automatically assign lessons.  Additionally, you can track outside classes, co-op, other students, tutors and the local school district.  You can add appointments to your calendar, as well as create to do lists for your children for things like chores or instrument practice.   There are also places for creating special projects and creating a budget. Plus you can set students up with their own access for independent use.

Homeschool Office is a web-based homeschool tracker and is accessible from any device with a browser, including your iPhone, iPad or Android device.

How I Used Homeschool Office

I will start by saying that HomeSchool Office is one robust program. Seriously. You can track almost any item necessary for homeschooling through Homeschool Office except maybe a portfolio. There could be more things you might need that it doesn’t do, but I live in Michigan and don’t HAVE to track anything, so I don’t know what it would be missing!

That being said, I am a list maker. If it can’t be tracked, it doesn’t count ;).
HSO screenshots 1

First, I added my students & created our school year master calendar. I love that it tells you how many days you have planned for. If you need a certain number of days, this is really is handy.

HSO Subject Screenshots

Then I added their subjects. This, like adding students & making the calendar, were pretty straight forward.

office-lessons

Then I created their assignments. I spent 2-3 hours on this. She does 12 subjects on a daily or block schedule & I entered every single one of them. Thank heaven for the copy/paste feature! Because I don’t need to track time, I skipped entering time estimates for almost every subject, so this step may take longer for you depending on the detail needed and your data entry speed.

HSO schedule screenshots

Then I spent a ton of time trying to figure out how to get the assignments to populate the calendar. Once I realized that you had to create & schedule a master work calendar (top screenshot above), it populated assignments for each school day that you assigned that subject (bottom screenshot above), skipping any breaks or holidays you put in the school year calendar.

What I was hoping that this would do was tell me when each subject would be completed if it was completed as projected. Unfortunately it doesn’t give you an easy answer to that. You can still find out by going through the schedule and spot checking until the assignment tells you that you’ve run out of assignments.

You can schedule assignments as ‘All Day’ or at a particular time, which is handy when you are making sure you haven’t double-booked yourself. You can add events to the calendar, also. This is really handy when your child is older and can access their own portal. They will be able to manage their time and assignments on their own. My daughter is only 7 and so we didn’t use this feature but it’s there.

HSO - mark completed

Once I entered all that, it was time to use it. Each day, I would go in and mark our assignments completed. You can adjust the assignments in multiple ways, if necessary. You can pull lessons from a previous day or a future day. You also have the option keeping everything else where it is/was, or pushing it forward, or combing them. I thought that I had figured it out but then realized I had eliminated a week of assignments because we did them early. Oops :).

hso grades

I also entered a some grades where I had them (most subjects don’t). In the student setup, you could choose from percentage, description or letter grade. I wish it had the option to use + check – for lower grades. I also wish it gave you ability to compute the percentage (I.e. 15 out of 18) and to change it by subject, but I bet the backend coding would be a nightmare! Another feature it had (but I didn’t use) that would be great for higher grades, is the ability to provide higher weights for tests or quizzes or projects (like in college).

hso - reports

There are options for printing report cards and transcripts as well as tracking attendance, but I didn’t use those.  I did pull up a report or two and noticed that it auto-tracked attendance when you marked assignments completed.

HSO - report excerpt

I did try to work on next years schedule, but you cannot have two school years active at once. Your old year needs to be completed and closed before you can enter any information for the upcoming year. It’s kind of a bummer because it makes using the budget feature difficult unless you don’t buy things until the school year is over.

Summary

Overall, I was really impressed with Homeschool Office. It’s incredibly robust and if you are in a state that requires a ton of record keeping (or you have high schoolers), this is an awesome tool! I love that it’s online and so if my computer dies, my records aren’t gone (yay for the cloud!). Even more, I love that it doesn’t use a crazy interface, but that I can even use it in my iPhone. I could totally see this being super useful for older students learning to work independently, homeschoolers in a state that requires a ton of record keeping, and for pacing your curriculum.

Go see what other members of the crew had to say about Homeschool Office!

Jen S.

disclaimer_zps7f3b646c

Print Friendly

Spring Brunches & Punches

***This article originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It has been reprinted with permission.***

I love throwing a good brunch. Especially being pregnant, it really is the best time of day for me to entertain. I’m pretty much out of energy by dinner and eating late gives me heartburn. Add that to the fact that I LOVE breakfast and have eleventy-billion breakfast recipes (that we’ve been known to eat for dinner at times) and brunch is the way to go in our home.

Spring Brunches & Punches
My children have blood sugar issues, in that if it drops too low they become unreasonable. A good breakfast is key for our kids and I’m sure it’s the same for your little ones. As such, I usually cook way too much to ensure a good selection of kid-friendly, protein- laden & nutrient-rich foods. I’ve gotten my best brunch recipes from friends & church cookbooks. Ask your friends or check out our favorite brunch recipes.

Brunch Menu Options

Drinks
– juice
– milk
– punch

Eggs
– strata
– quiche
breakfast casserole
– scrambled eggs

Bread-based
French toast casserole
– French toast
– waffles
– pancakes
– muffins or quick breads

Meat
– sausage
– baked ham

Potatoes
– scalloped potatoes
hash brown casserole
– potato casserole

Fruit Salad

And if you are looking for an easy but extraordinary punch idea, here is a great one! I love this one because I figured out how to make it for two if you just have your family around AND it scales up if you are having a crowd.

Tropical Fruit Punch

For 2 or 20

  • 4 Tblsp. or 2 (6-oz) cans Frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 4 Tblsp  or 2 (6 oz) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 3/4 c or  1 (48-oz) can pineapple juice
  • 1/2 c or 1L lemon-lime soda
  • 1/2 c or 1L sparkling water

In a small pitcher (for 2) or a large punch bowl (for 20), combine orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, and pineapple juice. Stir to combine, Add lemon-lime soda (like Sprite) and sparkling water to taste.
My kids liked this best of all the recipes I tried and my husband thought it tasted like Sunny D. If you aren’t a fan of the pop because of the (already high) sugar content, try adding some lime & lemon juice and extra sparkling water.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s so easy to tweak based on your taste. You can always add sparkling water to tone it down if it’s too sweet, or omit it if you like the taste without it. Plus you can make it for just your family or for a crowd. That’s my favorite kind of recipe :).

Enjoy!

Jen S.

Print Friendly

Last Minute Resources for Lent & Easter

Disclaimer:  The book and faith folder were received by their publishers in exchange for an honest review.   This post also contains affiliate links; thank you for your support!

Even though Lent is nearly over, there are still two weeks until Easter.   That is plenty of time to work on some Lent and Holy Week activities as well as prepare a few fun things for the Easter Octave.   After all, Easter is 50 Days of celebrating; don’t let it end on Easter Sunday!

Last Minute Resources for Lent & Easter @ Happy Little Homemaker.

Lent & Holy Week Activities

Lent does not always go as I planned or as I wished and so I look at Holy Week as a way to give it a short concentrated burst of looking to God before Easter.   Here are a few last minute activities for the rest of Lent and Holy Week.

 

1.  Sense of the Resurrection

If you have little kids, a Sense of the Resurrection is one of my favorite activities.  There are only 12 activities and they all have to do with one of the 5 senses — tasting vinegar, washing feet and more.  While many people use these throughout Lent, I recommend doing as many activities as you wish during Holy Week.  And because it’s an instant download, you can buy today, shop tomorrow and spend the rest of the week working through it ;).

lent faith folder

2. Lent Faith Folder

My daughter has recently become enamored with lapbooking and I found these fabulous Catholic Faith Folders from Holy Learning.  They were kind enough to send me the Lent Faith Folder to review and it is a fantastic resource for Lent & Holy Week.  The faith folder requires two file folders and has 19 elements on topics like the history of Lent, words we hear during Lent, Palm Sunday, the Triduum, countdown calendar, Stations of the cross and more!  If you were to start this on Ash Wednesday, you would need to do an element every other day to get through it all.

IMG_2861

My 7 year old has been the one working through the Lent Faith Folder and I would consider her to be on the young end of users for this.  Personally, I would think 7-12 would probably be about right.  There are elements for Lenten Commitments & a countdown calendar, but she isn’t yet at the age or maturity to do her own goal setting/tracking so I left those pieces out.  Perhaps we will add them next year.   It’s not too late to make use of the Faith Folder for this year, though!

There are at least 6 elements that could be done during this week and next.   Each element is included 4 different ways– prefilled b&w, prefilled color, blank b&w, and blank color.   This is awesome because I don’t mind using color ink and writing things is a special form of torture for my 7 year old.  Alternately, you could print b&w files on colored paper.

IMG_2859

Each element of the Lent Faith Folder covers the essentials of Lent and is faithful to Catholicism.  It does a fabulous job of sharing the different practices of Lent and events of Holy Week, as well as providing space for tracking the days of Lent and Lenten sacrifices.  You could use this every year as a refresher and moving from pre-filled to blank as skills improve.  You could also slowly work through it over two years.  That’s probably what we will do since we didn’t get to the first few weeks of booklets and things.  My daughter has loved working on it and already asked if we could do a Christmas one :).

 

catechesis-of-the-good-shepherd-style-jerusalem

Photo from CatholicIcing.com. Used with permission.

 

3.  Resurrection Peg People

If you are lucky enough that you already have a stash of blank pegs on hand, you could easily finish the set of Passion Peg People from Catholic Icing to use during Holy Week.  And, if you have wooden blocks, combine them with this interactive map of Jerusalem!  If you have older children, they could make them as a craft instead of YOU making them for little ones :).

Easter Resources

I tend to lose sight of having adequate resources ready to celebrate Easter.  I find that I spend a ton of time getting ready for Holy Week and Easter is usually dictated by visits with extended family.  This year, we are taking Monday & Tuesday off of school to spend a little more time celebrating Easter.

If you are in the same boat, here are some great last minute Easter resources.

1.  The Easter Book Basket

Every year I purchase new Easter books for my crew.  I get out books about Holy Week activities on Palm Sunday and the rest come out around the time of the Easter Sunday vigil (that’s 8 or 9 pm around our neck of the woods).

I recently was sent a new book to review by Laura Wagner, Saint Mary Magdalene and the first Easter Egg.

IMG_2862

Like the book of Saint Patrick, this book likes like the illustrations are made of felt.   This super short story of Mary Magdalene and the first Easter egg is about 20 pages long and tells the story of how Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus and went to tell Caesar of His resurrection.   Caesar, not believing her, said that if he did rise, the egg in her hand would turn red.   It did and that is why we now die eggs for Easter.  I’ve never heard this story before and it is very simply and cutely done.   We were glad to add Saint Mary Magdalene and the first Easter Egg to our Easter book basket.  You can see my review of her book about Saint Patrick here.

 

Photo from CatholicIcing.com.  Used with permission.

2.  Easter Peg Dolls

Now, Laci @ CatholicIcing hasn’t released the Easter Peg dolls yet, but she said that she was going to.  So.  If you love having these peg dolls for your little ones or your older ones need an artistic outlet, plan ahead.   Buy a few bags of wooden peg people.  Her last two sets were only $5 each so you are looking at a dozen peg dolls for the price of one on Etsy.  Go get your craft on ;).

 

Colorful Easter Eggs

3.   Color Easter Eggs

You could either color regular chickens eggs, paint paper mâché or wooden eggs in whatever color scheme you go for, OR you could try your hand at Pysanky.  You can find directions and traditional patterns at PysankyBasics.com and the wooden eggs are available at Amazon.

 

 

Let’s finish Lent strong and observe the Tridiuum of Holy Week and give Easter it’s due.

Need more quick and easy tips and ideas?   Try these:

7-activities-children-holy-week-lent       keep-easter-out-of-lent

 

Have a blessed Lent & Easter season!

Jen S.

Print Friendly

Devotionals for the Little Girl Who is Growing Up {Tommy Mommy Review & Giveaway}

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.  This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!

 

My “newborn” turns two in a few months.  Two!  And if I thought that THAT was bad, I realized that my oldest is now 7.  Seven!  I swear I just had her.  Not only is she not little anymore, but she is working her way through the change from being a little girl to being an honest-to-God big girl.   Being responsible and having privileges and starting to think outside herself.

brave girls devotions giveaway

She is in desperate need of guidance.  And I am a poor choice.  Still working to overcome my own selfishness and failings and learning to be a better child of God, I’m glad to have such great resources to help my daughter as she grows.   I have had the opportunity to read Better Than Perfect and Faithful Friends, both on my own, and with my 7 year old.

These two 90-day devotionals are aimed at young girls ages 7-11 and are spot. on.  Seriously.   Both Better Than Perfect and Faithful Friends are 90-day devotionals.  These are books meant to be used and are affordable grayscale interior paperback books.  Faith & Hope are the Brave Girls guides in Better Than Perfect.  Each of the 90-day devotions is divided into 6 sections, truth, beauties & beaus, Gods design, character, self care, and mind games.  The 90 devotions are centered on doing well for God, but NOT on perfection.  All of the Brave Girls are guides in Faithful Friends.  Like Better Than Perfect, the devotions are broken into several sections.  Faithful friends has 8 sections covering friendship, both with God and others.  Topics include Friendship starters, friendship fixes, quizzes, and even friends from the bible.

While neither book is a prayer journal, both have several journaling pages & prompts as well as games and word searches near the end.   I really love the approachable language and scenarios that bring God’s will & wishes for us into real life!   There is a great mix of practical ideas for living your faith, getting closer to God, and how to care for others God’s way.

Getting and reading these books has prompted me to get back to “special time” with my oldest.  As she works through the difficult transition from little girl to big girl, it’s important to make sure that I am trusted now with the little things, so that she will feel safe to come to me with bigger problems when she gets older.  My 7 year old asks to do these devotions every day.

Better Than Perfect and Faithful Friends are ideal for cultivating relationships with your daughters who are no longer little girls.  If you are looking to form deeper relationships with a niece, Goddaughter, or granddaughter, you would benefit from using this book, too.  Alternately, you could gift it to the young girl in your life for independent reading, but I think it’s ideal for discussion and heart to heart talks.

Would you like to win a set?  Use the widget below to enter.  Please note that a comment is a required entry.  Thank you for your integrity :).

Good luck!

Print Friendly

Simplify Everything 2015 {Task 21 – Gadgets}

Today’s Simplify Everything 2015 task is for those pesky unitaskers.

simplify everything 21 gadgets

I don’t know about you, but I detest unitaskers.   I hate gadgets that only do one thing, like slice bananas, or eggs, or hull strawberries or crush garlic.   Besides having only one purpose, they are usually a pain to clean.  Any time you save on doing is probably wasted on cleaning :).

Do you have a surplus of gadgets in your house or kitchen?  Things you thought would solve a problem, but didn’t?   I give you permission to let them go.  Send them to a better place.

simplify everything 2015

If you recently done this, pick something else or take the day off!

Do you need to simplify the things you need to make your house a home?  Subscribe to my RSS/email feed to get each new post so you don’t miss a thing.

What did you get rid of?

Share with the hashtag #simplifyeverything2015 on twitter or instagram.

Jen S.

Print Friendly