Category Archives: Homeschool Resources

Making the decision: homeschool or distance learning

Chooseing homeschool or distance learning

 

This year, you are likely making the choice between jumping into homeschooling, distance learning through your school district, or maybe even a hybrid of distance and classroom learning.  Only you can make the decision on which of these options is best for you and your children, and here are some things to consider:

 

The options in your school district

My local school district is offering the option for either 100% distance learning or the normal 5-days-a-week classroom learning for elementary students.  Older students are given the option of 100% distance learning, or a hybrid of distance and classroom learning where they alternate days.  Other school districts may have different options available.  Take a look at what options your school district is offering for the 2020-2021 year as your starting point.  

 

Your state’s homeschool laws

For those who haven’t already learned the ins and outs of homeschooling in your state, I highly suggest reading about the homeschool state laws  on HSLDA.  Every state has different laws, some being very lax, and some states being much more regulated.  Ensure that homeschooling is an option for you before making your decision.  You may need to notify your school district if you choose to go the homeschool route, to avoid visits from truancy officers.  

Depending upon your state’s laws, there are many acredited homeschool programs available online to assist you with curriculum, or you can take the approach and plan out everything yourself.  My family personally enjoys using Accelus’ Power Homeschool, but there are many others out there.  

Understand there are different homeschool methods as well.  Some may work better for your family and comply with your state’s laws than others.  You may also find local homeschool support groups for specific homeschool methods that can help guide you.  School districts and faculty do not always understand the ins and outs of the homeschool laws so please educate yourself on your rights.  

 

Your availability

As a parent, both homeschooling and distance learning can be taxing.  If you are working from home, you will want to consider your availability.  Homeschooling may take more time to prepare, but will have more flexibility as far as the timing.  Distance learning will likely have scheduled meetings with the teacher and classmates, but will have lessons already prepared for your child.  Your child may need you for tech set up, and other questions when the teacher isn’t available.  

 

If you choose to homeschool, stay tuned for more homeschool resources!  

 

CozyPhones – cozy comfy headphones for kids and adults!

Paw Patrol Marshall CozyPhones Headphones for Kids

 

Just before Christmas, CozyPhones sent me a pair of Marshall and Chase Paw Patrol headphones to try out.  I was able to get them added to my 2018 gift guide, but I have been bogged down with multiple family health issues that I didn’t have time for a full review. I’m so excited to finally get around to telling you how much we like our CozyPhones!  

Most headphones are too big for kids; they slide around, fall off, or just are plain uncomfortable.  CozyPhones sit snug on your head and are comfortable, so you can almost forget you even have them on! 

My kids were so excited to have their favorite characters that they immediately put them on and had to test them out.  Since the headphones do require a cord, they are easy to use.  Simply plug in and enjoy.  There is no need to mess around with complicating Bluetooth buttons to set them up.  The cord is actually pretty durable too which is a major plus around kids.  However if Bluetooth is more convenient for you, you can purchase a Wireless Bluetooth Adapter separately.  

My kids use headphones most while working on their Acellus homeschool work.  Wearing their favorite characters definitely made them a little more excited to get started, which definitely makes my day easier!  There is no more fidgeting with and being distracted by their headphones as these stay comfortably on their ears without needing much adjustment.  I was glad to learn that there is a volume limit as well!  

Who wants a pair of CozyPhones for yourself now, after hearing of how comfortable they are?  There are Lycra active-style headphones as well as sleep headphones with a cool mesh lining for adults.  I am so excited and definitely looking into getting a pair for myself.  

And good news – all CozyPhones are washable by removing the cord and speakers to wash the headband.  

What pair excites you most?  Honestly this pair of Unicorn kid’s CozyPhones is absolutely adorable and I wish they had it in adult size ;)  

Valentines Day Ideas for Homeschoolers

 

Valentine's Day Ideas for Homeschoolers

 

Being a homeschool family doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun that comes with Valentine’s Day for kids.  It means mom and dad might have to be a little more creative, but that’s what homeschooling is all about!  There are so many fun Valentine’s themed crafts and activities to choose from that you won’t have time to be bored! 

One great idea is to get together with friends and have your own “class party.”  Get crafty and make your own valentines – check out these adorable Pom-Pom Love Bug Valentines from 5 Minutes for Mom!  If you don’t have other kids to participate, perhaps you could exchange Valentines with family members instead.  Set up a mail exchange so your child can send out Valentines and receive them as well.  This cute Heart Balloon card is simple and fun and grandparents would definitely love it!   

Another fun idea is to find ways to build your meals and snacks around the theme of Valentine’s day.  Start with heart shaped pancakes for breakfast and cover them with red berries or strawberry syrup.  For lunch, you could make heart shaped sandwiches.  Don’t forget desert – Embracing Homemaking has a fun idea for Valentine’s Day fruit kabobs that the whole family will love!   

Don’t forget about some more educational activities as well. Preschool and kindergarten students can practice writing Valentine’s themed words. Those a little more advanced, may want try this Valentine’s Day Word Scramble activity

For a science lesson, check out some of these fun Valentine’s themed science experiments!  You should already have some of the items on hand or be able to pick them up for pretty cheap.  

 

Here are a few more fun ideas:

Heart Suncatcher Activity

DIY Conversation Heart Bath Bombs

Valentine’s Day Photo Frames

“You light up my world” Wooden Mason Jar Craft 

 

Valentine’s Themed Snacks:

Conversation Heart Cookies

Pink Marble Cupcakes

Strawberry Flavored White Chocolate Hearts

Valentine’s Chex Mix

 

Valentine's Day ideas for homeschoolers

Fun places to take your family in northern Illinois

Fun Places to Take Your Family in Northern Illinois

My family recently relocated from central Illinois to northern Illinois so we have had a blast searching down new and fun places to take the kids.  We’ve found an abundance of state parks and museums and I can’t wait to share some of our experiences with you! 

Rockford/Stateline Area 

  • Rock Cut State Park
    • canoeing on Pierce lake
    • Olsen beach swimming in summer
    • hiking trails
    • recreational opportunities
    • great place for fall family photos
  • Discovery Center Museum
    • children’s museum with large outdoor play place
    • water tables, dress up / pretend areas
    • several interactive educational exhibits, events
    • membership available (totally worth it if you ask me!)
  • Burpee Museum
    • award winning exhibits including a young t-rex skeleton
    • 4 floors of exhibits
    • admission varies by age
  • Anderson Japanese Gardens
    • beautiful gardens to visit with the family
    • evening and weekend events
    • closes for winter
    • donation days
  • Nicholas Conservatory
    • third largest conservatory in Illinois
    • sits next to the Rock River
    • 11,000 square foot plant exhibition
    • tickets available online or at the door
  • The Pottery Lounge
    • located in CherryVale Mall
    • paint pottery pieces or canvases in store (paint and cleanup included in price of piece!)
    • in store parties available
  • Carlson Ice Arena
    • skating and hockey
    • public skate
  • Sapora Playworld
    • indoor play structure for ages 5-12
    • smaller structure for ages 4 and under
    • admission fee varies by day/age, discount days
  • Magic Waters Waterpark
    • water slides, wave pool, lazy river, and more
    • area for ages 6 and under
    • cabana rental available
  • Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden
    • year round garden
    • handicap accessible path
    • snow shoeing and cross country skiing in winter
    • butterfly garden in the summer
    • admission fee varies by age
  • Belvidere Parks
    • this smaller town near Rockford has some beautiful parks along the Kishwaukee River that I recommend checking out
  • Byron Forest Preserve
    • hiking, sledding, and star gazing are among the options you have in this quiet forest preserve, just outside of Byron
  • Parks along the Kishwaukee River
    • head south of Rockford and you will find an abundance of parks and nature preserves just off of the Kishwaukee River
  • See more (including event calendars) at Go Rockford

 

Oregon Area

  • Blackhawk Statue
    • located in Lowden State Park, you will find the iconic Blackhawk Statue.  This statue is impressive with its size and serves as a great family trip.  There are nearby hiking areas as it overlooks the river. 
  • Lowden State Park
    • Enjoy scenic views of the Rock River from the Blackhawk Statue or hike the four mile trail!  Campsites are also available. 
  • White Pines Forest State Park
    • Lodge in one of the cute little cabins at White Pines Inn and check out the teepee on the grounds.  Enjoy wildlife watching along one of the park’s two steams, or hike one of the seven hiking trails. 
  • Castle Rock state park
    • A beautiful place to practice photography, Castle Rock State Park is also a fantastic place to take your family on a hike or enjoy the serene scenery.  The views are amazing! 

 

Chicago Area

  • Shedd Aquarium
    • indoor aquarium with 32,000 aquatic animals
    • changing special exhibit (your visit will always have something new!)
    • ticket prices vary, membership available, EBT cardholders receive free admission
  • The Field Museum of Natural History
    • one of the largest natural history museums in the world
    • 65,000 exhibits including temporary traveling exhibits
    • tickets available online and at the door, $3 admission via Museums for All (EBT) program
  • Museum of Science and Industry
    • over 2,000 exhibits in 75 major halls
    • 3,500 foot fall model railroad
    • domed space theater
    • relics from the Titanic
    • tickets available online and at the door, limited tickets for free via Museums for All (EBT/WIC cards)
  • Adler Planetarium
    • three full size theaters
    • space and science exhibitions
    • antique collections
    • Doane observatory
    • tickets available online and at the door, basic pass available for those with EBT or WIC cards through Museums for All Program
  • Navy Pier
    • landmark with 50 acres of attractions including outdoor Ferris wheel, restaurants, cruises, IMAX theater, park, and more
  • Millennium Park
    • outdoor ice rink (winter)
    • outdoor art and theater
    • famous “Bean” sculpture
  • The Skydeck
    • located in the Willis tower (formerly known as the Sears tower)
    • glass viewing area on the 103rd floor with glass floor
    • open all days of the year
    • tickets available

 

Schaumberg

  • Woodfield Mall
    • LEGO store
    • fun eateries including Dave & Busters and the Rainforest Café
  • FireZone
    • anything and everything firefighters…just for kids!
    • check the activity calendar for “drop in” times as some times are reserved for events
    • admission for children (1 adult free per child)
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
    • play zones
    • 4D cinema
    • rides
    • tickets available online and at door, discounts for homeschool weeks
  • Pirates Cove Children’s Theme Park
    • open June – August
    • 18th century pirate ship you can climb aboard
    • children’s paddle boats
    • Castle playground
    • rock climbing
    • admission fee for ages 1-9, adults are always free

 

Bloomington-Normal

While this is more “central” than northern Illinois, I wanted to include Bloomington-Normal because there are some fantastic places to visit here.  Maybe you’ll pass through the area on your way to or from northern IL, or maybe you will just want to take a day trip to check out these places.  Regardless, I couldn’t leave them off the list. 

  • Discovery Museum
    • three floors of hands on exhibits for toddlers through preteens
    • paint wall (just washes away when you are done!)
    • Ag area, water table, and more
    • admission for ages 7 and up, works together with membership of some other museums
  • Grady’s Family Fun Park
    • 18 hole mini golf, go karts, kiddie rides, batting cages, adult/big kid rides and more
    • price varies depending on activity, wristbands available
  • Pepsi Ice Center
    • hockey and ice skating classes, free skate
  • Miller Park Zoo
    • wide variety of animals including wolves, reindeer, Sumatran tiger, and river otters
  • Upper Limits Rock Climbing Facility
    • 20,000 feet of climbing space indoor and outdoor
    • 110 feet tall routes
    • Classes, parties, membership, and day passes available

 

Other activities and places to visit in northern Illinois

 

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