Do you use lapbooking in your homeschool or classroom? You might think – been there done that…or lap – what? Well, today at the Happy Hive we are going to visit the much blogged about topic of lapbooks.

If you want the short version, check out my video:

Lapbooking isn’t a new concept. I used it from day 1 when I began homeschooling in 2006. I’m sure it existed before that. I have no idea to whom to give proper credit for “inventing” lapbooking, but I praise whomever it is mightily.

In a nutshell, lapbooking is a cut-and paste of information onto file folders or notebooks. It’s interactive and engaging for most (but arguably not all) learners. Remember everyone learns different. If you have a learner who isn’t into the creative mumbo jombo- they may not enjoy this type of expression at all.

You can create your own lapbook, purchase them, or do a combination. There is no wrong way! Here is a sample of a lapbook I created many moons ago (and am currently updating)

We used colored cardstock as our “cover” each of my children had their own color, and every lapbook or notebook was always that color.

All the interactive elements are then compiled over the course of the unit study and added inside the file. This was actually a year long project. We completed the assembly, then continued to add to the elements as we went.

This lapbook also holds information you can’t “see” – notice how the dated entries (in the second picture) stop in July of 2010. The untold story is That I returned to the classroom full time in August 2010, so our homeschool dynamics shifted (Topic for another post! YES you can work full time and homeschool). We put this calendar lapbook in our 2010 time capsule and the memories came flooding back! You can read about setting up the time capsule HERE and about the big reveal HERE

The Happy Hive creates lapbook curriculum for both Holidays and general curriculum needs. Be sure to check out our Lapbook Template Pack as well as what we have to offer in out Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Be sure to follow us for more great Homeschool tips and of course visit the Holiday of the Day section for great ideas for celebrating something out of the ordinary every day!

Enjoy the Journey!

Mrs. Crabtree

We all have a different reason for choosing to homeschool

We all have a different reason for choosing to homeschool. Unfortunately for homeschool families WE get asked about our reasons, unlike our public and private school counterparts. Identifying your CORE reason for homeschooling can help your answer sound less defensive.

Listen to Christy talk about this subject, and share her CORE reason for homeschooling in this video.

This post also discusses the topic, but is not a transcript of the video 🙂 

Perhaps you have several reasons for homeschooling.  You might come up with a list:

Avoid cliques and bullying

Provide a better education

Give my children the power of choice

Avoid state testing

Religious reasons

Differently abilities (IEP or Gifted)

Ultimately, you know your kids best of all. What are your instincts telling you?

One thing to remember when answering this question from well meaning friends and family is that – there is no WRONG way to go to school. We need ALL SYSTEMS. Every family is making the right choice for them. Answer their inquiries with love and kindness and most of all patience. Own your reasons without making them doubt their own choices. Invite them to a park day or event held on a traditional school holiday. Share your successes on social media. Celebrate the success of other-schooled friends. 

When you do get questions, after answering, ask questions back – keep it positive and non threatening. Ask your family and friends what they love most about their school,  and let them share! Tell them you would love to come to so-and so’s next (insert event here…. Play, awards ceremony, festival, fundraiser, etc). 

If you’d like help discovering your core reason for homeschooling – whether you’re new to homeschooling or you’ve been homeschooling for a while,  grab these free guided journaling pages to help you decide what your core reason is for homeschooling. The packet also contains a page where you can compare the top three homeschool choices in California the PSA the ISP / Charter or enrolling with a PSP like the Happy Hive. 

You can find a little bit of background information about the 4 legal options for homeschooling in California on our: 4 Legal options to Homeschool in California Page. 

Feel free to share your core reason for homeschooling in the comments section and be sure to CONTACT US with any questions or concerns about homeschooling! 

  • enjoy the journey!

Christy “Mrs. Crabtree”

How much does it cost to Homeschool? The answer might surprise you!

How much does Homeschooling cost?

My answer might surprise you… then again, it might not.

I’m not going to discuss the cost in terms of finances, I’m going to discuss the cost in terms of actual life cost required now or in the long run… as stated by Thoreau….

If the actual financial cost is what is worrying you, we will cover that another time. There are plenty of free resources out there, it doesn’t have to cost a thing financially to homeschool!

Kids spend 6.5 hours a day, 180 days a year in school. Do the math. It’s staggering. Their entire childhood is traded away sitting at a desk. That’s pricey.

As a former classroom teacher, I’m sorry to say that’s not all spent learning. A lot of those hours are recess, lunch and wasted time. Jane and Johnny have to be allowed to go to the bathroom whenever they ask after all. I had a file full of doctors notes that said so.

Not to mention how much time is wasted quieting a class or transitioning from subject to subject? What about the interruption when students arrive late or leave early.

In a class of 30 students, this is a DAILY occurrence. These are just a few of the external “costs” involved in sending your child to school. I didn’t even mention behavior disturbances or phone calls from the office….

If they are struggling with schoolwork for ANY reason. That’s pricey.

Bullying – I actually don’t like that term. I think kids need to learn how to deal with kids, but seriously – I watched teacher after teacher ignore issue after issue. Kids should feel safe and loved, end of discussion. I spent the last 5 years of my career in charge of “discipline”. I took a different approach, called my self the student support coordinator. It was beautiful how open the lines of communication were. Not all schools are war-zones.

Another common “cost” is to the students who are excelling and have to sit and wait while the teacher explains things for the 10th time. As a teacher I could just hand them another worksheet, or the iPad…or I could use them as peer tutors (which was what I actually did! – valuable, but not ideal!)

As a homeschool family, by the time my children were in late elementary, middle school… We finished our lessons before lunch and had all afternoon for what I called free choice learning. Talk about the price being right! We jam packed more learning into one day as a homeschool family than I did in a week as a classroom teacher. (Well, I might be exaggerating a bit to make my point, but we did finish a full day in AT LEAST half the time!)

We didn’t have “homework”, but instead we had family time for “hidden” learning in puzzles, games, reading and educational television. Cooking dinner together is quite an education.

A little round of Star Wars Monopoly – great homeschool lessons here!

As a classroom teacher, each year I received a new class of students. I invested countless hours getting to know each of them, forming personal connections to foster a positive learning environment. Just as things were going smoothly, my 180 days were up and I was forced to turn the class over to the next teacher in line whether the students were ready or not. Whether the teacher was competent or not. Summer passes, and I did it all over again.

With homeschooling I already HAVE the connection with my children and we moved along naturally when ready, and never before. No calendar or testing agenda dictated progression. (I homeschooled by filing my own PSA – Private School Affidavit. Results with a charter may vary, but are still similar) I grew WITH them 365 days a year because learning never stops. We didn’t take summers “off” but instead shifted our learning with the seasons.

Summer time Volleyball in the back yard

From this perspective, the cost of homeschooling is priceless! I am trading my days, nights and holidays for the complete education of my family.

The only cost of homeschooling is your time! Investing in my children has been worth every minute. You don’t have to do it alone!

Enrolling in the Happy Hive Private School Satellite Program (PSP) frees you up to worry about all the GREAT things involved in homeschooling and we will take care of the paperwork and legalities! You will be operating your school- your way, with the guidance of a fully credentialed teacher.

Our services include taking care of requesting cumulative files…official letters of withdrawal as well as help selecting curriculum and transitioning through what we call de-schooling. (or un-schooling).

Check out our information page : Happy Hive Education Consulting

Feel free to contact us with any questions and take a look at the video where Mrs. Crabtree talks about the “Cost of Homeschooling” for more great information!

Leave a comment below and share with us your thoughts on the cost of homeschooling.

Would you like find out how you can easily fit homeschooling into your day? In this video, Christy discusses how!

Copywork is essential in my homeschool curriculum.

Why? Well…

I don’t use a formal language arts (reading, writing, spelling, grammar) curriculum. I have my children read and write examples of good written work! – that’s why copywork has been essential in my homeschool!

Simply put, when I find a great quote, or even something my child is interested in. I write it down (or type it on the computer) for them. Their responsibility is to read the sentence, or passage to me, then to copy it EXACTLY as it is written, in their BEST writing. This is copywork.


I look for passages that model good grammar, quality word choice, and are interesting. My son has indeed completed copywork on video games. I’m sure that is not at all what Charlotte Mason would have intended, but it worked for us! The gift of homeschooling is YOU are the designer. My son also copied his share of bible passages and famous quotes. I tried to balance everything.

Mario and Luigi fight to save the Princess. While this is not mindblowing literature, or an earth shattering statement. I was very much able to motivate my son who was bored with the same copywork routine by adding these gems in there. He even made suggestions! It was a wonderful opportunity for us to customize his education, and for him to own his learning.

One year our copywork coordinated with History, and the kids were able to draw pictures to go with what they had copied! I loved this added artistic component.

When my middle daughter was re-reading the Harry Potter series for the third time, I had HER select her own favorite quotes and use them as her copywork.

Every formal “English/Grammar” lesson I taught in the classroom can easily be taught with no fuss and muss through copywork. Even spelling. My children have learned to spell through reading and writing and have never had a formal spelling lesson nor spelling list/test!

Bible verses make excellent copywork, as do quotes from your favorite novels.

I too practice the discipline of copywork. As with everything we do, being a good role model for my children is important.

Copywork by age:

First learn to write – handwriting instruction. The copywork is simple letter formation.

A reason for writing – scripture based handwriting curriculum.

This Series begins with Level K and continues by grade level (A being grade 1, and F grade 6. Level T is a transition from manuscript to cursive)

Handwriting without Tears series – this program begins with K and ends in grade 5.

As soon as your learner can copy short phrases, copywork can begin. God is Good. (for example) is simple enough for a pre-K or Kindergarten writer,

As your writer advances they can move to copying longer sentences, to paragraphs.

We did not use formal handwriting past cursive (3rd grade) and we incorporated copywork beginning mid-year kindergarten. But every child is different. Everyone learns differently. Please listen to the balance of learning for each of your learners and adjust accordingly.

There are a million different possibilities for how copywork can look in your home, or even your classroom.

One sentence/verse a week, copy each day – recite as memory verse at the end of the week.

New one each day Monday – Thursday – pick favorite and copy again on Friday. Copy onto decorative border paper to display.

Simply complete one a week and have a ‘set’ at the end of the school year of = Famous quotes, Bible Verses, Dates in History, Fun Facts…etc. (This same concept can be done daily.)

Older siblings create copywork for younger siblings.

Happy Hive homeschooling is working on copywork to accompany the Holiday of the Day curriculum. Check our TeachersPayTeachers store. You can also request custom copywork and we will do our best to meet your homeschool or classroom needs. Copywork makes great “morning work” as students enter the classroom.

Put on classical music, sit together and practice the art of good writing.

  • May your journey be blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

What do the kids call you when you Homeschool?

Most people are instantly concerned with WHAT tools they are going to use to homeschool their children. I was more concerned with WHAT the kids were going to call me! Among the many things to consider when looking at the choice to homeschool, this may not keep you awake at night. But here at the Happy Hive we came up with a clever solution.

  • Enjoy!

I’d love to hear about what you do in your homeschool. Feel free to comment.

If you would like to chat about homeschooling, homeschool methods, curriculum, etc. I’m happy to! Check out my Happy Hive Homeschool Consulting page, or send me an email!

  • Christy AKA “Mrs. Crabtree”

Time Capsule Reveal

I really love the MEMORIES feature of Facebook. The things that pop up more often than not are great, especially now that time has passed. They are like a daily time capsule themselves!

If you have children, grandchildren, or even for yourself, I highly recommend setting up a time capsule. The concept is easy. I just used a box. You can read about it HERE

This one focused on the kids for sure. I put away plenty of school work samples. – That shows you where we were in 2010. Upon reflection, that was my last year as “just” a dedicated Homeschool Mom. After that I was pulling double duty – homeschooling and working as a full time teacher.

How things were spelled was a constant source of laughter. It reminded me that spelling, and correcting spelling on everything doesn’t matter! All 3 of my children are fine. When they write for their current assignments spelling is NOT an issue!

This is Lauren’s favorite item from the box. Her spelling, as the oldest at the time (9 years old) isn’t to bad. The sibling relationship is coming through loud and clear. And to think I didn’t want to send them to school so they would not get picked on or bullied. Snort. Siblings are the best at that stuff!

Megan chose the same worksheet as her favorite. Her spelling was always very inventive! She is 8, and this is before her reading took off. I am a firm believer that children learn how to spell by being exposed to words through reading. I promise, Megan got better and better the more and more she read. She will never be the National Spelling Bee champion, but she can hold her own! I also noticed she didn’t put her name on the paper. That was EXTREMELY common in our school. I didn’t need them to. I knew who’s work was who’s…and we knew when we were passing it out 10 years later too!

Douglas chose this as his favorite item from the box. This was the first thing we completed on New Year’s Eve 2009, and then again on New Year’s Day 2020. At 5, Douglas wasn’t doing much writing. His approach served its purpose, and homeschooling is all about just getting it done.

I keep an item of clothing for each of them. The “shorts” I had for Lauren started out as pants, and she loved them so much when they got to short for her, we cut them into shorts. Lauren just grew taller, never much wider!

Megan’s was a shirt. Boy did that girl love horses. This shirt brought all that flooding back. I even found a picture of her wearing it!

Megan in 2010 with her Parade Float creation. NOTE: Megan is wearing fake glasses, She wanted them so badly, she just wore clear lenses we got at the 99cent store. She had about 5 pair!

Douglas’ clothing item was best of all. He was complaining that it was inside out while Lauren held it up for us to see… it wasn’t. The fact was… Douglas wore this shirt so often it wore OUT!

So then he said, well I was 5, It had Pirates on it!

Douglas wore this shirt my Mom brought him from Catalina for approximately 4 years! That’s CrAzY.

Here is Douglas in 2007 wearing the shirt. He would NOT let me retire this shirt until it did NOT fit anymore!

Trying on the Dr. Seuss Hat for size
Original Dr. Seuss hat. Probably fit better because his hair was shorter!
Lauren enjoys reading the “childish” things she wrote, still able to relate to them today. She has always liked sleeping!

Here they are, now 15, 17 and 18 Holding their favorite items from the box.

I’m looking forward to the TIME I have with my three bugs and the Memories we will make from today forward. I hope you enjoyed looking back at our memories as well.

Stop by again to see what Homeschooling adventure we have! And be sure to check out the HomeschoolHoliday Blog – because there is always something to celebrate!

It's been 10 years! – Time to open the TIME CAPSULE!

In December of 2010 we created a time capsule. It was a simple bankers box. I don’t remember everything I put in it. On the outside it is covered with “warning” signs: Do not open until 2020! That’s in 3 days!

The Gandara Family Time Capsule

I know we filled out some sort of questionnaire and put it on the inside. I also know that I placed a duplicate copy of the same questionnaire in a file folder on the top of the box and it says: COMPLETE BEFORE LOOKING IN BOX.

The idea is to compare our answers and see all the changes 10 years have brought.

This is the paperwork in the file folder, I created these in 2010. I wasn’t very clever I guess.

I put the box in our garage in the same location as the Christmas Decorations, so I have seen the box every year for 10 years! I’m excited to gather together on New Years Day to open the box as a family. I hope you will come back to the blog and see what we discovered.

For now, you have PLENTY of time to create your own 2020 time capsule.

I created a FREE printable packet get you started. It includes “instructions” and ideas for your time capsule, a questionnaire for NOW and one for “later”.

sample page from time capsule packet

I don’t like to spend my days “wishing” but comparing the two pictures, it sure would be nice to have them that little again. I do very much enjoy my young adults (when they are home!)

I wish you blessings as the new year approaches! I hope you will share and follow our blog/website!

  • Christy

Losing a Beloved Pet

Life changes in the blink of an eye. Minnie was fine one second, paralyzed the next. Our 7.5 year old kittie had suffered from a blood clot breaking loose and lodging itself in his aorta, causing him to be paralyzed in his hind legs. We though he hurt himself by jumping down from the bunk bed, but we could not feel any broken bones. Minnie was crying in pain and I knew, although it was 11pm, something had to be done fast. Telling Douglas that we had to take his cat to the emergency clinic and likely we were not bringing him back home was not easy. I didn’t ever think about how I would EVER have that conversation. Looking at my 3 children say goodbye to their pet while I try to stay strong was almost impossible.

Douglas came with us. I remember when I told my Dad I was coming with him when we put Mittens to sleep, but I was MARRIED! My 15 year old son just lost his best furry friend in the world. I could avoid the whole thing by never having animals – but then Douglas, Megan and Lauren would never know this important life lesson:

Animals love unconditionally, never asking us anything in return until this very moment when they place their fate in our hands. My love for Minnie in return is what lead me to my decision. Could we have spend $$$ on a kitty cardiologist, hospitalization and the CHANCE Minnie would regain use of his legs after weeks and weeks of painful recovery and nursing? Perhaps, but that would be selfish in my opinion, because Minnie would continue to suffer, he would have been separated from us for long periods and then one day…poof, another blood clot could release and go to a different part of his body, like his brain. We gave Minnie the best 7.5 years we could. Until we meet again my fur baby!

Now to explain it to Jack, Princess and Penny – they don’t understand where their brother went.

Douglas and Minnie 2011

Private School

Did you know I ACTUALLY don’t HOME school… I run a Private School – IN MY HOME… that’s what ALL homeschool families do in California. My homeschool is just as legal and official as those tuition charging, fundraising, uniform requiring private schools attached to religious institutions. My children, and the children enrolled in the Happy Hive Satellite Program, have the HONOR and PLEASURE of attending the Gandara Bug Academy Private School.

So when people ask your children where they go to school, you can, if you wish, be truthful and state – “We attend a Private School”… or, like we do – be loud, and PROUD and tell them you homeschool!

P. S. These three have not grown up. They are addicted to Go-Go squeeze. We had no such invention when they were small enough to use them, so they are making up for lost time. So much for higher education!

Family Dinners

Family Dinner – Before I lost my job eating out was a weekly occurrence.

Now we are reconnecting over our own dining room table. The premise is the same. 

This is how we stay connected. It’s easier to talk about life when we are
sharing a meal together. Part of Thomas Jefferson Education style is taking
time to go out with each of your children. I have time for each of them at least
biweekly as well as specific family dinner time weekly.

 As the kids get older, I notice it is easy for things to be fragmented.

If we are eating out,  after everyone orders, and while we wait for food,
we put down our phones and we share something about our week.

At home after everyone is seated with their plates, we go around and share.
Easy.  Some days, quite honestly the kids are NOT into it… I have learned
to let it go… forced activities are not what homeschooling and connecting
are about. I just try again next time. If the pattern continues I need to dig
deeper and figure out why. I never let it go more than twice… and they know it 🙂 

How do you stay connected to your older schooled / homeschooled kids?
Feel free to comment below.