Meaningful Money Lesson for young learners

Interactive lessons are NOT just for older students! This week for the next installment in the Happy Hive Homeschooling product review series we are going to take a look at curriculum from Froggy About Teaching that is designed specifically for learners in Kindergarten and First grade. This interactive curriculum is off the page! Not your traditional pencil and paper assignment – the K-1 Coins Pack is designed for use with Smart Boards, Google Classroom, Seasaw or other similar virtual learning platforms.

30 page power point for $3.50 available on Amped Up Learning

As a curriculum coach, I am going to show you how you can use this product in both a HOME setting for extra practice, if you homeschool, or as a classroom teacher. How we get good quality curriculum into the hands of our learners matters not, we just need to do it! Homeschool Holiday is here to support education in all it’s forms – and our product reviews aim at giving you a wide range of materials to use with learners!

Debbie Mendoza began her teaching career in 1990. She has worked with Kindergartners, 1st , 2nd , and my personal favorite 4th grades. Debbie has shared her educational talents as a regular education teacher (although I see nothing regular about what we do!) as well as serving as a bilingual elementary teacher for Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grades. To put the icing on her career cake Debbie taught elementary Spanish and was an ESL teacher for grades K – 4. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bilingual Elementary Education and ESL and has a minor in Spanish. Her Master’s Degree is in Curriculum and Instruction.

To relax Debbie enjoys gardening, watching nature and the night skies, reading and camping. She is a teacher that looks for ways to entice students into wanting to learn and loving to read. Debbie has partnered with Happy Hive Homeschool in making quality Digital Resources. She freely shared her knowledge with me so I too could bring my clients quality digital resources for their homes and classrooms! We are both teacher authors on the Teacher Marketplace, Amped Up Learning.

The K-1 Coin Pack asks our young learners to recognize pennies and nickels (both sides), count them and assign value to items using these coins. In the Google Classroom/PowerPoint option, learners are required to slide the coins into place as well as type values into pre-designated text boxes.

Students slide the appropriate number of pennies down from the top into the boxes to match the price for the items.

When using SeeSaw, students can use the tools to “write on” the worksheet and return it to the teacher. (SeeSaw has many other options as well!)

Sample digital response from Seesaw

If you would like to use the packet in a more “traditional” manner, you can easily print the pages as a PDF file and have your learner work on the pages using the pencil paper method.

Regardless of the method chosen, with 30 jam packed pages, your learners will have a solid understanding of both the penny and the nickel when they finish these activities. Froggy about Teaching is following up with Set Two, using other coins as well. Be sure to follow them on Pinterest as well as their Froggy about Teaching Blog. I am confident you will love their primary level activities as much as I did.

Until next time – Be blessed friends!

Mrs. Crabtree

If you have questions about homeschooling or would like to supplement your child’s public/or private school education ,   Whatever journey you are on, I can help. Happy Hive Education Consulting is run by an experienced homeschooling Mom with a California Teaching credential. This unique combination of experience allows for a customized partnership between her family and yours.

  (Check out what others have to say HERE)

Reach out and CONTACT ME anytime!

*Disclosure regarding the “EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT REVIEW” series: Homeschool Holiday/ Happy Hive Homeschooling does not accept any payment for reviewing products from other Teacher Authors. I do recieve the product being reviewed and provide my HONEST, educated opinion about how the product can be used with my target audience: Educators in all their forms: Parents, Homeschoolers and Teachers.

I will be linking to Teacher-Author blogs and the stores in which they sell many their products. Purchase at your own risk. My opinions are my own and meant to help guide your curriculum and educational decisions.

The SOLUTION to your Math PROBLEM – and other easy language changes every educator (and parent) can make.

The words we use as educators are so important. Have you ever done the “Wrinkled Heart activity”. It’s a kindness lesson. Read the story Chrysanthemum, no matter the age of your learners or if you’ve read it before. Then give each person in your family or classroom a cut out heart. Have them wad the heart up into a ball and unroll it. It’s all wrinkled. See who can smooth it out again…it will never look like the fresh crisp heart they were handed. Words are powerful. Before you speak, think and be smart, it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart. Feel free to download the free printable for this activity from our Curriculum Club. It includes a link to the book read aloud as well.

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If you would like to see the video that accompanies this blog post I have included it below. It is not a word for word transcript of the post, but mentions the same or similar language to use.

In our homes and classrooms we have a CAPTIVE audience. They listen to our every word. Every year I was so and so’s favorite teacher…until they went to 5th grade, and then he or she was their “favorite teacher”. But during my 180 days as favorite, it was vitally important that each and every student feel successful, safe, and loved.

The overall purpose of the educator is to guide learners. You can’t teach anyone anything honestly. You can only present the information, and the learner must absorb and apply the information. Everyone self educates. Everyone. So if you are a parent, or a classroom teacher, your job is to simply guide the day and keep kids safe. They have to do the learning. Here are the ways I guided my children and the students I encountered as a classroom teacher.

When I was in High School my freshman year, Mrs. Harris told me I was a Genius. I can’t even spell it (trust me the red squiggle came and I just had to fix it for this post) She had a magical way of teaching and relating to students that made me BELIEVE her. I liked Science for the first time in my life, because of the words she used. Funny thing, she called ANY student that went and asked her questions GENIUS. All of us. I wasn’t special, but it didn’t matter – she communicated that she BELIEVED in me. Try it. Start calling your kids Genius. (Don’t forget to look them in the eye and if possible touch them on the head or shoulder for personal connection.)I bet you will see a difference immediately in the quality of work you get.

Nice work Genius, next time remember to put your name on the paper.

Only a Genius like you would turn in this quality of work, thank you.

I’m impressed Genius.

And the magic of Genius is in this: Ask them who they think is a Genius. Likely they will say someone like Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton or even someone like Elon Musk. Then research their FAILURES. YUP even a GENIUS’ makes mistakes – so it is a believable statement that you call a child Genius.

You can also focus the praise on the WORK not the child. Think about “Good Dog” – “Bad Dog” – it’s not REALLY the dog that was good or bad, it is the behavior, the dog is actually clueless without the proper training. Children are the same. (Sorry if comparing kids to dogs is a bit much for you!) Their ACTIONS and the WORK they produce are where our focus should lie.

I’m impressed with how that turned out. vs You did great on that project.

Big question: what happens when they don’t do so great? There will be a reason, and nothing is likely WRONG with the child, but instead the mistake is a further opportunity for growth. Mistakes are the ONLY way to learn, but we as adults know this. Children fear mistakes. The language we use can help guide them passed the fear and into the comfort zone. That’s where true genius awaits.

If I could have been paid by the number of times I heard a child say “I can’t” or “It’s too hard”, I would have made up the salary difference between my private school salary and my public school equivalents! Where does that idea come from? Those words are banned in my home and my classroom. To help re-train their thoughts, I say: You can do hard things. Whenever a child says: I can’t or any equivalent statement, I tell them to try phrasing it another way (what is the REAL problem) and I encourage them by saying :You can do hard things.

So, what do we do when a child needs help? When they were learning to walk we held hands, removed obstacles, etc. Now as they continue to navigate through these hard things it is important to understand help vs doing. Coming out and simply blurting: Do you need help? that’s it, they do… the authority “thinks” they need help so they MUST need it right? Instead try: I’ll be at my desk if you need help. I always added the phrase, It is okay to interrupt whatever I am doing. I discovered sometimes learners were not asking for help even though I was always available because they didn’t want to bother me. Sweet things. I’ll be walking the room if you need help, just call my name if I don’t notice you.

I do look like I’m getting some serious work done here. This picture was taken by a student who was in charge of taking pictures as her class job!

Another common issue that would have increased my riches was “not understanding the instructions”. As a teacher in the trenches, this is a tough one. I have seen it used as an avoidance tactic equivalent to the “I have to go potty”. It’s amazing how they don’t understand, but haven’t even done one task. How do they *know* they don’t understand? Many times it goes back to HARD THINGS. The learner heard you, they *know* what to do, but not quite HOW to execute it. Instinct makes us want to say: I’ve already explained this, just try. I have used those words myself, because no one HAS to go to the bathroom during Math every day even when I teach Math at different times every day. SOMETHING is going on and it’s not a small bladder. What I choose to say instead is: Let me show you another way. I have gotten other teachers because I have run out of ways to explain. But I always find the solution to the underlying trigger for avoidance, or genuine misunderstanding. (Not always in one day mind you!)

Now, let’s think about the word PROBLEM. What is the first thing that comes to mind… something along the lines of a situation that needs to be worked out or solved… Does the word PROBLEM have a positive vibe or a negative vibe to it? Do you want to have a lot of problems to solve? I sure don’t! When it comes to Math however – that’s what we have – we have Math PROBLEMS – things that need to be worked out, Finding the solutions is a GOOD thing! Yet so many of our learners struggle with Math. What if we change the LANGUAGE we use surrounding Math?

Math is a subject I watched countless students struggle with by the time they arrived in my 4th grade classroom. They already saw Math as a “problem” and defined themselves as not good at it. (The I can’t syndrome!) Changing the language we use regarding math is critical! Just being a cheerleader and telling a learner they can do it, keep trying is not enough. They have PROBLEMS and we are helping them solve the wrong one!

Try assigning things like: Math Calculations (any of the traditional math operations). Whole different ball game. The official term is : MATH OPERATIONS. Play up the surgery play on words, we dig into math and like a surgeon, we operate and get to the solution… WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

Historically Math was called ciphering . The mathematical definition of ciphering is: to use figures in a mathematical process. (Miriam-Webster) It’s also related to writing and solving code – like a secret agent. Imagine your home or classroom filled with secret agents solving ciphers! What an exciting place…or you can get out your Math and work the problems.

It’s always been a MYSTERY to me why anyone would need that many watermelons, but hey – critical thinking skills are important. When learners are faced with what we know as “word problems” the YUCK-meter goes off the charts. Good strong readers turn into jello when faced with words and math mixed together. Just change the language – Give your learners a Sherlock Holmes hat and off they go to solve the Math Mystery of the day! I have a set of Math Mysteries to get you started. They can be used with students in as young as 2nd grade and as high as needed for training purposes.

Purchase our Math Mysteries by clicking the image and visiting Amped Up Learning.

A final thought on the words we use. In my classroom I stopped giving tests. Yup – you read that right, zero tests were given, I simply had students complete and activity called: Show What You Know. “Tomorrow we will have a {Show What You Know} over Chapters 5-7 in Charlotte’s Web.” We did them in every subject! I saw a dynamic change in my classroom. As a homeschooling mom I NEVER gave tests (or even show-what-you-knows). Working with my children one on one I had the feedback I needed to evaluate learning and make decisions as to curriculum adaptations, etc. But if you do use tests, or a charter school that requires tests, change the language surrounding the activity. As adults, you and I both know that I was able to clearly determine if Chapters 5-7 were comprehended based on the “Show What You Know Activity”. Good bye test anxiety, at least for the 180 days they were in my class.

Changing your language is intentional, and it takes TIME. Start slow, and stick with it. Remember you can do hard things. If you need any support for your schooling, or have other great ideas for language we use with children, please feel free to reach out. I would love to see your comments!

May your educational Journey Be Blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

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Science curriculum that (almost) teaches itself !

I’m a big proponent of self education. I don’t exactly leave the kids ALONE all day, but I like to leave them alone, as in giving them enough SPACE to discover things on their own, and then we talk about those discoveries and dig deeper. While the kids are schooling, I am also schooling. I model for them what learning looks like. This happened in BOTH my home and my classroom.

This week for the next installment in the Happy Hive Homeschooling product review series we are going to take a look at HOMEWORK – Science HOMEWORK to be exact. You don’t have to use the product as homework, it can be used in class, as homework or as a together assignment in your homeschool. It’s that versatile.

For those of you just joining our product review series this is only our second installment. You can catch up HERE. Each week we will present to you our honest review on products you can use with confidence in your homes, co-ops and classrooms to meet the needs of your learners. Each of them are created by teacher-authors like myself (small, family oriented businesses)*.

May I present to you: Light and Color Science Homework Experiment.

Available from Teacher Toy Shop on Amped Up Learning for $3.50

 Science (unless it comes naturally to you ) is an area as parents, we doubt our ability to be the “teachers” and in my experience as a curriculum coach, lean the most on curriculum. Forgive me if I am projecting!

Can I let you in on a secret. My two oldest took actual SCIENCE classes because I doubted my abilities as a science teacher as they reached High School. And, as a classroom teacher I had a Science teacher as my mentor both when I began teaching in the late 1990’s up until I left the classroom. The scientific brain is a wonder. GOOD CURRICULUM IS ESSENTIAL.

In my experience, textbooks never explained adequately WHAT was supposed to happen in an experiment or WHY it was supposed to happen. I needed my mentor to explain so many of the GAPS the the teacher’s manuals of the day had. But NO MORE!

Teachers’ Toy Shop has a line of products that not only meets those needs for the educator, but are EXTREMELY engaging to the learner.

Nancy was a middle school Science teacher for 11 years, however she writes her curriculum in an easy to follow format that is NOT for the Science specialist. I mean this with the utmost respect – who, after all is buying Science curriculum!?! It’s those of us that don’t entirely *get* Science. We need all the help we can!

The Light and Color Homework available for $ 3.50, asks learners to first answer a series of questions, then color a simple picture using markers or crayons. The questions follow the Scientific Method using a gentle tone rather than : these are the steps of the Scientific Method every scientist uses, blah blah blah. For example, the Hypothesis section states:

HYPOTHESIS: What do you guess is the answer to the problem? Why?

Having the steps of the Scientific Method labeled and use kid friendly language in this manner allows learners to become familiar with it in an unobtrusive way – especially for those who shy away from Science.

Included in the Science Homework Light and Color packet you will find: teacher notes, a reproducible lab sheet for your learners, the after experiment teacher (parent) notes which explain (with a photo) what learners will have observed, along with a kid-friendly explanation. (This means we under stand it too teacher-moms!) It also includes real-world applications.

For example – In the Light and Color Experiment, learners can draw other scenes to produce the same effect. They can “trick” their friends at the next book club meeting and then you will know they understand the concept.

Nancy also has experience with teaching Math, which isn’t surprising as Math and Science are so closely related. Nancy not only has extensive classroom experience, but also spent over 10 years working for various companies making educational toys and games. She is currently a freelance writer for educational publishers as well as a curriculum developer for her business Teacher Toy Store on both Amped Up Learning and Teacher’s Pay Teachers.

As a classroom Teacher Nancy sought to assign MEANINGFUL Science homework in which students could make discoveries at home. This is what lead to her creation of her line of HOMEWORK SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS. There are currently 6 items in this line. Separately this would cost $22.00, Teacher Toy Shop has them bundle priced for $11.00 for all 6!

A big PLUS aside from parents and teachers understanding the material is that everything you need are BASIC items you would have at home with no further expectation that students would need to purchase anything – meaning these Homework Experiments are print and go ready! That’s right up this busy homeschool mom’s alley!

Another great aspect of this line of curriculum is the shock value. The experiments result in a surprise ending. In my Light and Color experiment, an image appeared before my eyes. It was very cool! I could not wait for one of my children to wake up so I could try it out on them! This is the EXACT reaction you want your learners to have.

Nancy has two school aged children who occupy most of her time, however when she can she enjoys astronomy (with or without telescopes) and taking pictures of her kids. I may just have to convince her to meet up some time so we can compare pictures and perhaps scrapbook together, which is what I like to do in my spare time! (We both live in California!)

You are welcome to purchase any of the individual Homework Science Activites- however as I mentioned, Teacher Toy Shop does have 6 that are available as a BUNDLE

The Bundle comes with: Light & Eyes, States of Matter, STEM Engineering , Light and Color (reviewed here) Density, & Sound Waves.

If you have been wondering how to help your students, or a child in your home engage with Science, start with the Science Homework Experiments available from Teacher Toy Shop. They get the Happy Hive seal of approval.

You can also connect with Teacher Toy Shop on Facebook.

Until next time – Be blessed friends!

Mrs. Crabtree

If you have questions about homeschooling or would like to supplement your child’s public/or private school education ,   Whatever journey you are on, I can help. Happy Hive Education Consulting is run by an experienced homeschooling Mom with a California Teaching credential. This unique combination of experience allows for a customized partnership between her family and yours.

  (Check out what others have to say HERE)

Reach out and CONTACT ME anytime!

*Disclosure regarding the “EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT REVIEW” series: Homeschool Holiday/ Happy Hive Homeschooling does not accept any payment for reviewing products from other Teacher Authors. I do recieve the product being reviewed and provide my HONEST, educated opinion about how the product can be used with my target audience: Educators in all their forms: Parents, Homeschoolers and Teachers.

I will be linking to Teacher-Author blogs/Facebook pages and the stores in which they sell many their products. Purchase at your own risk. My opinions are my own and meant to help guide your curriculum and educational decisions.

Writing curriculum that really works. Really.

We don’t educate in isolation. I’m a firm believer In having a team. I  never used one curriculum exclusively. I believe in finding what FITS for every situation. I’m always looking for things I can use with my clients. That’s why they trust me – I’m NOT all inclusive. Working with Happy Hive doesn’t mean I feed you a bunch of holiday curriculum all year and say have fun and walk away. I pride myself in finding what works for YOUR family. I also don’t want you to break the bank.

As we head into summer I know many families (and classroom teachers)  are evaluating their curriculum choices for next year.

This is the first in a series of product reviews on items you can use with confidence in your homes, co-ops and classrooms to meet the needs of your learners. Each of them are created by teacher-authors like myself (small, family oriented businesses)*.

First up: Writing with FRAMEs: The Elementary Edition Persuasive Essays.

$2.00 for the FRAMEs model and Sentence Stems

 I chose this product because aside from reading comprehension, my next most asked question is: How can I help my child become a better writer?

ELA in Middle School

ELA in Middle School has a line of products designed to help address this very important need. Their writing FRAMES series (both the Elementary and Middle school level) are $2.00 each. Those that have been upgraded to include editable Sentence Stems are $2.50

Matthew and Suzanne have a fantastic line of products designed to walk students (and their educators) step by step through the writing process.

The buzz word for this is scaffolding. Just like the scaffolding we see on a construction site, or the simple act of helping a toddler walk, scaffolding in education is providing tools learners can lean on for support.

Matthew is a Middle School teacher specializing in English/Language Arts. He also uses his time to educate other teachers on product creation. He was even an owner-operator truck driver in a past life! (Why would this truck driver’s wife include a fact like that!?!) Matthew’s diverse background gives him a keen business sense and a gift for mentoring others in education. Suzanne holds a degree in Animal Science and is involved in the educational world as a substitute, an intervention specialist in both Math and Special Education. (Intervention specialists tend to hone in on HOW kids learn – translate that into well written curriculum!) They both create curriculum for teachers with their primary focus being on Middle School as well as classroom management.

Matthew and Suzanne are blessed to have 4 grandchildren living with them who are homeschooled. (ding-ding-ding more love from the Happy Hive!) This caused a natural expansion of product offering by adapting and developing things to fill the needs they saw with their grandchildren. So while their name is “middle school” their offerings range from elementary to high school.

My own double life as a classroom teacher and homeschool parent causes me to overanalyze products, always on the lookout for things PARENTS can use that don’t require “buzz word” 101 before I recommend they use it. ELA in Middle School has products that need like a glove.

I was struck right away by the detailed notes for the educator using the curriculum. There are detailed step by step instructions on how to guide a “Scholar” through writing a persuasive essay. Both a veteran and an up and coming educator as well as any homeschool family could easily  follow and implement the simple straight forward strategy.

Designed to be a rough draft work, the FRAME is  the perfect introduction to persuasive writing.

The set includes “Sentence Stems” for students to use in their writing. One of the challenges of writing, regardless of the task (Persuasive, Informational, Narrative) is WHAT to write, learners often get hung up “thinking” about what they are going to write for an entire class period and not truly getting much accomplished. They are paralyzed by not having the “right” words. Sentence Stems are the tool to help students launch right into writing with the tools they need.

You are welcome to purchase any of the individual FRAMEs available in the ELA in Middle School Store, but I highly recommend the BUNDLE. At the Elementary level this is a basis for everything I need for a foundation of good writing.

The Bundle comes with: Persuasive, Informational. Summary, Personal Narrative, and Argument Analysis.

5 writing FRAMEs and Sentence Stems for each! Only $7.20 for a full foundation of writing curriculum!

If you have been wondering how to help your students, or a child in your home become a better writer, start with the FRAMES available from ELA in Middle School. They get the Happy Hive seal of approval.

Also feel free to check out their blog: Wandering the Halls of Academia – Teaching and Living Today They blog about teaching, and living life with meaning.

Until next time – Be blessed friends!

Mrs. Crabtree

If you have questions about homeschooling or would like to supplement your child’s public/or private school education ,   Whatever journey you are on, I can help. Happy Hive Education Consulting is run by an experienced homeschooling Mom with a California Teaching credential. This unique combination of experience allows for a customized partnership between her family and yours.

  (Check out what others have to say HERE)

Reach out and CONTACT ME anytime!

*Disclosure regarding the “EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT REVIEW” series: Homeschool Holiday/ Happy Hive Homeschooling does not accept any payment for reviewing products from other Teacher Authors. I do recieve the product being reviewed and provide my HONEST, educated opinion about how the product can be used with my target audience: Educators in all their forms: Parents, Homeschoolers and Teachers.

I will be linking to Teacher-Author blogs and the stores in which they sell many their products. Purchase at your own risk. My opinions are my own and meant to help guide your curriculum and educational decisions.

Self Evaluation – Have your learner evaluate their own work.

April 2020 Curriculum Club Newsletter

*This article was first published in our Curriculum Club Newsletter. Not a member? It’s easy to join! Simply Visit our page: JOIN THE CURRICULUM CLUB and great articles about educating your kids will arrive in your inbox every month as well as a deeper look at our curriculum, upcoming holidays and Member’s Only exclusives!

Self Evaluation By Mrs. Crabtree

At the Happy Hive I always felt it was important that because the kids were working on topics they chose, that they should be the ones to evaluate the quality of the learning that took place and decide if they were ready to move on. 

Each day I asked them simple things like: What was your favorite part of our learning activities today? Why? What would you do differently, Why? Sometimes they would tell me they wouldn’t do anything differently – that was important too! What made that day’s activities work so well?  These conversations led to choosing their best piece of work for the week to display and why other work wouldn’t be on display. Often they put more effort into things they were passionate about, but eventually learned to balance the less favorable assignments. I always kept the conversations focused on the learner and what was important to them. Every assignment doesn’t have to be done to the highest standard, at least not in our house. Balance was also important. Let me explain. 

My son was born with vision issues. His penmanship never conformed to “traditional” standards. We never made it an issue. He answered the questions asked in the simplest manner possible. There were never extra words, and often it was correct, but messy. What would be the point of having him re-do work that wasn’t neat? Even when I KNEW he could do better? He really didn’t care how his writing looked, his goal had always been to just get the letter onto the paper because of those first visual challenges. He eventually learned how to control his writing and bring it into somewhat of a legible print. Cursive was learned, and he can do it, but he chooses print. He never liked how his writing looked, but also never chose to make it look better. It just wasn’t important to him, and that was ok with us! He completed the tasks given. He preferred to spend hours building book report scenes out of Legos. We’d get a scene from History, Literature, etc. We knew if he wanted to set his mind to a task, he could – and that was what was important. 

The Boston Massacre in Legos.

As a High School Junior, his current Language Arts program of choice is writing a book. He’s using a computer thankfully! Simply allowing him to progress and choose his course and not make writing an issue has paid off. His writing is descriptive, his characters developed and he is writing so much more than the days of simply the basic answer! 

I am here to mentor the learners in my school, not judge (grade)  them. If they evaluate their own learning, they are better equipped to take more and more responsibility in the planning as they age. It’s a beautiful thing! 

 I’d love to hear how you  evaluate work in your Homeschool. Feel free to send me an email! 

– Mrs. Crabtree

Evaluating Work and Giving Grades

As the year winds down we are approaching report card season. Just as there are many different approaches to homeschooling there are many different approaches to report cards and how work is evaluated.  Be sure you are familiar with the legalities of documentation regarding homeschooling in your state, providence, or country. It may also depend on if you are an independent homeschooler, with a Private School Satellite Program (Like the Happy Hive) or under a Charter Umbrella.

With that said… even if you are required to keep and record the most traditional of grades and assign report cards, that doesn’t mean you have to show them to your children…but I’ve rushed to the end.

What is the purpose of grades in a school setting? Grades give students feedback about their progress and provide them with motivation. Grades give teachers feedback to plan instruction. It also provided teachers with insight into a student’s strengths and weaknesses.  On an administrative level, Grades provide information about placement and skill level.

I hope we can agree that grades are only one small peek into the whole learner, yet they are given 100% of the decision making weight in a “Traditional School” setting.

These grades get placed onto a report card that then “follows” a learner from grade level to grade level and from school to school.

What is the purpose of a report card? The purpose on the most basic level is to record growth and track a student’s progress. Schools want “proof” of learning. Parents who send their children to school want proof of learning. A report card is a tool that can provide that proof. Parents are not in the classroom all day… but parents ARE in the home school all day… So are grades and report cards needed in a home school setting? You can see the learning and the progress first hand day after day, year after year.

Homeschooling with a PSA here at the Happy Hive, in order to evaluate learning, I asked each child one simple question: Is this your best work? If the answer was yes, I took the work and we moved on. If the answer was no, the work was returned and completed again until it was “best work”. We did not use grades or report cards – ever.

You might wonder what would prompt a child to say no… this isn’t my best work…after all, they  were self evaluating without a word from me as I never contradicted their evaluation even when I was dying on the inside.

This is what I did instead:  “Great sweetheart, what EXACTLY makes this BEST WORK?” Sometimes they take the work back without another word, and other times they find some little thing on the page. Kids are harder on themselves than we would ever be most of the time.

Beginning this from day one was natural. I just told them everything we do, chores, schoolwork, family games, cooking dinner, we always do our best….

Eventually, as they get older, “Best Work” turns into time management and decision making. My children learned to say: “Mom, I didn’t color my picture for History because I really wanted to put extra effort into Science today. I couldn’t do both. But my Science is my best work and I’m really proud of it. I didn’t think my time was best spent just coloring.” – My response was always one laced with positivity, even if I needed to give correction.

For example: “Your Science is in fact Best work, I can tell you are enjoying the study of weather. I also notice you have not submitted a best work sample for History in 3 days. How can I help change that?” (No criticism, just fact based statement, with an offer of help)

Working with a Charter school as your “homeschool” is another legal option of homeschooling. You are however technically enrolled in a public school and that is why they ask for work samples, grades, etc. The funds you receive for curriculum and classes come from the funding Charter schools receive from the state for enrollment. Many who choose this route simply don’t show their learners the report cards that are issued if  that’s not in alignment with their educational style. That’s the beauty of Homeschooling, we get to choose.

If you are under a Private School Satellite Program(PSP), Like the Happy Hive, you will follow their requirements, much like a Charter school. Happy Hive offers Report Cards as an additional service to their program to those families that want them, but they are not required.

You can implement the “best work” strategy at any time. Just at your next learner/teacher meeting, explain you want to try something new, For each item of work turned in you will ask if it is “Best Work” and what makes it Best Work. As the teacher, you only accept BEST WORK…

Or, Summer is a good time with less pressure to make this kind of adjustment. As we head into summer, if you need any support for your schooling, feel free to reach out. The Happy Hive has many options for families.

May your educational Journey Be Blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

My Best Organization Advice for Busy Families

Tried and true. It has worked for the 16 years I have used it. You see, I had 3 kids in 4 years. I was a baby maker. And if you know me, you’re laughing because I didn’t want kids. I was happy with “my kids” that said meow, and the kids in my classroom every day – so the kind I actually had to change diapers for were not on my to do list.

I needed to be organized. After my 3rd child was born I was blessed to be able to stay home. That did NOT make life easier. I was as busy as ever. Something had to give. I had a newborn, a 1 year old and a 2 year old. I made the best decision of my life, and we still use this method of organization today.

My children are color coded. My oldest is RED, my middle is BLUE and my youngest is GREEN. Sometimes Red gets Pink – and she doesn’t mind. It’s understood that is her stuff. Dishes, towels, school supplies, bed sheets – you name it if it comes in these three colors – I buy it!

These dishes saved my life. It is so easy to organize when the kids are color coded!

Lauren – you towel is in the bathroom, please put it where it belongs. Ok mamma! What can she say? She can’t claim it isn’t hers! It was red! The consequence for using items that are NOT your color are punishable by death. So that never happened. Okay, well, not quite death, but I have to admit – it was so NORMAL – they never tried! I suppose if this system gets put into place with children who need to adapt to it, you would 100% need a meaningful consequence for using items that don’t belong to you.

I remember being upset I couldn’t find Green Pajamas this particular year. But notice the head wear! Spot on!
Even Santa color codes. He doesn’t even use gift tags. They just know.
This was a much Merrier Christmas – all Pajamas fell into proper color categories. Imagine the shear bliss had I found Green Snowflake Pajamas. I would have swooned!
The Easter Baskets are color coded, and if you look – they each have Peeps (the purple were close enough I guess ) – but you get the idea…the idea I’m a bit crazy!

I know homeschool families often have many children, but this would still work.

The most important things to color code are the towels and the dishes. I’m the only crazy who extends it onto pajamas and gift wrap!

The Core of the system is HOUSEHOLD items, dishes, towels – things that get left around. You want those items to be easily identified so they can get back to their rightful owner and the rightful owner can take responsibility for their actions.

This set comes with 9 different colors:

Now that we have outgrown the plastic dishes, I still use the system. I simply leave them notes on the counter with chores using paper in their color. In a pinch I write on white paper using markers in Red, Blue and Green. Same effect.

Feel free to share your tips for organizing with us! We hope your Educational Journey is blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

Looking to the Future

When schools closed the second week in March, I knew it was my opportunity to continue to work on Happy Hive Homeschooling. There was never enough time to get more than 1 item into my shop a week. My honest to goodness goal is to have a COMPLETE curriculum – something for EVERY DAY! I know that slow and steady win the race, I am comfortable with that…but 365 days finishing only 1 a week — that’s a mighty long race! I could hardly WAIT for summer to come, as I knew I’d have a solid 10 weeks to get a nice jump start. I have been given an extra 10 weeks due to the stay at home order! (I sincerely hope school re-opens in September. I will be working for an alternative education school and basically homeschooling the students that attend – it is right up my alley!)

I want to THANK each and every one of my blog followers, Instagram followers, Facebook Friends, and secret admirers out there cheering me on. When I met my sales goal for April (On April 26th, with plenty of time to spare!) it felt like a lottery win!

I enjoy making videos, helping families get started on their homeschool journey, coaching families while we homeschool together, creating curriculum – ALL of it! If you know someone – friend, family, homeschooler, teacher…that you think would like HomeschoolHoliday – I would love for you to share. I certainly have set a new goal for May and beyond!

11 Interesting Facts about Me

I have a blog follower who writes beautifully. Her words are calm and bring me peace. She follows this blog as well as Gratitude-LittleThings-Contentment, my personal blog, AND my scrapbooking blog Happy Hive Scrapbooking, the one I struggle to keep up with!  Every *Like* encourages me to keep going… especially here at

You see I had no idea who Neha Nandwana of My World is. She found me somehow, and “her world” has impacted mine in a big way. I don’t think Neha homeschools at all, but I think she is an amazing Human!

Recently Neha was nominated for a blogging award :The Vincent Ehindero Award. It is an award bloggers nominate each other for to spread positivity.

Neha certainly DESERVES this award in my book! She has brought positivity into my world on a weekly basis both through her writing, and by her participation on

As part of receiving the award Neha had to answer a series of questions and nominate 10-30 other bloggers. Her Nomination was to all her readers to share 11 interesting facts about ourselves. I decided to accept Neha’s challenge in hopes to continue to spread positivity, and as a way to thank her for being a supporter of my blog. So here you go Neha, Here are 11 interesting facts about me:

You can watch the video version, or keep reading below.

  1. I live in my childhood home.
  2. I talk to the animals in my yard as if I were Snow White, and I like to give them little names. Robin the bird, Chatterer the squirrel and Oscar the opossum are the current friends I have. (Man, now I sound completely insane.)
  3. I consume coffee like it is water. Being home now with the stay at home orders, I am drinking a 12 cup pot by myself every day. My husband has his own coffee pot to use. We like different blends.
  4. I enjoy scrapbooking in my spare time and I attend 2- four day scrapbook weekends every year.
  5. I prefer not to drive, and will ask my husband to take me places so I don’t have to.
  6. I collect bees, but only if they are cute, not if they look like a real bee.
  7. I have taught at every grade level K-8 except first and second grades (unless you count my own children when they were homeschooled in those grades).
  8. My favorite book is MANDY by Julie Edwards
  9. I was named after the character Christy in the book by the same name, by Catherine Marshall. Serendipitously she was a teacher and so was I.
  10. My family moved to California from Jew Jersey when I was six. I still consider New Jersey my home.
  11. When I did my DNA testing I found out I was 100% European so I like to pretend I’m somehow royal. (There’s the insanity again!)

I began Happy Hive Homeschool Consulting, and it’s subsidiary, Homeschool Holiday to help people. I sincerely hope the information I post inspires you to learn something new each day. Our educational journey is never over, so whether you are a student, parent or teacher, or just seeking to learn more yourself – I thank you for stopping by. If you are so inclined to share my blog with others, I would love to do the same for you. Kindness begets kindness. Together we can grow and bring kindness to others.

If you are so inclined to support my blog by making a purchase through Amazon, I am an Amazon Affiliate and as such the links I post are affiliate links. You can purchase anything you’d like simply by first visiting Amazon HERE, and then shopping for your own wants and needs:-)

For my full DISCLOSURE go HERE.

May YOUR educational journey be blessed, at whatever phase you are in. Please take some time today to check out my blogging friend Neha and her blog: MY WORLD. I hope she inspires you as much as she has inspired me!

Christy – AKA Mrs. Crabtree

History in the Making….

Each Summer As part of our school work I had the Bugs keep a daily journal. They recounted the activities from the day before. These make EXCELLENT memory books.

It not only records their writing and artistic style, it records the games, books and television programs each child was into at the time.

This activity had me thinking about what mom’s across the world could do that was quick and easy now that they are working with their kids at home.

You can use an extra composition or spiral notebook if you have one on hand. Let a Teen start their own blog…Just get those thoughts on paper.

An assignment like this is NOT the time to worry about Spelling, Mechanics, Punctuation, etc… If your child ASKS for help – go ahead. Otherwise, in a Journal, whatever gets written is PERFECT.

Those of you whose school didn’t get closes (AKA homeschoolers from the start) feel free to share this idea with our new school at home friends.

May your journey continue to be Blessed!

  • Mrs. Crabtree