Getting it All Done

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A Small reunion of former 4th Grade students.

These wonderful well adapted adults survived my early un credentialed years  filled with nick names and “no talking” days! 

I tell everyone who will listen what an awesome teacher I am. Seriously – I am over the top proud to mold little minds. I deeply believe I am following God’s Will in my life and I’m letting my light shine. I will homeschool anyone’s child -and have over the years. I solicit for little humans to come to my house so I can be their teacher in my awesome way. I’m not going to lie…it’s borderline boastful…. But in the same breath I will also admit my faults. (Those don’t take long ha ha!)

  Here I am with not one, but two 4th grade students that won the school spelling bee – I was the proudest teacher on campus, but freely admitted that I had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with their success! All I did was show up to the spelling bee.  

When I was deep in the throws of homeschooling we followed a bit of a routine. I thrive on structure and believe kids do too. It wasn’t strict, like math at exactly 8 am every day and I didn’t have a bell system ringing in my house, but we did have an order and routine. I still didn’t have enough time to get everything done. Social media was just in it’s beginning years and I resisted comparing myself to others, my kids WERE learning…but still I wondered if it would be enough. So I would try again tomorrow to get everything done…. 

It’s summer – but here I have crammed as many kids into my living room as possible. We are having a week long camp: “Camp Crabtree” so I can  *homeschool* my nieces, nephews  and friends’ kids.

In my classroom, I was required to follow the bell system and have a much more structured approach. For sure I would get it all done – right? (Can you hear the laughter?) 

When I needed more time for an epic science project – I scheduled it in. I honestly can’t tell you how many times one of the “special” teachers had to call my classroom because I was in the middle of teaching and forgot to send my  fourth graders to their class. I’d be embarrassed if that sort of thing embarrassed me.  I was BLESSED to have specialists to teach such classes as Art, Music, PE and computers to name a few – but I was always deep into whatever we were doing and lost track of time. 

After 15 years of classroom teaching and  handwritten as well as fancy online lesson planning – I never, even once got it all done. That’s right folks – Mrs. Awesome teacher never got it all done. Perhaps you know a secret I don’t or I’m not as Awesome as I think I am. 

Wonder Teacher – Aka Mrs. Awesome herself!

You can judge me or perhaps it makes YOU feel better about what’s going on in your home or classroom. Never finished the Math or Social Studies textbook. Never covered every 4th grade standard (or whatever grade I was teaching). I bet there was a day here and there that I accomplished the *day* as it was laid out – but I’m not sure I can prove that! I often wondered if it was even possible in 180 days to cover it “ALL”.  Every year I tried – believe me it was always going to be “this year”…but again, and again it never happened. 

Despite this fact, I still feel that I am indeed an AWESOME teacher and an even better Homeschool Mom and mentor. 

Twin Day with a former student. She was no longer in my class, but wanted to be MY twin. How cool is that!

Why? Maybe because we didn’t get it all done, but I did give my learners my LOVE, my TIME and my PASSION for the topics we were learning. 

My children (The Bugs) are in college and a High School Senior. I have students that I helped homeschool in similar situations, finishing their schooling, graduated – all right where they should be – regardless of what we “finished” in a day, week, or year.

 
Teacher of the Bride!  

Through social media I am in contact with many students that were educated in my classroom in one way or another.. Those that came early in my career when things were unpolished and very much by instinct and those that came a little later (through their parents) that had the pleasure of a teacher with more experience and were “homeschooled” in a classroom.  They all survived not finishing.

They share memories of EXPERIENCES, both when I was unpolished and when I was “experienced” and my LOVE, TIME and PASSION was enough for all of them! 

Each day as you begin, whether it’s in your home as a homeschool mom or in a classroom teacher, rather than focus on what you “need to get done” I encourage you to instead focus on sharing your LOVE, TIME and PASSION for learning and let the rest fall into place. 

Nothing needs to GET DONE ! 

May your educational Journey Be Blessed!

Mrs. Crabtree

The (WORST) BEST Halloween Ever!

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Have you read the series of books by Barbara Robinson? The series follows the Herdman family and their antics, through three novels: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Best School Year Ever, and The Best Halloween Ever. 

In the BEST Halloween Ever, the mayor of the town cancels Halloween because he is afraid of the pranks the Herdmans will pull off this year. 

Well, in 1977, My mom cancelled Halloween for my younger brother and I. Not because of our antics, but because we had just moved to GIGANTIC California from Teeny Tiny New Jersey and she was too frightened to let us go Trick Or Treating in the apartment complex we lived in. We were waiting for construction to be finished on our neighborhood home with the proverbial white picket fence.  I was 6, my brother was 3. He didn’t really know anything about Halloween, but I did. My older brother was 7 years my senior, so he had “outgrown” Halloween being 13 and all. My mom hatched a plan so we could still Trick – Or Treat. She bought bags of different candy, and she went behind one bedroom door, and my older brother went behind the other. Little Brother and I dressed in our costumes and giggled and went back and forth between those two doors knocking and saying “Trick or Treat” until the candy ran out! We had the BEST TIME!  I cherished and held this Halloween in my heart for years! My Mom actually ALWAYS made Halloween special. During my childhood, we could have children come inside on Halloween night to play my Mom’s games. Everyone in the neighborhood looked forward to seeing what she would be dressed as each year and loved reaching into her containers for a strip of paper that would reveal their prize!  

When my 3 Bugs came along, I began hosting Family Halloween parties the weekend before or after Halloween. We incorporated the “Indoor” Trick or Treating in memory of my Mom! 

You may be in a situation, for whatever the reason, that Trick or Treating from door to door isn’t an option. Even weather is a major factor in some areas year to year.  There have been “Whisperings” for months about Halloween 2020 and what THAT means…I’m sure where you live will have their own recommendations. 

Don’t cancel Halloween... with some quick thinking, costumes, candy and any door – Halloween is one event that The Show Can Go On!!!!

 And who knows, perhaps it will be the (WORST) BEST Halloween Ever! I certainly Hope it is! 

(My Brother and I on that now FAMOUS Halloween 1976)

– Mrs. Crabtree

Happy Hive Homeschooling – Providing experiences for homeschoolers, classroom teachers and families looking for a reason to celebrate.

Letting Go of Fear

This article first appeared in the Homeschool Holiday August Newsletter. If you are not receiving the Newsletter, you are not a member of our Curriculum Club! It’s easy to sign up and it’s FREE.

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Not Back to School Season


In the Homeschool Community we like to celebrate what we affectionately call – NOT back to school day because well, we don’t send our kids to school. This year, as we begin the 2020-2021 school year we are joined by many, many families who may be homeschooling, distance learning, or educating their children on the fly in between their own work-from-home situations!  All forms of Education Matter!

Happy “not” Back to school Season! 

Ideas for making the first day special



Last Month I shared with you a few ideas with making the First Day of school Special :

Mix up your First day of school picture by taking it in your Pajamas or with the computer in view instead of the backpack. 

If you are in an area requiring mask use, decorate a disposable mask with their grade or graduation year and use it as a prop.

Attitude is everything. Pictures with and without the mask will be treasured by your grandchildren many, many moons from now! 

Sharing my wisdom

I keep thinking how “lucky” I am that my children are older and I am not facing some of the decisions those of you with younger learners are facing.

It doesn’t mean I can’t relate. Remember, I’m the mom who freely admits she homeschooled because she was too afraid to send her child to school in a “normal” time.  I have the gift of wisdom so many wise teachers, homeschoolers and mentors shared with me then that I hope I can share with you now: 

 Everything will be okay, let go of the fear. 

Everything looks different


School doesn’t look ANYTHING like it did for most of us just one short year ago. Even seasoned homeschoolers have adjustments to make by wearing masks, limiting outings and sharing bandwidth with the neighborhood!

What ARE the long term impacts we are going to see to learning as a result of this monumental shift to “Distance Learning… Hybrid Programs” and even modified face to face instruction? 

I don’t have a Crystal Ball



I can’t promise there won’t be learning gaps, that your child won’t get behind (or speed ahead)… I don’t have a crystal ball. I only have in the trenches, real life example after example of times where children did get behind, for one reason or another (illness or injury of the child, parent or family member… relocation …lack of effort….the arrival of a sibling… a death in the family…different learning abilities).

In each of these times, the child, no matter how far behind, was able to meet or exceed their learning goals when their ability was not impaired by nature. Even a child with special limits set by nature was able to make advances- once the opportunities were presented, and the blocks were removed! 

When a plant has sun, water and proper soil, it grows. Add some minerals to the soil and growth increases!
Children are no different than plants! 

Children ALWAYS LEARN!



Think about war-torn Europe during World War II. Children were evacuated from the city and placed with host families. The emotional impact of the Pied Piper operation was far more long lasting than the educational impact.

Distance learning has given us MORE time with our children – not less. EVERYTHING is learning. The “independent learning” time assigned by the teacher is natural. If your learner is finished with their work, have them read, draw, play with toys, create art projects, etc… come up with a FAMILY learning goal they can research and work on to stay occupied during “school” time. Let them play 🙂 and be kids! Give things time to settle and adjust – yourself included, and rest assured… when things do settle – your kids will catch up.

I learned my multiplication tables at 40 ! When we let go of the fear, the sky is the limit!

– Mrs. Crabtree

It’s my First Pandemic, How About you?

I know it’s really hard to get away from the subject, so perhaps the LAST place you want to read about the pandemic is in my joy-filled education newsletter. It may be worth it – I have my quirky way about things  if you will stick with me!

Back to school time is an EXCITING TIME – and it should be! No matter what! 

The topic of every news broadcast, Facebook post, Instagram feed and Twitter birdie tweet seems to be revolving around the old Shakespearean issue – to send them back or not send them back! These are real issues, but they are grown up issues. Kids want to get back to school, home school, and see their friends just as much as we want to get back to work, go to Disneyland, and see our friends. The thing with kids is they don’t process decisions like adults do. Darn, even adults are having a tough time with this one… normally we have a stockpile of experience to lean on.  

Flash back to March… I am recalling a story told by a wise friend who spent hours on the phone in the beginning of the pandemic. When she was ending the call she thanked the customer service representative many times, was kind (as she always is) and very gracious for the help she received. The customer service representative almost choked on her own reply, not quite knowing how to reply in kind as well… she said something of the nature to my friend: You are being so nice, I haven’t really been much help. Everyone is being so rude and angry. My friend replied – well- this was her FIRST pandemic, so how many pandemics had she, the customer service representative experienced? After a little laugh – The customer service representative conceded – it was indeed her FIRST pandemic as well! 

That’s just it folks! Unless by some alien DNA you were alive during the “Spanish Flu” outbreak… this is OUR FIRST PANDEMIC! And navigating the decisions that keep coming at us day by day are a doozie. 

Not everything has be be the “Right:, or “Wrong”  way of doing it… sometimes we just have to figure it out – and that can be really H -A-R-D!

Including Back to School. 
Just remember as you discuss your plans to head back in whatever form, make the ABSOLUTE best of it. The Back to school Fairy should ABSOLUTELY pay your home a visit. (Read a bit more about her on the blog. She’s the tooth fairy for school supplies!) A new outfit, or new to you outfit, or something from the dress up bin! Whatever it takes… Help you learner see the plan as THE BEST THING EVER. 

If you will be homeschooling for the first time – or continuing the journey, I hope you read 
8 Things to Help When You’re Overwhelmed



If you are looking for a few ideas for making that first day special here are a few: 

Take your First Day School Picture, now it is especially important. Mix it up. Take the picture in Pajamas, before getting dressed, or include the computer in the photo, rather than the backpack! 

Drive around the block and come back home. (Or drive through the golden arches for breakfast – something you wouldn’t do ordinarily!) 

Incorporate a  fun activity like our Oreo Cookie Bundle:  
Hold an Oreo taste test, then use the leftovers to see who can make the highest stack!

Purchase the bundle in my Amped Up Learning store.

 

Whether you go back to school in person, are home distance learning, giving homeschooling a try or continuing a homeschool journey form years past, I’d love to hear what you do to make back to school special. Feel free to send me an email! 

– Mrs. Crabtree

Summer School: A flexible schedule

Last month  I shared with you that we don’t *Stop* schooling over the summer. In fact, I subscribe to the philosophy of everything is learning, and every day is a school day (yes even weekends and Holidays!) If you have been a subscriber and a blog reader for awhile, you also know my motto: There is no wrong way to homeschool! There is only your way, and that’s the right way! So as we ease further into summer why not try a flexible summer schedule where each day has a bit of a theme? I’m going to share my schedule with you – but there are literally tons of these things floating around the internet. Again – do what works for YOUR family, the area you live, your comfort level, supplies, etc. This type of plan works great for families who are not currently homeschooling and just need a little something to keep their minds busy. 

Movie Monday
watch, share, create


Each Monday watch a movie, create a “book report” type activity to go along with it and discuss as a family the aspects of the movie. You can make: Movie posters, dioramas. character maps, write new endings, puppets, Lego builds, etc. Discussions can include character development, plot development, setting changes (what if the movie took place in space?) and if the movie happens to also be a book, that opens up a whole realm of compare and contrast! 

The Curriculum Club Member Area*   has a FREE movie Discussion Guide to get you started.


Not a Member yet? What are you waiting for? It’s Fast, and it’s FREE.

Field Trip Tuesday
get out or make it virtual


Field Trips don’t have to be expensive and elaborate. A picnic in the backyard works! There are many Virtual Field trips as well to museums, amusement parks and zoos all over the world. Home School Holiday has a World Traveler Virtual Field Trip set in which you can “visit” 14 different countries. Your learners make a passport and everything. The regular price is $2.50, however with the EXCLUSIVE CURRICULUM CLUB COUPON CODE (Sorry readers this code expired… but more will be included in FUTURE Newsletters!) you can get it now through July 4th for 50% off! Take the activity for a “test drive” using the try before you buy version – FRANCE that is available in the The Curriculum Club Member Area*

Visit my Amped Up Learning Store to purchase



Word Study Wednesday
vocabulary, reading, book club



There are so many options for increasing your word power! Use Wednesdays to read together as a family. You can use a different book each week, or a longer book that builds anticipation. Invite a few other families to join and create a book club in which you can share ideas. You can meet using online tools such as Google Meet or Zoom . You can hold a book club in person if you’d like. Your learners can also simply engage in their own personal reading time. If you want to add more of a vocabulary twist to the day, why not use a word of the day/week activity such as the one available from Homeschool Holiday. This Vocabulary of the Day/Week has 200 words suitable for grades 3 – 7, or you can easily use the worksheets with your own words. Especially after you snap up this fantastic resource for 50% off using our EXCLUSIVE CURRICULUM CLUB COUPON CODE  (Sorry readers this code expired… but more will be included in FUTURE Newsletters!)

Visit my Amped Up Learning store to purchase


Think Thursday
science and math, puzzles and games

We always defaulted to puzzles and games on Think Thursday! The kids can use apps to keep up with their math facts or even a deck of cards. My all time favorite for the middle grades is to play multiplication war. It’s like the old fashioned game of war – but you want to be the first to multiply the two cards. A tie in calling out the answer results in the “war”. Spending a few hours together on a puzzle or playing a board game is summer fun that simply can’t be beat! You can also try an out of the box idea and go on a Scavenger Hunt! 

There is a fantastic Free version of the Indoor Scavenger Hunt in our Curriculum Club Member Area*  or you can snag the Mega Pack  With 20 different hunts! Our regular price is $3.00 (That’s 15 cents a hunt!) but it is 50% off now through July 4th using our EXCLUSIVE CURRICULUM CLUB COUPON CODE!  (Sorry readers this code expired… but more will be included in FUTURE Newsletters!)

Visit my Amped Up Learning store to Purchase

Fan Art Friday
recreate the greats



Whatever your level of “creative” – find a famous painting, sculpture, or even craft item and use whatever you have on hand to make your own version of it. Be inspired by the art! Playdough (find an easy homemade recipe for extra fun) is a great way to make sculptures. What about a Lego bust of a famous face? Summer construction paper mosaics suddenly become masterpieces when hung on the fridge – guaranteed! 


If you want to keep the “Schooling” going into the weekend, we call it: 

So Together Saturday and Sunday
special meals, one on one with each child, chores and gardening


Use the weekend to cook together, make sure you spend one on one time with each of your children (even if it’s while you fold laundry!) and get outside to do some yard work and gardening. Summer is a perfect time for flowers or vegetables! If you have a small space, try container gardening. Chores are a wonderful way to maintain responsibility and build character. 


Whether you do *something everyday* or just one thing each week, I hope these ideas help you keep the minds learning this month!  I’d love to hear how you spend your summer months. Feel free to leave a comment! And please – if you haven’t done so already – Join the Curriculum Club. You get one – two newsletters a month.. access to our EXCLUSIVE FREE curriculum in the MEMBERS ONLY AREA and up to date announcements about coupons, giveaways, and SALES! We’d love to have you as an exclusive member of the hive! Sign up HERE

Until next time, Be Blessed!

– Mrs. Crabtree

Just Keep Swimming

May 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!


Just Keep Swimming – By Mrs. Crabtree

This is the time of  year I hear the song “School’s Out For Summer” playing in my head! But in our house it said: School’s (Not) out for Summer! We just keep going, or like Dory says:  we just keep swimming! 

Many homeschool families do not take a “break” for summer. Instead they adopt more of a year long (I prefer to call it life long) schooling philosophy.

 If this isn’t something you are already doing, I have some practical tips on what works for us and why we prefer not to take summer’s off! 

If you’re not a homeschool family – it’s the perfect occasion to test it out, or you can be “Summer-Schoolers” only. Just “Homeschool” for the summer months so your children continue to thrive educationally. 

ROUTINE 

We stay in our routine. We don’t get up at the crack of dawn anyway. There isn’t really a reason to “sleep in” and get the family all out of alignment. Then we’d just have to get BACK into the routine again and you know how hard that is. I highly recommend this to all families. Try to say as close as possible to your bedtime and wake time on a REGULAR basis. Think about how hard it is when daylight savings time comes around! Add in adjusting to “Back to School” time and that’s three times a year you need at least a week to realign your healthy sleep cycle. 

(Remember when they took naps? Can I go back to THIS sleep cycle???) 


ACADEMICS

We do most of our core ACADEMICS in the summer. Museums and theme parks are crowded because everyone is off and visiting. We save our field trips for the “traditional: months when things tend to be less crowded, or we can go early before schools arrive. For those of you “summer-schooling” as I suggested this can be a time to catch up on skills or to get ahead! EVERYTHING is learning. 

I always tell my children that we have school every day, 365 days a year. There are no days off because everything IS learning. Whenever we take a vacation (even if it IS over the summer)  – that’s just what we did for school. This works wonders. I actually told my children they could have Leap Year day off. I’ll never forget the year they got up at 1am to play video games on Leap Day. Everyone should celebrate Leap Day with absolute abandon every 4 years. Why fill an extra day with work?
 

(Lauren helps her cousin make giant bubbles at our “summer camp”)


FAMILY TIME

Summers were special because I wasn’t working, so we got to spend more time as a family. If I stopped schooling, my kids would have scattered to the wind. This might not apply to your situation, but many jobs have reduced summer hours so perhaps the non homeschooling parent is home more! Remember #3, everything is learning so Games, Movies, Hikes…it all counts! 

Don’t forget to take advantage of the great programs your community offers. Many have free reading programs with rewards. Even movie theaters have free or $1.00 movies! If you don’t want to go to the Movies or Library this summer due to local stay at home orders or just to play it safe..organize a program among your child’s friends (or classmates). They can all read the same book and meet online to discuss it, or do the same with a movie. Host a small gathering in your home or park, whatever you are comfortable with. This might be THE perfect summer for an old fashioned lemonade stand! When life gives you lemons after all….  I know whatever you decide your learning will be plentiful and your journey will be blessed!

(Douglas making a face, looks like sour grapes to me!) 



 I’d love to hear how you spend your summer months. Feel free to send me an email! 

– Mrs. Crabtree

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