How to Help Your Homeschooler Manage Time

How to Help Your Homeschooler Manage TimeHomeschool parents tend to be very independent people. We like to take matters into our own hands, and we like to think outside of the box.

Homeschooling involves lots of preparation and planning. Most of this, if not all, is tackled by the parent. We plan the curriculum, choose the resources, and outline the year. But there comes a time when we need to begin encouraging our children to take some responsibility of managing their own schedule and time.

This is not merely to get something off of mom’s plate. It’s to help nurture skills in your child that they need to develop. And for mom, this may even put more on her plate because at the beginning you will need to oversee what they are doing.

It takes time for them to become stronger in these skills, so at first mom may need to help quite a bit. Here is how to nudge your children towards more independence.

Determine if they are ready

Kids develop differently. Some kids are naturally independent; others need some encouragement. There are some children who need lots of hand-holding along the way. Age is also a huge factor. You can’t expect your first grader to manage her schedule like a ninth grader would.

Share your experience

When I started working with my eldest and helping her to develop a plan, I shared with her how I planned out my schedule and our homeschool schedule. But I also encouraged her to do what works for her.

Start small

Begin by letting them plan out their morning schedules even if it has nothing to with school. Sit down with them (make it a fun project) and ask them if they know what their morning routine is? My 6 year old knows that when she wakes, up she brushes her teeth, gets dressed, and makes her bed. She then combs her hair. Most mornings I have to repeat these steps to her, even though we do them every day.

We are working on helping her become more confident in herself and encouraging her to take responsibility for these things. Is it a huge thing? No. But to her it will help her develop confidence to manage her own day.

Encourage them, even if they mess up

It’s important to never discourage them if they stumble. This will only make them insecure and doubt their capabilities. If they plan something out and it just doesn’t work, praise them for trying! Then help them work out a new plan.

I remember the first time my eldest asked if she could plan how to tackle her school work that week. I let her know what I expected her to complete, but left the planning up to her. She tried to pile it all up in just a few days, only to realize that time was not on her side.

Nevertheless I applauded her for her creative approach and helped her create a new plan. It stretched out longer than she had hoped (four days versus three) but she wasn’t as stressed and was complete her assignments. She didn’t feel defeated; instead she realized that when plan A doesn’t work – there is always a plan B.

Do you encourage your children to manage their time and homeschool schedules? What are some tips you have to offer?

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Turning Your Road Trip Notebook Into A Keepsake

Turning Your Road Trip Notebook Into A Keepsake

You could walk in the door from vacation, flop the suitcases on the floor and toss your travel notebooks on a shelf somewhere and not pay them much more attention. But why stop there?

Whether you set up a Road Trip Notebook before you left or not, you can still enjoy turning your road trip into a fun, educational, and memorable keepsake.

Remember: You can do as much or as little as you want. This is not a drill; this should be fun!

Road Trip Keepsake Notebooks

Our Road Trip Keepsake Notebooks

Turn Your Road Trip Notebook Into A Keepsake

Where to begin?

My brain tends to process things A to B to C, so it makes sense to me to work one vacation day at a time. After I organized all of our vacation photos into folders by state and location (oh yes I did,) we sat down to work on Day 1.

(Actually, the first thing we did was finishing our notebook cover pages...)

(Actually, the first thing we did was finishing our notebook cover pages…)

Choose & Use Your Photos

I decided to give my kids complete creative license over their notebooks. We have a great Canon photo printer and plenty of 4×6 photos sheets (because they come with the ink,) so I told the kids to choose whatever they wanted and we would print them.

Step 1: Let your kids choose and print their photos. Let them arrange the photos on their choice of colored card stock, with their choice of stickers, Washi tape, and journaling cards. Photo mounting squares seem to be the best way to apply the photos to the pages, and markers or alphabet stickers can be used to label the events. Include the names of the parks, cities, and states on your photo pages.

We did this as our first step because seeing the pictures helped the kids recall the events of the day and jogged their memory. I helped my 9 year old son, but the older two did theirs independently.

Keepsake 2

Keepsake 3

Using Post Cards

I decided from the beginning of our journey that I was going to collect beautiful postcards everywhere that we went: The Painted Desert, The Grand Canyon, Route 66, Multnomah Falls, and the Great Salt Lake.

Step 2: Add your post cards. The postcards can be kept in pockets in the binder, applied to notebooking pages, or scrapbooked onto cardstock. Many of the postcards have information about the site on the back which can be used for copywork or creatively concealed under a flap or recorded into a lapbook-type-foldable.

However your  kids choose to use them, postcards are probably the cheapest momento you can take home with you. The only things cheaper are any free brochures and maps you can collect.

Keepsake 1

Saving Maps, Brochures, & Other Momentos

At every stop we made, we collected three sets of the free brochures and maps available. We always asked if we could take three, and most places were obliging.

While in the moment of touring a new destination, I find it very difficult take in all the information in the brochure. At home, however, I can read it slowly and take it all in. I collected all of these not only for the notebooks, but also with the intention of reading over them together once we returned home.

Step 3: Make the most of those take home items. Read over the brochures together and file them into the pocketed divider for the day. Mark the places you visited on your state map, or make notes on the free maps you brought home and file them away, too.  Other momentos (such as the pieces of sand dollar we brought home with us) can be glued to notebooking pages or slipped inside an envelope or plastic zip bag and stapled to cardstock.

Keep an eye open for opportunities to discuss geography related topics as you go — culture, topography, geographic location, etc. 

Keepsake 5

Keepsake 6

Reminisce and Review

While creating photo pages, we reminisced together about where we had gone and what we had done. We continued re-telling and narrating as we worked on the different elements of our notebooks. As we worked, I quizzed the kids on the names of the towns we stopped in, what kinds of things we saw in that state/area as we passed through (west Texas has lots of cotton fields), and what the landscape looked like.

Step 4: Reminisce, review, and quiz your kids as you work through each step of each day of your notebook. Make it fun! For many kids, narrating helps cement information and makes it easier to recall. Re-telling all the stories may not seem like geography, but in a way it is. Your kids are filing all the information into their brain for the different regions they have traveled, filling in and filling out their picture of the world around them.

Side note: I, too, once thought geography was only about names and places on maps. We started really understanding what geography is after we started reading North Star Geography. Now we understand that culture, religion, landscape, climate, and even major crop industries are all a part of the study of geography.

Buddy's Photo Pages

Creating Notebooking Pages

The last thing I asked the kids to do was to create a notebooking page in which they summarized and retold the events of the vacation day. I let them choose what to write, I only asked that they share their favorite thing about that day. I also let them choose whether they included an illustration or a photo, or not.

Step 5: Narrate the events of the day through notebooking pages. For younger children, ask them to narrate aloud while you write. End with this step while things are still fresh from review. Creating a notebooking page takes the memories you have re-told and gets them down on paper to be included in your Road Trip Keepsake Notebook.

Keepsake 7

Put It All Together

Continue working on your notebooks one vacation day at a time. As you complete a day, let your kids organize things into their Road Trip Keepsake Notebooks however they like.

At this time, you may choose to ask them to complete any state related worksheets you had printed before hand for busy work. If you didn’t do that before your trip, you might take some time after you complete each vacation day to study the state(s) you traveled through and make a little mini unit study out of it. File those pages into the notebooks as well.

Depending on how many days you traveled and how much you saw, it may take several days (or a couple of weeks) to put your Road Trip Keepsake Notebooks together. Once you are finished, however, you really will have a neat keepsake from your vacation that your kids can take pride in.

Do you know what the best part is? The best keepsakes are the memories you make together.

2015 Summer Road Trip

Because we love a summer road trip, The Ultimate Timeline and Geography Guide is on sale July 16-31, 2015 for 15% off.

July 16-31, 2015; 15% off The Ultimate Timeline and Geography Guide

Get More Road Trip Goodness by Following Our Special Pinterest Board

Follow Bright Ideas Press’s board Road Trip Learning for Homeschool Families on Pinterest.

Do you have our latest 2015 catalog? Download a PDF copy now.
To get notice of sales and read encouraging articles, sign up for our newsletter.

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Don’t Get Caught Up in the Homeschool Feeding Frenzy

Don’t Get Caught Up in the Feeding Frenzy

So many options, so many activities, so many creative ideas are available in the world of education.

It used to be, homeschooled students had to walk a mile or two just to borrow a book. A couple hundred years later, ideas are as close as a click on a computer or a short drive to the library, not to mention the b-word: bookstore.

Edu-Feeding Frenzy

Given the homeschoolers’ appetite for knowledge, it’s an edu-feeding frenzy out there. And what a gift to our generation that is! There are more edu-fish in the knowledge-sea than we could possibly ever consume. But for your sanity – and your child’s – try not to get caught up in the Gotta Do It All Because We Homeschool Frenzy.

Where’s All the Pressure Coming From?

It’s one thing to eat fish to our heart’s content. It’s another to be driven to eat more than we are hungry for because of pressure from the outside. From my experience, the pressure comes from at least four places:

  • the non-homeschooling world
  • the homeschooling world
  • the secular world
  • the Christian world

Each world offers an abundance of options within their systems. The massive measure of imagination in the homeschool world alone creates an ever-increasing kettle of Can Do’s to choose from. If we think we can – or should – do it all, we can feel like we aren’t doing enough. Ever.

An Abundance of Options

Think fish, lots and lots of edu-fish: a variety of sizes, shapes, tastes, baiting-methods, dangers and preparation styles.

  • Edu-style choices.
  • Curriculum choices.
  • Reading choices.
  • Home environment choices.
  • Even meal choices.

After making the one big decision to homeschool, parents then make many individual choices with conscientious thought toward the needs of their own family.

Much prayer and a steady application of boundaries keep the fishing boat afloat.

Use a Net To Cull Choices

I used to fish with my family from the deck of my dad’s boat. We each had at least one fishing line to watch. We caught fish one by one, sometimes two by two when we had more than one hook on the line, or more than one pole was hit simultaneously.

I still remember my dad scurrying between his fishing poles and mine when we hit a biting school! As soon as he’d get one fish off the hook, the next pole needed attention!

But when we bought bait, we used a net to scoop hundreds of squirming anchovies into our bait tank. If we had to fish for our bait, one anchovy at a time, we would have been out to sea much longer, with a much reduced final catch.

Relating that experience to education, if we use an edu-net rather than a fishing line we can catch more curriculum in a shorter amount of time. And with less scurrying.

What Do I Mean by Edu-Net?

Small publishers have the task – and the pleasure – to carefully choose the materials they sell. They tend to have a statement of faith (or non-faith) whether it’s stated explicitly or not; they sift their offerings through their world view, as well as their educational mindset. Once we find a publisher we mesh with, we can use it as a net from which to choose curriculum.

Edu-Soul Mates

Let me give you a quick personal example. Years ago, I read a book Maggie Hogan (aka Mrs. Bright Ideas Press) co-wrote called Gifted Children at Home. I found an edu-soul mate. Her edu-heart beats in rhythm with my own.

And just as importantly, with my children. She seemed to understand something about my growing young ones that I only had a vague glimpse of. Although they had not yet communicated with one another, she pegged them and their learning styles.

Thinking of that book like a fish to feed on, I knew I could trust the curriculum that Bright Ideas Press produced. Although each selection would hold a different place on the edu-meal plate, I knew the flavors would be complimentary.

The Publisher Became the Edu-Net

The publisher became the edu-net that freed me from fishing for every meal. I could scoop up curriculum knowing that my children would devour the knowledge set before them with pleasure rather than pick at it with distaste. Yes, Bright Ideas Press knows how children like their learning seasoned.

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Keeping a Travel Journal on a Road Trip

Keeping a Travel Journal on a Road Trip

Whether you are a regular journal keeper or not, recording travel memories is a fun way to document a fun adventure.

Keeping a Photojournal

Cameras have come a long way since I was young, and the advent of digital photography makes photojournaling easier than ever.

  • Purchase a disposable camera for the kids just for this trip– They’ll have fun seeing the pictures after they are developed and they can make a photo book of the vacation.
  • Bring along a personal device for taking pictures– This list goes beyond cameras these days. A smartphone, tablet, or other small non-phone devices can all take pictures. When kids have their own cameras, you can see the travel experience through their eyes, and they can preserve their own unique memories.
  • Take pictures of places you visit for your photojournal– In the end, the journals can be entirely digital or they can be printed.
  • Make a digital photobook– There are many companies which allow you to upload photos and make a book that will be printed and sent to you. This is a tidy option for lots of people.
  • Use photojournaling apps for recording your trip– Some companies have apps which allow you to collage pictures and make something to show from your smartphone or to print. I use my smartphone to take just about all of my pictures now, so this option is attractive.
  • Start and keep a blog to share your traveling adventures– Uploading digital images and writing a story is free and easy to learn. Eventually, you might decide to make a bound book from your blog entries. There are companies which bind blog entries into books.
  • Blog during the trip– If you have access to technology during the trip, it might be fun to keep the blog while you are there. This option depends on how long you’ll be gone and how much you leave behind (or don’t) on your trip!

Making a Paper Travel Journal

If you are old-school or you like paper art, then you might enjoy keeping a paper travel journal. Outside of a digital format, you can be creative and keep the journal in any form you’d like.

  • Purchase a paper journal book before your trip– Bookstores and large box stores carry bound journals which can get you started. You might choose to personalize the cover.
  • Make your own paper travel journal– We like to make our own books and you can customize the design to match the theme of the trip.
  • Use WonderMaps to make journal pages– Print out maps of your choice in color or black and white. Cut them creatively to make a smaller journal with fun map pages inside.
  • Keep a travel edition nature journal– This one would be specific to the trip and location. You could also bring your regular nature journal and just add to it. The important part here is that there might be observations of the natural world to record. Be ready!
  • Collect ephemera during the adventure– This would include pamphlets, brochures, ticket stubs, luggage tags, etc from all the places while you travel. During the trip or at the end, you can use those items to add to your journal.
  • Create artwork for your journal– We usually bring art supplies for our daughter and she can record memories with her art. An example: Summer Vacation Fun with Chalk Pastels

Supplies for Travel Journals

We like to bring along the things we need for memory keeping, if at all possible. It’s also important to prepare ahead of time. Here’s a list of some essential supplies:

  • Fun paper- printed, plain, and fun
  • Adventures in Bookbinding: Handcrafting Mixed Media Books–  Books on making books give lots of ideas on various binding of homemade books. If you have an interest in crafting special journals, this book gives plenty of instruction.
  • Adhesives- Ones that hold up over time are best. There are many archive quality glues and tapes used for scrapbooking that would be appropriate.
  • Black pen- Or another color for writing the story of your travels. Something used for memory keeping is best to avoid discoloration with age.

Keeping a journal is a fun way to record memories on trips and it’s enjoyable to revisit them when the trip is over. Choose the best way for your kids and family and have fun!

2015 Summer Road Trip

Because we love a summer road trip, The Ultimate Timeline and Geography Guide is on sale July 16-31, 2015 for 15% off.

July 16-31, 2015; 15% off The Ultimate Timeline and Geography Guide

Get More Road Trip Goodness by Following Our Special Pinterest Board

Follow Bright Ideas Press’s board Road Trip Learning for Homeschool Families on Pinterest.

Do you have our latest 2015 catalog? Download a PDF copy now.
To get notice of sales and read encouraging articles, sign up for our newsletter.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please refer to the disclosure policy

Creating a Road Trip Notebook (Before You Go)

Preparing a Road Trip Notebook Before Your Travels

Thinking about taking a road trip this summer? Don’t forget your Road Trip Notebook!

A Road Trip Notebook is a busy book, record keeper, information storehouse and notebooking outlet all in one. As you travel along, your kids can

  • record information about their adventures
  • store flyers and brochures
  • check progress on the map
  • entertain themselves with whatever activities you included

When you get home, you can spend a little more time on them and turn them into Road Trip Keepsakes as well.

Road Trip Notebook Supplies

You only need a few simple supplies to get started:

3-Ring Binders: Depending on the length of your road trip and number of places you’ll be going, a 1-inch binder should be fine. A basic white binder with clear front pocket will let you and your kids customize the binders for the journey.

Pocketed Dividers: Dividers with pockets will let your kids add brochures and maps they collect along the route.

Zipper Pouches: Big, clear, zipper pouches will provide a place to keep and store color pencils and markers or ticket stubs and other mementos. (These expanding clear zipper pockets are durable and spacious.)

Wet Erase Markers: Vis-A-Vis Wet-Erase won’t stain your self-laminated pages like dry erase markers will. (An inexpensive package of baby wipes will let your kids erase in the car.)

After you build your notebooks, don’t forget to create a customized cover page! You can use online editors such as or to create your cover page. A special cover page really finishes it off.

Now that your notebook is all set up, you need to fill it. What are you going to put in it?

Activities By Age & Interest

Road Trip Notebook 1

Most of our road trip printables were found from

We included a variety of pre-printed activities, some reusable and some consumable. If you search for road trip printables or road trip car games, you will find a large amount of resources to download for free on the Internet. Also check our family travel Pinterest board for some great activities we found! Some things you might include:

  • reusable tic tac toe game
  • reusable hangman game
  • reusable dot game
  • road trip bingo
  • laminated blank page for drawing on
  • hidden pictures puzzles
  • road trip scavenger hunt lists

The road trip scavenger hunt was the most fun and most popular thing we did on the road. We quickly used up the two lists I’d printed, and I started making our own in the car on notebook paper. One of the really cool things about making your own list is the ability to tailor your scavenger hunt to the state and region you are traveling through.

Information And Maps

Road Trip Notebook WonderMaps

We printed our maps with WonderMaps, selecting only the features that we wanted.

Adding maps and pages with state information to your notebook gives your kids something to reference when they have questions. If they helped you print them and put them in the binders, it will also give them some information about where they will be going beforehand.

Some things you might want to add: 

  • state information page/coloring page
  • word searches (about states or regions or landmarks)
  • crossword puzzles (again, state/region related)
  • map of your intended route
  • information, coloring pages, or maps for some of the places you plan to visit.
  • Your National Park Collector Stamps or Passport Book if you have them.

You can have your kids help file these pages into the dividers before you go (divided by state or by travel day), or you can put them all in the front and have your kids file them behind the appropriate divider when you travel through each state. For maps of each state, you can print blank maps with the WonderMaps program. We used our download version of WonderMaps to create color maps for every state we traveled through.

Notebooking Pages & Other Paper

Road Trip Notebook State Info

Texas State info found from and blank lined pages from

Last but not least, a notebook wouldn’t be complete without notebooking pages. Early on in the trip I also purchased and added some notebook paper. And my 9 year old son told me that I should have added plain paper for drawings, too (which I think is a great idea.)

Blank notebooking pages of various styles can be found online for free, and I printed some appropriate pages for each of my kids’ ages and writing abilities. Notebook paper would work just fine as well, but the notebooking pages will give your kids a place to add illustrations or glue pictures to their notes and I like that.

If you find that your kids aren’t keen on taking notes while they are traveling (or can’t stomach it while driving in the car), don’t worry. You can always encourage them to write at the end of the day in the hotel or write down what they recall at the end of the trip when you get back home. Just make it available and be encouraging.

Now Take Your Notebook On a Trip

The only thing missing from your notebook now is. . . your adventures! Your Road Trip Notebook is ready to travel. The notebook only give you a place to record the adventures–YOU have to go out and live them! So, go on, hit the open road with your family and make some great memories together this Summer.

2015 Summer Road Trip

In honor of the tradition of the family summer road trip, North Star Geography  is on sale July 1-15, 2015 for 15% off (hardback version only).

July 1-15, 2015; 15% off North Star Geography hardback

Get More Road Trip Goodness by Following Our Special Pinterest Board

Follow Bright Ideas Press’s board Road Trip Learning for Homeschool Families on Pinterest.

Do you have our latest 2015 catalog? Download a PDF copy now.
To get notice of sales and read encouraging articles, sign up for our newsletter.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please refer to the disclosure policy

Collecting Postcards and Coins While Traveling

Collecting Postcards and Coins While Traveling

Any time our family travels to someplace new, we like to bring home small souvenirs to remember our trip. We have discovered that postcards and coins are perfect for travel collections and mementos of a special family road trip.

Types of Coins to Collect

Our oldest son is an avid coin collector. While most of these coins don’t have a lot of value, it’s fun to pay attention to our pocket change. Here are some ideas for coins to look for:

  • Foreign Coins– I think it goes without saying that collecting change while you are not in your home country is worthwhile.
  • 50 State Quarters– This campaign began in 1999 and finished in 2008 and the coins are well circulated. Be on the look out for the states you are visiting.
  • Lincoln Cents– A series of four came out in 2009 and they feature an alternate image on the side opposite Lincoln’s profile.
  • Presidential Dollar Coins– One for each president up through Gerald Ford by 2016. They began minting in 2007. These are fun addition to any coin collection and you could collect them as you pass through a President’s home state.
  • America the Beautiful Quarters– These coins are perfect for travel souvenirs because they feature National Parks of all kinds. Minting began in 2010 and will continue through 2021. Collect them as you visit National Parks.
  • Coin Folders– You can always find a coin folder, but some of these series coins have special folders like a US map for the 50 State Quarters. This is a great way to keep your coin collection as it grows.
  • Pressed Pennies– At many tourist locations, you can find a machine which will imprint something representative of the locale on a penny for a $1.00 fee. There are special books you can buy to store these crushed pennies.

Postcard Collections

Postcards are easy to find and easy to carry while on a road trip. Which ones do you pick up? What can you do with the postcards you collect?

  • State postcards– Most states have a postcard dedicated to the state itself with a map. These make great keepsakes.
  • Places you visit within a state– The popular places have a postcard for sure whether it’s a museum, historical site, or natural spot.
  • Major landmarks– Whether you get to see them all or not. Maybe you pick one up for the places you missed or the ones you neglected to photograph.
  • Send the postcards home– This way you get snail mail and the bonus of a local postmark on your postcard.
  • Put them up around a map at home– and string the location from the card to the place on the map. This is a fun visual representation.
  • Place the postcards into a journal– If you are journaling about your trip, this is a great place for the postcards.
  • Make a book of postcards– We’ve got a notebook of postcards from postcard exchanges and you could make one from the ones you collect on a trip. If you have clear page protectors, you could jot notes on the back so you can still see the notes in the book. Alternatively, you could put them in protectors so they can be removed and read on both sides.

Finding Coins & Postcards

Where do you find coins and postcards while you are traveling? Some places are probably more obvious than others.

  • Souvenir shops– These can be found around towns when you visit and most museums and landmark places have them.
  • National and State Parks– Have postcards and if it’s a place related to any of those coin categories above, they have the coin in the shop. For example, Acadia National Park may have the coin dedicated to the park for sale.
  • Coin Shops– Keep in mind when you visit a coin shop (or any retail outlet), they will charge you more than the value of the coin.
  • Banks– This is the place to pick up newly minted coins as well as those in circulation. We used to collect the Presidential Dollar coins from our small local bank as they were released until they no longer received them. Uncirculated coins are worth more if you are going to be a coin collector.
  • US Mint for Kids– I linked to this site above, but there are lesson plans and stories about the coins on this site. They also will tell you where to find them. There are a few series I didn’t mention and some which are older now which you can explore.

Whatever you decide to collect while on a road trip, it’s fun to be on the lookout for just the right postcard or coin. Enjoy the journey!

2015 Summer Road Trip

In honor of the tradition of the family summer road trip, North Star Geography  is on sale July 1-15, 2015 for 15% off (hardback version only).

July 1-15, 2015; 15% off North Star Geography hardback

Get More Road Trip Goodness by Following Our Special Pinterest Board

Follow Bright Ideas Press’s board Road Trip Learning for Homeschool Families on Pinterest.

Do you have our latest 2015 catalog? Download a PDF copy now.
To get notice of sales and read encouraging articles, sign up for our newsletter.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please refer to the disclosure policy