How to Aim Your Homeschool Rocket for a Successful Blast Off

Even if you’ve already started your homeschool year, you will still be blessed by the experiences of the homeschool moms who wrote these guides to a successful blast off of your homeschool rocket.

Back to School Helps from Bright Ideas Press

1. Ease Into The New School Year: 10 Tips For The First Week Of School
2. Starting the New Homeschool Year Strong
3. Preparing Your Heart For A New School Year
4. Creating a Startup Plan and a Backup Plan for Your Homeschool
5. The Top 10 Things You Need to Get Ready for the New School Year
6. 3 Back-to-School Secrets Every Homeschool Mom Should Know
7. How to Make This Year Your Best Homeschool Year Ever
8. Avoid First Day Meltdowns by Easing Into Your Homeschool Schedule

Organizing and Preparing Your Materials

1. Storing, Organizing and Saving The Mystery of History Downloads
2. How to Set up a Notebook for a New Year of The Mystery of History
3.(video) How to Organize The Mystery of History Once, Part One & Part Two
4.(video) Planning My Homeschool Year in 5 Minutes With Illuminations


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Free Shipping for August 2015

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North Star Geography is Now on Audio

Our popular junior high and high school geography curriculum North Star Geography is now available as an audio book. Narrated by the author, Tyler Hogan, this is an unabridged version of the student reader, conveniently divided into zipped MP3 chapters.

North Star Geography Audio

Click here to see North Star Geography Audio Book in our store and listen to an audio sample.

Watch a Video Introduction to North Star Geography

Just for Laughs

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Avoid First Day Meltdowns by Easing Into Your Homeschool Schedule

Avoid First Day Meltdowns by Easing Into Your Homeschool ScheduleMy first couple of years as a homeschooler, I decided I would follow the public school schedule. We started the same day the public schools started, took our vacations when they did, and ended when they did.

I started out so excited on that first day of school but ended up miserable! The children were cranky. They had forgotten things from the previous year, and it was too hot in the afternoon to send them outside. I was super stressed and did not get half as much accomplished as I thought I would. I wanted our school year to start out great, not with everyone in tears, so I decided I needed to find a better way.

Set Your Own Schedule

My first big realization was that we didn’t have to mimic what the public school did. In our state we have no regulations on how many days we need to school or how long each homeschool day needs to be. Homeschooling gave me the freedom to tailor the curriculum to the child, so surely it could give me the freedom to tailor the schedule to the family! We moved to a four-day per week schedule and started to school year round. I chose a lighter schedule in the summer, working about an hour per day on core skills such as reading and math and some fun hands on activities. Our regular curriculum would start in August and end in May, and we took several breaks throughout the year.

Ease Into That Schedule

Instead of jumping right in to a full schedule for the new year, I decided we would start easing in and gradually work back up to our 3 -3 ½ hours of school a day a little at a time. It is still pretty hot when we start our school year, so we spend the first few weeks outdoors in the morning and start back to homeschool with afternoon classes.

The first week we start with math and do one assignment each day. Week two we continue with math and add in reading and spelling. Week 3 we continue on with math, reading, and spelling and add in writing and grammar. Starting in week 4 we add in our morning school work, starting with P.E., Bible, and a family read aloud. By week 5, we are at a full schedule with history and science on alternating days, art once a week, and all of our afternoon classes in full swing.

Changing our schedule and easing into the new homeschool year has worked out so much better for our family. The children aren’t shell shocked from the transition of no school at all one day to a full school day the next. It makes it much easier for me to make the adjustment as well and make changes to my expectations as needed. Rather than dreading the first day of school, we enjoy it and look forward to adding in new things each week. It also helps us end our regular curriculum each year a little more smoothly. Instead of rushing to get everything finished by a certain day, we finish our subjects gradually and have more time to get things done if we fall behind during the year.

Homeschooling should be a joy and not a chore. If starting back to homeschool is stressful for you or your children, think about making adjustments to your schedule or easing back into it a little at a time.

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How to Set up a Notebook for a New Year of The Mystery of History

How to Set up a Notebook for a New Year of The Mystery of History

I don’t know if you know this, but Bright Ideas Press has some awesome materials for The Mystery of History (MOH) series. Since this is my third year preparing MOH notebooks for kids, and have finally found a great way to set up notebooks for The Mystery of History.

Gather Supplies for Your MOH Notebook

(links marked with an * are affiliate links)

  • 2 inch notebook (or a binding machine)
  • The Mystery of History printables* (my example is for The Mystery of History Volume III)
    • coloring pages
    • notebooking pages
    • lapbook pages
    • quizzes (I give the pre-tests verbally.)
  • Wondermaps*
  • Extra coloring pages or documents found online or in print

Put together Your MOH Notebook

Okay, now find a new TV show to half pay attention to or a movie you really like to have in the background because this part might take some time.

Print out all the MOH printables single sided. You’ll change them to double-sided later, but you want single-sided to start out.

Organize all of this material into the lessons and weeks.  I put the coloring page first for the week, then the notebooking pages and any relevant maps, lapbook pages, and then the quiz for the week.

This will take a few hours to organize.  The good news is once you have that all put together, you can keep track of it and use this again the next time you cycle back to these pages.

Next I go down to a local copy store and run it all through the copier double-sided.  It reduces the amount of paper and makes our notebook a bit thinner.

Now if you’re using a 3-ring binder you can skip this step, but if you’re binding your own notebook, then use a piece of cardstock for the covers. I like to laminate the cardstock to make it even more durable.

You can now declare it finished at this point or add dividers to mark each quarter. I’m debating between sticky notes and washi tape for our MOH notebook dividers.

My kids love our notebooks. In fact, they pull out their old notebooks from time to time to reminisce about past lessons.  It’s really rather amusing to me as they point and say, “I remember that lesson.  Remember we did such and such activity.” The notebook becomes a way to review history and recognize growth in their handwriting and composition skills.

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How to Make This Year Your Best Homeschool Year Ever

How to Make This Homeschool Year Your Best Ever

Back to school is upon us, and we all have expectations of great things ahead. Instead of only hoping for a successful year, here are five things I’m doing this year to ensure that our homeschool year is better than ever.

Have a printing party

Spend some time printing what needs to be used for the entire school year so the papers are ready to go when you need them. If you are like me, you find those tiny disruptions to print a notebooking page quite annoying when they happen in the middle of a homeschool lesson. It’s totally unnecessary to interrupt the flow of your school day in order to print or make a copy of a coloring pageGo ahead and get it all done ahead of time.

Printing it all out now also gives you a chance to preview what your children will be learning during the year. Moreover, if it’s already printed, it’s more likely to actually get used. PDF files that remain on disc or on my computer are often forgotten.

Explore new books and curriculum

Take some time to familiarize yourself with any new books that you have purchased for your school year. I’m not suggesting that you read every single title (although I will admit, that is my temptation), but you can at least read the back cover and the table of contents to see how the book is laid out.

Invest in some cool, new supplies

After buying cheap binders every single year, this year I decided to invest in heavy duty ones. I’m hoping that they will last forever.

It’s also fun to buy new markers, pencils, glue sticks, and highlighters (especially since they are usually on sale at this time of year). Replace the old and worn out folders. Invest in new composition notebooks and maybe some cool new gel pens too. I find that new supplies help the kids feel excited about school starting. And who doesn’t love new sharpies and white board markers, anyway?

Organize your school areas

Organizing our school books and homeschool areas helps me prepare for the upcoming year. While I organize books and learning tools, I also gather my thoughts about what direction I want our school days to go. This summer my husband and children have re-finished a set of school lockers for us to store our school books and belongings. Bookshelves and rolling carts help keep supplies and books from piling up on the kitchen table or on the floor of the family room.

Take time to group subjects together so when it’s time for math, you don’t have to frantically search for the math blocks. Or when it’s time to do some nature drawing and journaling, everything is in a basket by the door ready to go. No more hunting for pencils and magnifying glasses at the last second because you are organized this year!

Spend time in prayer

Most importantly, spend some time seeking God’s will for your family this school year. What new things is God wanting to show you and your children? Has God revealed to you an attitude that you or your family members need to work on — first time obedience, respect, or kindness?

Has God shown you an area that your family could serve in? Don’t forget that learning comes in all forms and that mission opportunities often lie just around the corner. Spend some time in prayer that your school year would be full of learning opportunities and that God has waiting for you.


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New Companion Guide for The Mystery of History Vol. II

The Mystery of History Volume II Companion Guide

We are pleased to announce the release of the Companion Guide for The Mystery of History Volume II.

The Mystery of History Volume II Companion Guide replaces the Reproducible CD and sports a new interface as well as all the activity directions.

Our new Companion Guide saves time, money and headaches. Now you can print out all Mystery of History Volume II reproducibles from your home computer!  This disk includes:

  • pre-tests
  • post-tests
  • quarterly worksheets
  • semester tests
  • individual maps
  • most appendices

This means that if you have the Kindle Edition of MOH 2 (or the audiobooks), then this Companion Guide is all you need to have a complete MOH 2 experience.

This guide can be purchased in two formats:

  1. download $19.95
  2. CD $24.95

(Co-op licenses are available at the usual rate.)

Click here to place your order. Or contact us with questions.




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