Category Archives: Homeschooling

New Homeschool Blog

Once upon a time, I blogged about homeschooling here. Then life got busy with little ones. Well, my littles aren’t *quite* so little anymore, so I’ve decided to pick it back up but I’ve moved it over to a new space, keeping the two niches (Digital Scrapbooking and Education / Homeschooling) separate going forward. My digital scrapbooking posts will remain here, like always.

If you have any interest in education, if you are a homeschooling family, or if you are a local family just looking for fun educational ideas to do with your kids around town, please give the new Facebook Page for Everyday Canvas a like and/or visit my new blog at It would be much appreciated!

Also, if you live locally (Denver area), I am working on a list of educational opportunities specific to that area, too. Local Free days, educational classes, homeschool days, or other things I come across. I’ve long been curating my own list of bookmarks and resources for my family so I thought it would be nice to have everything in one place and I enjoy sharing with others. It is a WIP, but I am excited about it. (The list of Denver Area Events has been started. Denver Area Resources will be coming soon!) I’d love to hear of any events I’ve missed or other things locally that you think would be nice to have a list all on one site. (The best local parks, hikes for kids, something else?)

How to save a PDF to Google Drive from a browser using an iPhone or an iPad

I am beginning the process of organizing my homeschool curriculum and online resources for my three children. It is quite the job, let me tell you! Even though I consider myself to be quite “techie,” I have many of my resources saved only on my computer right now. But my eldest child is now in middle school and we find ourselves needing to share documents regularly, such as her homework assignments or the latest chapter in the Minecraft fan fiction story she is writing using Google Docs.

One way I am starting to move things online is to start saving our homeschool resources we’ve collected over the years to Google Drive. This way, my daughter and I can both access and update them from any device at any time.

We use a lot of Apple products (Macbooks, iPads, and iPhones.) I was having a hard time finding tutorials on how to save a PDF to Google drive from an iPad or iPhone when the PDF is open in the device’s browser. After playing around with it, I discovered it was quite simple, really; you just need to know where to look!


  • You must have the Google Drive app (free) installed on your ios device.
  • You will need to have a Google account and should have it already setup (by logging in) on the Google Drive app on your device. (Note: the app typically does not log you out, so you do not need to open it and login every time. Once you have logged in, it remembers your login credentials unless you remove them.)

Safari is the default browser installed on ios systems, so unless you have downloaded and regularly use a different browser app on your device, chances are good that when you open a PDF on your device that you are viewing it in Safari. I will also include directions for Google Chrome, too, since that is my favorite browser and the one I use. (Step 3 is the only step that has a slight variation amongst the two browsers.)

How to save a PDF from the Safari or Chrome browser to Google Drive

  1. Open the PDF in your Safari or Google Chrome browser on your ios device.
  2. Tap anywhere on the PDF form (but not on a link if it has hyperlinks included) to get to the PDF save options.
  3. If using Safari, an option for “More” will appear at the top of the PDF. Tap “More” to receive a list of options for your PDF form and select “Drive.” If using Google Chrome, an option for “Open in” will appear at the bottom right corner of the PDF. Tap “Open in” and select “Drive.” 

    • Note: If Drive is not an option listed in your row of available apps, scroll through the options to the right until you see an option for “More.” Select “More” and you will be given a list of activities that you can add to your default scroll list of apps for the future. Make sure Drive is turned on.
    • You can use the icon with the three lines (by dragging and dropping) to reorder how the activities appear in your default list.
    • Select “Done.”
  4. Select the “Drive” icon. 
      • You can rename the PDF by tapping on the PDF name.
      • You can select which Google Drive account to save it to (if you have more than one) by tapping on the email address field.
      • You can select which folder the PDF will be saved to by selecting the “My Drive” option and then selecting the individual folder within your Drive and selecting “Save Here.”
      • You can also designate sharing options for the PDF.

  5. Select Upload. The PDF will now be saved to the designated folder in your Google Drive account.

Printable/Downloadable Copy – How to Save a PDF from the ios (iPad, iPhone) browser to the Google Drive App.

Music in Your Homeschool

Music is an important part of our family. My husband plays several instruments and is in a garage band (he was in a band when we met, too, so of course I couldn’t resist developing a crush), I sing and was a part of a musical group in college, my mother-in-law teaches piano and composes, and my dad sings and is in a barbershop quartet. One of my favorite things to do on a date with my husband is attend concerts. Music is important to us and so naturally, we want to pass our passion for music on to our children.

Not only will all three of our girls (eventually) learn an instrument, but I also want to develop in them an appreciation for different kinds of music.

One resource we have been using in our homeschool this year is The Story of the Orchestra.

Brief Description

The Story of the Orchestra is a hardcover book that guides you through each instrument typically found in an orchestra, along with a CD that contains samples of each instrument to listen to. The book also teaches about famous composers and musicians from different eras (Romantic, Modern, etc), along with a musical sample of one of their compositions.

How We Use It In Our Homeschool

One day a week, I read 1-2 pages (depending on the topic) to my daughters. We then listen to the music sample included on the CD. Often, we also search Youtube to find a video of a live orchestra playing the full song. Many of the songs are LONG (20 minutes or more) so we’ll let it play in the background as we continue on with our day. One way to draw in my little girls, ages 6 and 3, is I will search for the song in a cartoon. For instance, many of the old Looney Tunes and Disney cartoons relied on a lot of orchestral music as the background music for their cartoons. What a fun way to introduce orchestral and classical music to children without them even realizing it! And even if you are unsure if they are picking up the music, they ARE. My girls often will recognize a song that they’ve heard before, even if they cannot remember the composer of the song. I still call that a win!

Sample Pages

There are pages about specific instruments, such as the cello. These contain historical information along with fun facts. If you look at the image below, you will also see (in the orange oval) directions on which track to play, along with things to listen for in the song and/or more information about the song.

Story of the Orchestra - Cello

There are also pages specific to composers. These contain facts about the composer, their musical style, and their compositions. (Did you know that there was almost a riot during one of Stravinsky’s concerts? Just one of many fun pieces of trivia throughout the book.)

Story of the Orchestra - Igor Stravinsky

My 11yo daughter was inspired by what she learned about this particular composer, Igor Stravinsky. She likes to compose her own songs on the piano already, and after reading (and listening) to Stravinsky’s unique style of dissonance, I later heard her at the piano experimenting with some dissonant chords. Score! (pun not intended)

How do you incorporate music in your homeschool? (Seriously, I will need some ideas for next year!)

*No Reimer Reason is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to I did not receive any free items for this post and the opinions are my own.

Time 4 Learning Review

We recently had the opportunity to use the online program, Time4Learning. Our family embraces technology and online learning, so I was excited to see how it might fit into our homeschool day.

Time4Learning’s online curriculum includes science, social studies and language arts. I found the language arts for 2nd grade to be too easy for my daughter, so I changed her default grade level to be moved to 3rd grade. As a side note: all students have access to their default grade, as well as the grades directly below and above at all times.

My 7yo daughter really enjoyed her classes. The videos, games and characters made learning fun for her. She would often ask if she could “do school” with the program. How could I say no? 🙂

As a parent, I really appreciate that I have my own “dashboard” where I can not only control the types of lessons my daughter will use but also can see which lessons and quizzes she has completed and her scores. I also appreciate that she can use this program independently. With a new baby in the house and a busy 3yo, this is a big plus for our family.

My daughter was sad this morning when I told her our 30 day trial was over. We discussed it and decided to purchase a subscription. I plan on continuing to use it both as an incentive (since it makes learning FUN) and as a supplement / enhancement to our regular schooling.

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been given the opportunity to review their program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. For more information, check out their standards-based curriculum or learn how to write your own curriculum review.

Time4Learning Trial Subscription

I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Homeschooling 2nd Grade

My 7yo daughter’s homeschool co-op started this past week. She was so eager for it to begin again that she was counting down the days.

Now that she is in 2nd grade, we could choose the elective classes she takes. Here are the subjects she and I chose together:

1st Period: General Science
2nd Period: Computer Skills
3rd Period: Electronics
4th Period: Art
6th Period: Nature Crafts
7th Period: Kitchen Classroom

Doesn’t that sound like a fun lineup?

Here is our 2nd grader on her first day of her homeschool co-op. 🙂

First Day of School

We just completed our third week of school work here at home. Here is a quick list of the subjects we are working on:

English: Bob Jones 2 (with a concentration on writing, proofreading, etc. this year)
Math: Abeka Arithmetic 2
History/Geography: Sonlight Core C
Reading: Sonlight with 3rd grade readers
Literature: Sonlight Core C
Spelling: All About Spelling and BJU Spelling
Handwriting: BJU Handwriting
Science: Sonlight
Health: Abeka

She also recently started taking a daytime gymnastics class. So far, she really enjoys it and is happily learning how to do cartwheels and is working on her balance on the balance beam.

One big change for us this year was the decision to stop going to a local Music Academy for her music lessons. Although my daughter and I both loved the program, it was difficult for us to make it to class on time every week. Since parent involvement was required and younger siblings could not attend the class, we had to rely on my husband to rush home from work (which wasn’t always an option for him) so we could leave our toddler at home with him and then leave to attend class. With another baby coming, I just didn’t think it would be a good fit for us this year. So, we are starting regular piano lessons instead. I have a friend who teaches piano and as an extra bonus, she comes to her students’ houses to teach. That sounds perfect! Lessons start next week.

So there is the rundown of what we will be working on in 2nd grade this year. Looking forward to another fun and busy year!

Zoo Trip – Scrapbook Layout

One of the benefits of homeschooling – impromptu field trips! 🙂

Zoo Scrapbook Layout
Scraplift of a layout by AnyaL, Kit is Zoe Pearn’s “Isn’t She Lovely”

When spring hits, especially when we have these mild Colorado days, we really struggle with Spring fever and the desire to be outside. Yet I keep looking at the calendar and comparing it with the number of lessons we have yet to do. Guess we’d better not play hooky for too many days. 🙂

Winter Scrapbook Layouts

We have gotten a couple of nice snowstorms already this winter, much to my 6yo daughter’s delight. My just-turned-two year old isn’t so impressed (yet). What a contrast these cold, snowy pages are to our mild 65 degree weather today though! I even have the windows open – such a delight!

Snow Scrapbook Layout
Credits: Kit used is Sir Scrap-a-lot‘s “Hearts of Winter”, Template is a freebie from Marie at Free Digital Scrapbooking

The day after the girls played in the snow in the above layout, my daughter wrote a little story about it at her homeschool co-op “Fun with Language” class. I will have to include this in our scrapbook, as it is a lot cuter than my own journaling! 🙂

Homeschool Writing Assignment

It reads:

“I love my mom because she let me play in the snow. It’s my sister’s first day in the snow. My sister did not touch the snow.”

Snow Scrapbook Layout
Credits: Kit used is Sir Scrap-a-lot‘s “Hearts of Winter”, Template is a freebie by Sahlin Studio

Both digital scrapbook layouts were created from FREE digital templates that I found online. The locations of both are linked up for you in the credits of each page so you can download them too.

Science Experiment (Atoms and Molecules)

In our science curriculum, Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry, we are learning about atoms and how they join together in different ways to create molecules. Adrianna particularly enjoyed the science experiment that went along with this chapter. We got to create molecules using marshmallows and toothpicks! And afterward, we got to eat our creations. 🙂

Science experiment

Science experiment

Science experiment

Autumn Art

I often peruse through teaching and homeschooling blogs to find ideas to incorporate into our homeschool day. When I find something that I or Adrianna might like to do, I “pin” the idea to my Pinterest account. (Pinterest is a visual bookmarking system. I blogged more about Pinterest here.) One such craft that I recently pinned was an autumn tear-art picture.

At first, my little perfectionist was not too keen on actually tearing the paper to make her picture. So she cut the tree trunk and branches instead and I started ripping some leaves. After awhile, she loosened up and ripped some leaves too.

Autumn Art

Here is her finished picture. I love how she made it her own by making it into a tree-house for Mario and Princess Peach.

Autumn Art

I decided to use it as part of our autumn decor on our fireplace mantle.

Autumn Art

Do you use Pinterest? (Be warned: it can be addicting!)

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Starting our First Grade Year

Things have been really busy around our house now that school has started back up. First grade is off to a good start!

We have a new desk from Ikea. Adrianna and I share the desk, which has been working out great. Although I do look forward to the day when she will be able to do more independent work.

New Desk

New Desk

We switched up some of our curriculum this year. Here is a sample of today’s workboxes:

For Math, we are using Abeka.

For History/Geography/Social Studies, we are using Sonlight again. Their Usborne books are still on my favorites list and Adrianna really enjoys them too. She has really been getting into the Peoples of the World book shown below.

For Reading, we are trying out Bob Jones (BJU).

Spelling, Phonics and Handwriting are also BJU. Here is a sample of the spelling.

For Bible, we are using Sonlight. When I sat down on the floor to read this to Adrianna today, Bree spotted the book in my hand and immediately backed up her little hiney and plopped right down into my lap. She loves colorful books.

For Read-Alouds, we are also using Sonlight. Their read-aloud selections are another reason I chose to use them again this year. This is the poetry book we are reading out of. (Warped after a quick stint in the water table, courtesy of Bree.) We are also currently in the middle of Charlotte’s Web, which we usually read at bedtime rather than placing in a workbox.

I found this next book at the homeschool conference in June and, knowing Adrianna’s keen interest in maps, I thought it would be a great addition to our year. It has really been a hit so far and she likes coloring the maps after we are done.


For science, we are going to try out Real Science 4 Kids’ Chemistry curriculum. Hopefully it will arrive in the mail soon!

Bree is pretty good about entertaining herself during school, at least part of the time. Since our school room also doubles as the playroom, she happily toddles around pulling toys and books off of their shelves and generally creates a big mess. My little tornado.

Homeschooling and Personal History

AdriannaOne (of the many) things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity to tie history or world events to our family and personal histories. Or being able to tie them to experiences that I know Adrianna has had. Not only does it make school more real and fun, but it also helps broaden her world view so she can see how it relates to her personally.

For instance, today in History we discussed World War 2. Part of the discussion was about how the Germans began to bomb London so many of the children were sent away, for their safety, to live in the countryside. Tie in: the reason the kids in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were in that big mysterious house in the country at the beginning of the story. I love watching the wheels turn in her mind as she puts those two pieces of information together. Another tie in in regards to the Nazis and the Holocaust that I was able to remind her of: the Twenty and Ten story we read a few weeks ago.

In Social Studies today, we had a true story about C.F. Klassen and how, right after World War 2, he helped many Russian Mennonites (who spoke Low German) immigrate to safety to Canada, the U.S. and South America. Tie in: my husband’s family has a Mennonite background, his grandparents speak Low German and his grandfather has done translation work into Low German for Low German speaking people in South America. I was very excited to be able to talk about these pieces of family history right along with our Social Studies story.

Now obviously, not every day has such obvious tie-ins but it is so nice getting a firsthand look at everything Adrianna is learning and being able to point back to school things that come up in everyday conversations. Also today, she was coloring a picture online of a castle that had a moat. I was able to remind her of the castles we learned about in History a few months ago that had moats as a form of protection from enemies and also refer to a book we read (The Magic Tree House: Knight at Dawn) that also had a moat in it. Repetition, repetition.

*If* Adrianna does make it into the charter school down the road for the next school year and *if* I decide to send her, I am going to be sorely tempted to ask the teacher for a syllabus just so I can stay actively involved in what she is learning and continue to look for opportunities to tie it to our everyday lives. (Do elementary teachers even have syllabuses?)

Super Mario Pictograph

For our Math curriculum, we are using Saxon Math. The recommended assignment for Friday was to create a Winter Activities pictograph, graphing favorite indoor vs. outdoor winter activities. When making my lesson plans the night before, I decided that it would be a lot more fun for Adrianna to make a Super Mario pictograph instead.

In her work box, I put 8 squares I had cut out of some light blue card stock. When she opened that drawer, she was instructed to draw 8 of her favorite Mario characters. (I did not include the chart I’d made for the project nor did I tell her what we would be doing with the drawings, as I didn’t want to skew the results in any way.)

After she had drawn 8 characters, I gave her a glue stick and the chart and told her we were going to make a pictograph and that she needed to graph out the “good guys” on the first line and the “bad guys” on the lower line.

Final result – Good Guys 5 (Mario, Princess Daisy, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad) vs. Bad Guys 3 (Goomba, Bowser, Magikoopa).

Mario Pictograph

What’s in the WorkBox: Kindergarten edition

I really enjoy seeing samples of what others are using in their workbox system. It was blog posts by other homeschool moms showing how they used their workbox system in their school day that inspired me to want to give it a try. I also am hooked on seeing what curriculum and creative ideas others use with their kids.

So, here is my first “What’s in the box Wednesday” post. Except the day I took the photos was Thursday and I am posting it on a Saturday. Oh well, it still will provide a glimpse of our school days this past week.

The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: I love this history book and its illustrations. Even I feel like I am learning as I read it out loud to Adrianna. This week, we read about “Chinese Ways” from 500 years ago.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia: Like the book above, this is another amazing book from Usborne. It contains science and history. This week we read about Ming China around 500ish years ago. This book also has a website with many linked resources to supplement and enhance whatever subject you are studying. Adrianna and I used google to search for images of the Great Wall of China.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

I Can Read It! Book 1: This particular subject (reading) tends to be one of our most difficult to complete each day in terms of motivation on Adrianna’s part, so I always try to put it towards the beginning of our day, basically so we can get it over with. I also try to sandwich it between two books that I read out loud to her so that the subjects before and after are easier for her.

She is doing well with her reading and can read or sound out consonant-vowel-consonant words pretty easily when she wants to.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

The Light at Tern Rock: A fiction read-aloud book that we read through this week. She wasn’t as into it as some of the other read-alouds we’ve done in the past with the Sonlight curriculum.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

Explode the Code 1: Our writing curriculum which basically is a workbook of activities to get her thinking, reading and writing vowel-consonant-vowel words. She usually does very well with these.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

For math, one thing we are currently working on is learning how to tell time on both regular and digital clocks. So far we have worked on the full and half hours. These worksheets I found for free online and are not part of our normal curriculum. We also practice identifying the time using a whiteboard, on which I write a digital clock time, and by moving the big and little hands on some clock faces that came with our Saxon Math curriculum as a manipulative.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

Weather: For science right now we are learning more about the weather. This week we discussed how animals adapt and survive different weather by their fur coats changing color or by migrating.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

National Geographic Kids Magazine and Great Migrations Map from the National Geographic Magazine: We recently subscribed to National Geographic and also National Geographic Kids. I was so excited to see the first kids magazine that we received talked about animal migrations since that lined up with what we talked about in our Science class. And even better was the fact that one of our recent National Geographic magazines included a map of animal migrations as well. Love it! So these made it into a workbox to expand upon animal migrations this week.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

Arts/Crafts: I try to include some fun projects or even small dollar store toy incentives in our workboxes from time to time. Adrianna loves to paint, so these new paints and brushes were a big hit.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

With our new paint, we painted Adrianna’s hand and made a turkey out of it. I found the idea on Itsy Bitsy Learning. My little girly-girl decided to add a crown, a bib, and jewels at the ends of the turkeys feathers.

For more workbox ideas, you can visit Confessions of a Homeschooler every Wednesday.

Our Homeschool Workbox System

As a new homeschool mom, I have been frequenting many homeschool blogs for ideas, tips and any other helpful information I can find. One thing I have noticed is a lot of buzz surrounding the “workbox system”.

Our first six weeks of homeschooling went well overall. But although our Sonlight curriculum breaks everything down daily/weekly for me, I was still feeling a bit disorganized. It doesn’t help that we are currently on Week 8 for History and English, Week 5 for Reading (our most difficult subject), Week 3 for Science (which we added after we’d already started our school year), our Math isn’t broken up in the same way by weeks and I enjoy adding a lot of supplemental worksheets and tasks I find online.

After reading this great post on workboxes by Confessions of a Homeschooler, I decided I wanted to give the workbox system a try. So a couple of weekends ago, Greg and I visited one of my favorite stores, The Container Store, to see what they had that could be used for a workbox system. I ended up deciding to get some elfa metal drawers similar to the ones that we had bought earlier this year to organize our large Lego collection.

elfa Drawers for Legos

We ended up buying two more of the elfa metal drawer systems. The one on the left with the 10 shallow drawers will be used for our homeschooling. Since our school room also doubles as my office and the playroom, the drawer set on the right is going to house popular toys, such as dress-up clothes, Duplos (yes, we have a lot of Legos AND Duplos), kitchen set supplies and toy animals.

Our Workbox System

We decided not to buy the particle board tops to the drawer systems that The Container Store sells. Instead, Greg made me one out of some leftover wood, stain and varnish he had in the garage from when he made me my kitchen island. I love that the top he made me is one solid table top instead of two separate ones like the store had because I can easily put some school supplies and my printer on top.

Using our new drawers, we started our own version of the workbox system last week. What a difference it has made in our school day already! I am able to easily plan out our school day the night before (using a spreadsheet) and put each subject or task into its own drawer. When we start school, my daughter and I can both see how much schoolwork we have left before we are done for the day. Another bonus: we are actually getting more done in the same amount of time we had spent previously on our school day. I love this system.

Right now I am only planning one day at a time and that seems to work fine for us.

An additional benefit I hope to glean from this system is for my daughter to become more independent with some of her schoolwork. The Sonlight curriculum is literature based and since she is only now learning to read (she is in Kindergarten), that means that much of my time is spent reading to her. When we do have worksheets or other work that she could do on her own, she often wants me to sit with her and basically look over her shoulder as she completes the assignment and asks me lots of questions instead of trying to figure things out on her own. What I am working toward is have her work on her own, when it makes sense to do so, and turn in the assignment for me to grade later. I will be available for questions but I don’t want to be her crutch; I want her to try to figure things out on her own.

Here is a picture from our workboxes today. You can see that we have already finished our first two assignments, as the drawers have already been emptied.

Our Workbox System

I do not do the subjects in the same order each day. My only loose guidelines (so far) are that I put reading near the top since it is our most difficult subject and I try to intersperse independent or fun activities so we don’t feel too bogged down by too many read-alouds in a row, etc.

The beauty of the workbox system is that it is so customizable. Do a search for the workbox system and a lot of homeschool blogs will come up, each with their own version of the system. I have also joined some Yahoo groups that are just for workboxes and sharing ideas and free printables. How in the world did people homeschool before the internet? 😉

Do you use the workbox system or another organization system in your school day? Link me up in the comments; I would love to come check out how YOU do school.