Holiday Homeschooling: Part 1

Here’s some sage advice:  Take the whole month of December off from doing formal school lessons! 

Yep, that’s what I said and I’m sticking to it!  While December brings Christmas cheer, it can also bring much stress and good old fashion guilt trips.  Homeschooling moms usually feel overwhelmed this time of the year as less and less school work gets accomplished.  If this describes you, or you are looking for a less stressful way to do school this holiday season, join me for this week’s Coffee With Carrie podcast. 

In this week’s coffee break, I give homeschooling mamas permission to take a Sabbath break and I explain how to take the entire month of December off from traditional lessons to focus on the birth of Jesus while building cherished memories.  I share how to use your family’s traditions and your usual Christmas hustle and bustle as your “school work”.  I will let you in on a little secret.  Your kids are already doing a ton of  reading, writing, math, science, and art during the month of December.  And for those moms who just can’t fathom the idea of taking an entire month off of school work, I even give some easy, fun, and educational activities you can do during the month to replace those formal lessons. 

Pour yourself a mug of peppermint mocha latte or a cup of winter chai tea.  You will be inspired by this week’s podcast, it will ease your December guilt, and it will definitely put you into the holiday spirit.   



 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Robinson

 A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 A Christmas Carol by Dickens.  

 The Polar Express,

The Night Before Christmas 

 How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Humphrey’s First Christmas 

The Story of Christmas Book Set and Advent Calendar by Croll

Christmas Carols for a Kid’s Heart by Joni Erickson Tada

FREE Bingo Card Generator

Christmas Time Nature Studies

The “Perfect” Writing Curriculum


writing amour quoteWhile writing this post on “writing,” I was painfully reminded of the number one reason students have trouble writing (or in some cases hate to write)!  It’s Writer’s Block!  Sometimes, it is extremely hard to get the writing process started.

Type A personalities like myself insist on perfection from the beginning of a project.  With that kind of pressure, it is hard to even begin because we are struggling to find the best way to start!  We want to “hook” the audience right away!  Additionally, Perfectionists stall along the way as they obsess over every misspelled word or incorrect punctuation in their first draft.

For older students, they may not know what to write about or how to organize their thoughts.  Younger students simply haven’t lived long enough to have much to write about.  Struggling students may have a limited vocabulary, writer’s fatigue with the act of physically writing, and/or dysgraphia (a form of dyslexia).  Let’s face it!  It is hard to find the perfect curriculum that fits your child’s learning style and meets your family’s learning needs.

1 peterFirst, let’s back up a bit and discuss WHY we want our children to be excellent (or at least proficient) writers and good communicators.  The most important reason to teach reading, writing, and language arts is to help our students share their faith, express their beliefs, and explain the Gospel. 

Especially in the age of texting and tweets, Facebook and Instagram,  blogs and vlogs, and news and fake news, this generation more than any other generation in the past, need the ability to express themselves and defend their faith in a powerful and effective manner.  Is our aim to raise the next C.S. Lewis or Charles Spurgeon?  Probably Not.  But do we want our children to be able to express themselves in spoken and written language to impact their friends, family, and strangers for the kingdom of God?  Oh Yes!  So if our primary goal is NOT to raise the next Mark Twain or to earn a perfect score on the SAT, then your writing instruction can be simple, stress-free and still very fruitful.

Is there a perfect writing curriculum?  I humbly say “No”!  Just like there is not one perfect math curriculum or reading curriculum, there is no such thing as the perfect writing curriculum.  It is easier to use the same curriculum for all students if you have a large family, however like math, your students will probably be at different writing levels and have different writing and spelling abilities.  Writing is one of those subjects that may need to be individualized.  So let’s talk about making your writing instruction easier so you don’t go crazy trying. You CAN teach writing, punctuation, and grammar without a boxed curriculum, and you can do it without breaking your budget!

writing voltaire quoteAfter teaching 25 plus years, writing books and devotionals for homeschooling moms, and homeschooling my own, I have found there are basically SIX essentials to teaching writing and instilling a love of writing in any student:  (1) Read and discuss great books, (2) copy great writers, (3) write something every day, (4) integrate writing, grammar and spelling, (5) practice editing, and (6) play with words!

Check out our PODCAST “Writing Lessons:  You Can Do It.”  CLICK HERE.

In this podcast, we unpack and explain the six basics of  teaching your child to write.  We also explain the method Ben Franklin used to teach himself how to write.

ben-franklin-quotes writingFrom the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:

“About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator – I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it.

With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try’d to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come hand. 

Then I compared my Spectator with the original.  By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language.”

In a nutshell, Franklin did the following: (This is also what IEW uses in Key Word Outlines)

  1. Read an article or passage from a book.
  2. Wrote short hints about each sentence (or a keyword outline) and then set it aside for a while.
  3. Using these short hints, he recalled what the article was about and then rewrote the article in his own words.
  4. Compared his work with the original.
  5. Revised and improved his writing.



The most important thing to remember is if you can read, understand, and evaluate this article on the “perfect” writing curriculum, then you are capable and qualified to teach your child how to write and how to write well!


May God richly bless your teaching and writing for His glory,







Check out our PODCAST “Writing Lessons:  You Can Do It.”  CLICK HERE.

coffee carrie pod cast image

NEW PODCAST: Get Your Feet Wet This Summer with Nature Studies

feet in the sand.jpg.600x315_q67_crop-smartAh, summertime sun and lazy days at the beach!  Some of my favorite times during the year.  Besides relaxing at the beach and sleeping in,  I love “testing out” new things during the summer.  I use the lazy days of summer to try out ideas or activities I might want to do the next school year.

If you are looking for a way to do science next year that is stress-free, text-book free, and guilt-free, then try Nature Studies!  If you are looking for a way to do science this year that doesn’t require an expensive curriculum or expensive outside science classes, then I strongly suggest you do Charlotte Mason style Nature Studies this year!

What are nature studies?  In our latest podcast, we explore how to use your time at the beach (or your free time this summer), dipping your feet into the cool refreshing idea of nature journaling.

nature god's broadcasting systemIn a nutshell, it is using God’s creation as your inspiration for scientific exploration.  No boring textbooks are needed.  No expensive science curriculums are needed.  No hectic outside science classes are needed.  It’s you, your kids, a backpack, a few journals, and the great outdoors!


  1. Explore nature (backyard, neighborhood walks, parks, gardens, zoos, hikes, etc).
  2. Stop, sit, and draw what you see.
  3. Learn about the plant/animals you saw when you get home.
  4. Add info to your drawing (facts, labels, quotes, verses, thoughts, etc)

Yep, it really is that simple!  If you are not sure how to get started or you have always wanted to do nature studies with your family but haven’t tried it yet, summertime is the BEST time to try it out!  If you plan on doing nature studies for the first time this coming school year, summertime is the BEST time to ease into this new and fun way to learn science.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcast, “Nature Studies:  Get Your Feet Wet This Summer.”  It is full of simple and easy things you can do this summer to try out nature studies with your family.  Then go watch and subscribe to Joy Cherrick’s Nature Study Hacking website and newsletter. She is a master!

As promised, we listed resources mentioned in the podcast below.  Happy Exploring!


FREE “Nature Studies for the Nature Deficit Family: How to Get Started” Handout

**The handout also lists places to visit in Southern California but you can use the list as an example of places to explore in your local area.***

ocena anatomy



Step by Step Drawing Instructions

Draw Write Now Series samples and  and links to purchase 

Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces Of the World Under the Sea by Julia Rothman

Lined composition notebooks,  Spiral art sketchbooks, and beautiful lined and unlined journals.  

Quality Colored Pencils



Smithsonian Sea Shell Handbook 

Acorn Naturalist: Laminated Field Guides 

Online classification guides

Shell Museum Identification App.  

Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces Of the World Under the Sea by Julia Rothman



Read Aloud Revival (RAR) Seaside Recommendation List


CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcast, “Nature Studies:  Get Your Feet Wet This Summer.”

coffee carrie pod cast image


SONY DSCGameology is the best way to get through the winter blues and break through the “February Wall.”  What is Gameology?

It is the art of learning through games.   It is an art I have spent many years perfecting!  Yes, I admit it.  I am a game-a-holic!  And I am proud to say through my example my daughter is a game-a-holic too!  When our family started a new unit, we played a game to introduce the topic.  When we needed help remembering information, we played a game.  When we were overwhelmed and overworked, we played games.  When I needed a break (or the kids needed a break), we played games.  While in the car, we played games. While on vacation, we played games.  While waiting at the doctor’s office,  we played games.  When math facts were killing us, we played games. When biology and chemistry terms baffled us, we played games.  During election season, we played games.  During the world series season, we played games.  Before and after historical field trips, we played games.  I think you get the picture.  Any time I could use game time as an excuse to put the books away, I did!

Did you know it takes 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain UNLESS it is done through play?  If a person is learning through play or games, then it only takes 10-20 repetitions!  So you see, science backs me up too!  Playing is our brain’s favorite way to learn.  Playing games is a great way to learn, review and reinforce concepts, skills, and facts.  It is scientifically proven!  There is so little time and so many games to play!

At our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March, we will be sharing how to  travel around the world through books, games, field trips, and family vacations.   In our morning session, “Passport to Learning,” we will focus on our all-time favorite games we used throughout the years to learn about geography, cultures, and countries around the world.  Since we have so many favorite games and so little time in our morning session, I wanted to share some of our favorite math, science, history, grammar, writing, and art games with you in this post!


Let’s get one thing straight before we start:  Not all students will memorize their math facts!  While this act comes easily to many, it is downright impossible for some.  So don’t beat yourself up (or your child) if he still can’t recall quickly and correctly the answer to 6 x 8 !  However, you can play card, dice, and board games to help teach, review and reinforce those pesky math facts and down-right mind-blowing algebraic concepts.

Addition & Multiplication Fact Card Games:  Check out our “12 Days of Christmas” article.  We explain 12 different card and dice games you can play.  Also, my Math FUNdamentals:  Using Games to Teach Math book is out of print, but we are working on a 2nd edition and hope to publish with Amazon in 2021.  All of the games listed below can be played with the whole family.  Each game can also be adapted for younger players or for advanced students.

  1. Quick Pix Multiplication– Fast-paced multiplication fact recall gameI
  2. Quick Pix Math– Same game but with addition facts
  3. Sequence Dice Game–  best addition and strategy game on the market!
  4. Over and Out Card Game– super fun game of adding, subtracting, mental math and doubling
  5. Farkle– hilarious game with lots of adding
  6. Shut the Box– adding, subtracting, and simple order of operations
  7. Uncle Wiggly Game:  game of counting and place value!  Don’t forget to read the tales of Uncle Wiggly!
  8. 24 Card Came– adding, subtracting, and multiplication fun
  9. Zeus on the Loose– Don’t let the name full you!  It is math game with a mythology twist!
  10. Totally Tut- Again, don’t let the name full you!  It is math operations game with an Egyptian pyramid theme.
  11. Sushi Go!  Super fun party game with lots of math addition in the scoring78877n-sequence-dice-game
  12. Absolute Zero Card Game– great for older kids
  13. Equate -math verison of Scrabble
  14. Pizza Fraction Fun Game– Don’t forget to have fun learning fractions too!
  15. ANY Board Game with dice!  Kids are adding every time they roll and move!  Our favorite is Parchessi!
  16. ANY -Opoly Game!  Kids are learning about all kinds of topics while practicing their money skills!  Our family favorite is Dog-opoly!

*** Don’t forget logic is a big part of mathematical thinking!  Add these “must have”
strategy and logic games to your math playtime:  Chess, Clue, Guess Who, Battleship, Mastermind, Logic Links, Set, & Ticket to Ride


Where to begin??  There are so many scientific fields to investigate!  See our “Textbook and Stress-Free Science” article for some of the best science games out there.  In the list below, I share a few new ones on the market and some old classics not mentioned in the science oplogy

  1. Treking the National Parks:  Great way to learn about our national parks and the animals that live in them.
  2. Amazing Animal Trivia Game:  mix between memory and trivia
  3. Guess in 10:  animal card version of 20 questions
  4. Qurious Space:  fast-paced space trivia game
  5. The Invention Game– hilarious guessing game about real patents that were never mass- produced
  6. Totally Gross:  Game of Science– be prepared for some silly science shenanigans!
  7. Rock On!  Geology Game of Rocks & Minerals:  bingo-type game to learn rock cycle



Since we will share our favorite geography games at our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March, this list will focus more on history games you can play.  Shhhh!  Don’t tell your kids they are doing school work!  These games are so fun and jam-packed with information, you may never want to use a history book again!

  1. The Constitution Quest Game:  learn about the 3 branches of governmentIMG_0902
  2. Hail to the Chief:  learn about the electoral college and presidential trivia
  3. Monopoly America Special Edition:  take a trip down American memory lane.  Even the pieces are patriotic
  4. Our America Board Game: tons of trivia facts
  5. Oregon Trail Game: They finally created a card game from the classic computer simulation!
  6. Made for Trade:  great for colonial history (and economics)
  7. Castle Keep:  Medieval strategy
  8. Medieval Alliance:  beautiful board and playing cards
  9. Medieval Memory Game:  learn about important persons and structures medieval-alliance-game.jpg
  10. Senet:  classic Egyptian game, a little bit of math and a lot of Egyptian fun
  11. Ancient History Go Fish Game:  learn about important persons and ancient structures
  12. Feilong:  The China Game– awesome way to learn about ancient China
  13. Any Professor Noggins Games!



In our article, “The Perfect Writing Curriculum,” we shared some of our favorite word games to help build vocabulary and a love of language.  Click here to read it.  There are also the classic spelling games like Scrabble, Boggle and Mad Libs that should be on every homeschooling shelf!  The list below is full of grammar and writing games.  These games are so addictive, I bet the whole family will want to spend all day playing them!tall-tales-game-giveaway.jpg

  1. Tall Tales Story Telling Board Game:  create and spin a tall tale while playing!
  2. Once Upon A Time:  cooperative family game of writing fairytales
  3. Create A Story Board Game:  Draw character, setting, and conflict cards to create the best (or craziest) story
  4. The Plays the Thing:  Super fun game to learn about Shakespeare and three of his balderdash_game-13596.jpg
    plays.  No prior knowledge of Shakespeare needed to play!
  5. Apples to Apples:  Did you know this family favorite is full of adjectives and nouns!
  6. Read My List:  quick thinking, fast-paced game to build vocabulary
  7. Balderdash!    Hilarious game of vocabulary and definitions!  (Did you know Dr. Seuss, Shakespeare, and Roald Dahl make up hundreds of words now used in the English language?


  1.  Lord of Chords: Wow!  Expensive but beautifully done.  Full of music puns and clever way to learn simple and complex music theory.
  2. Art History Games:  Go Fish for Art Renaissance Card Game, Impressionist Artists Go Fish,  Van Gogh and Friends Go Fish Card Game, & American Ditto Art Game


Coming in a future post, “Soul Food,” we will share some of our favorite Bible games too!

So that, my friend, is Gameology in a nut-shell!  We hope your family will love playing these games as much as we did!

God bless,


**If you would like to learn more about using games, literature, and fieldtrips to teach geography, history (and just about everything else), join us at our 3rd annual special weekend for homeschooling moms on March 27th and 28th.  In our morning session, “Passport to Learning,” we will share tons of ideas of how to incorporate traveling, games, and literature into your homeschooling!

For more information, click HERE.

To register, click HERE.

homeschool adventure new flyer image



!Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! Buon Natale!

Mele Kalikimaka! God Jul!  Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund

(Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ)!  Merry Christmas!


Welcome back to Holiday Homeschooling Part 2.  In this week’s episode, I continue my conversation about how to take a Sabbath break during the entire month of December to celebrate the true reason for the season.  

In Part 2 of Holiday Homeschooling CWC Podcast, I share how to replace formal school work this holiday season with some fun (and educational) geography activities.  This month instead of formal reading, writing, and math lessons, learn about how other countries and cultures around the world celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I give ideas on how “travel” the world this December while learning, cooking, baking, creating, and reading your way through holidays. 

You and your family can do some of the Christmas traditions and cultural celebrations presented in this week’s podcast instead of formal lessons or stressful school work. Join me for this little holiday coffee break.  This podcast will probably become one of your favorites.


resources mentioned in podcast