Top Book Suggestions for 9-11 Year Old

I happen to have a 9-year old that devours books and I am always on the lookout for a new series for her to read.  So in the spirit of sharing some series that we have enjoyed in the last 6 months, I have created a quick list of some we have loved. If you liked the Lemony Snicket series, you will most likely enjoy these 3:

  • The League of Beastly Dreadfuls Book 1 by Holly Grant 
  • The League of Beastly Dreadfuls Book 2 by Holly Grant 
  • The League of Beastly Dreadfuls Book 3 by Holly Grant 

If you have a reader that likes a mystery with kids being the heroes, and a spin on your classic Fairy Tale characters, here is a new series with 3 out already and the 4th to be released in March:

  • Fairy Tale Reform School Flunked
  • Fairy Tale Reform School Charmed
  • Fairy Tale Reform School Switched
  • Fairy Tale Reform School Tricked

Note the next set of series also come in a few graphic novels as well if that is where your child’s interests lie:

  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 1
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 2
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 3
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 4
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 5

Once you have completed the first 5, the next series picks up and links Percy Jackson and friends in this newer series:

  • Heroes of Olympus Book 1
  • Heroes of Olympus Book 2
  • Heroes of Olympus Book 3
  • Heroes of Olympus Book 4
  • Heroes of Olympus Book 5

Next in the series with the Olympians theme is the “Trials of Apollo” series.  We haven’t read them yet but, they are what she will be reading next.  Rick Riordan is a great storyteller and his writing has captivated my child.  Finally, a few great reads that we have gone back and read several times over the years.  Sometimes a fun read is too good to put away for long.

  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • Falling for  Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

Falling for Rapunzel isn’t in the same chapter book category as the others but an early reading book that we love to go back to as it simply makes us laugh every time.  My kids have always enjoyed discussing any book they are reading.  If the book is good, there is a great deal to share and discuss along the way. I hope that there is a book or two on our list that is new to you and you can enjoy them as much as we did.

Favorite Curriculum We Love

Too many choices

Whether you choose to unschool, homeschool, public school or private school we all want the same thing.  We want what is best for our children.  Choosing the curriculum in public and private school is done for you.  Homeschooling means you have endless options in front of you.  For some having so many choices can be daunting. It is easier than you think.

First, what type of learner is your child?  Do they learn best from a book, from hands-on activities or from watching others in action?  Seems like it should be an easy choice.  That isn’t always the case. You may have one child that learns differently from your other children.  That is ok, every child is different.  Your child may learn different ways in different subjects.  As homeschool parents, it is our job to decipher what works and what doesn’t.

What are my options?

Second, know your options. Being a homeschool parent is the same as being a detective.  We need to watch for the clues in our children’s learning style.  There are many options in stores, online and also simply looking around us.  Every day we are offered learning opportunities.

A trip to the grocery store teaches budgeting, food pyramid, colors, shapes and so much more.  Be creative, think outside the box.  If your child is a visual learner, create more games and learning field trips that they can write reports on after.  If you have a kid that loves to take pics, a photo journal or report with creative captions is an option.  Better still, if you have a teen with a smartphone, they can make a video report to go with a written one.


Finally, the best tip I can give is simple.  Have fun with it.  Let your kids help choose their classes.  There are set things they need to learn from each subject at each grade level, how they learn that is up to you.  You do not need to use standard school books.  You pick what you are most comfortable with and what will work for your family.  Keep in mind that math core basics can be learned in many ways, same with spelling and grammar.  As for art, well that is filled with endless options from clay, paint,  or even photography.  Science is another wonderfully variety filled subject from natural science with animals and nature all around us.  History, our country is chock full of it!  Just about anywhere you go in any state you can find a piece of history to share.


You chose to homeschool, have fun with it.  Enjoy when they cross those milestones and take pride in knowing that you did it together.    You will make mistakes, that is life.  That is ok.  Your kids know you aren’t perfect and seeing you admit when something isn’t working and shifting to find what does is a great life lesson.  Just don’t give up, try another method.  In the end, it isn’t just about what works but also about finding what doesn’t and how we move forward with it.


Now, what works for me may not necessarily work for you but, I will give you some benefit from what I have learned worked the best for us.  For elementary school level curriculum, we have a great website we loved. The pricing is great for what you are able to get from the site.  There are great educational games that can help track any problems and help to get past them.  If you choose to be a paid member, you can download entire workbooks at a time. They have great art and even science fair tips and ideas.  It was a site that we love, it has almost everything you can want in one place at a great price.

For middle school, I have found some great curriculum on amazon.  I have a series of books that I love and they come in different levels from Middle School to High School.  The first series is called “Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big  Fat Notebook”.  It comes in all the core subjects as well. I love the entire series. Helps me keep myself on my toes as to what we need to cover.  Also, there is a book, “100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know”.  It also comes in a high school version. They are handy when formulating spelling lists and come with little bits of extra knowledge.  Also, basic survival tips, first aid and even essential oils knowledge count toward health class.

Finally, my favorite math aid aside from M&M’s for math basics is a book, “Painless Pre-Algebra” by Amy Stahl.  It is a great guide to get past a sometimes confusing subject and is great for both middle and high school.

It is good to get your core skills for each grade level from your school system so you can use it as your main guide in what must be covered but, how you cover it is up to you.


High school?

High school is a loaded option for many homeschool families.  Some homeschool up to high school then transition into public school.  Others keep going or switch to a community college for their high school courses.  If your child is ready for the challenge, the community college is a great option for those that want to progress to a 4-year college.  Many community colleges even have special rates for high school ages kids taking classes.  Again, this choice comes down to what is a better fit for your family.

Online College

As for us, we did college classes at home from a wonderful website we found.  We get their catalog and use the discount code to stock up on the courses we like while they are 70% off.  We have gotten Oceanography, Photography, Mental Math, The Art of Storytelling, Hieroglyphics, and so many others.  Keep in mind, your child needs certain core subjects, how you teach those subjects is up to you.  World history doesn’t need to be boring! Math doesn’t need to be boring and there are so many ways to fulfill a high school English credit.  As for Art or languages, the options are huge!   Look through the courses, find what appeals to your kids.  Everyone learns better when the subject can pull them in and keep their attention.  Have fun with your curriculum.

Disclaimer: I am not paid to promote any of these sites or products, these are simply what we have chosen and are offering based on our experiences.


My Secret to Homeschool Curriculum

Where to Start?

This is the biggest question when parents choose to homeschool.  First, you register with your local Board of Education.  Different states have different requirements for reviews, curriculum, and method of informing the board of your decision to pull your child out of public school.  Your local Board of Education can let you know your state’s requirements.


Second, know your rights as a homeschool parent.  I love my reviewer with our local Board of Ed but, I also know first hand that some reviewers will try to demand more than you are required to do.  One of the best ways to skip all the double talk about the regulations is to join a local homeschool network.  When you are just starting out, this is a great way to get your feet wet.  The seasoned veteran homeschoolers can make you aware of some little-known tips that have worked well for them.  Plus, it’s a great way to socialize your kids with other homeschoolers.  You can decide if an umbrella group is right for you.  Umbrella groups can generally do the reviews for those in their network in place of the Board of Education. It wasn’t my choice but, it works for many others.


Third, breathe!  Relax, homeschooling is awesome!  You decide what works for you and your family.  Want to sleep in and work in your pj’s? Or are you an early riser and want to get dressed first?  It really doesn’t matter.  You are the deciding factor in how you want to teach.  I know you remember teachers from your school days, both good and bad.  Teach in a way that works for you and your kids.  Every kid is different.  Every child learns differently.  Some need hands-on lessons to really soak up a lesson.  That’s great, means more activities and field trips. Yes, field trips count!  Some need a book, they need to have hours pouring over books to learn.  Let them, get them as many books as your library will allow.

Elementary School Curriculum

Fourth, you do not need to spend a fortune.  Check out your local used bookstores.  One of my favorite with my kids when they are young is A fantastic site with printable worksheets, online educational games to track their skills, great ideas for science projects, crafts and all the core subjects.  The price is very reasonable to just sign up and pay a yearly rate for everything.  That includes printing out entire workbooks at a time as well as the online games. Another good source is Amazon.  I love my amazon prime.  We have found some great workbooks. Also, a great series called “The Complete Middle School Study Guide” for each subject.  I love the series, but, again the final choice is yours.

High School Curriculum?

Yes, there are high school options.  Some choose to homeschool in the early years and finish up at a local high school.  It is up to you.  There is no right or wrong.  I personally chose to keep homeschooling.  Once my oldest was ready, we opted to use some fantastic courses.  Now, this option can get pricey if you aren’t careful.  I watch for the big sales and order the classes when they are 75% or more off.  But, it offers both options, books and visual to learn.  We love  We have gotten some great courses in photography, oceanography, hieroglyphs, mental math, writing fiction and so much more.  These are college courses from around the United States.  Best of all, unlike college, once you pay for this course, you own it.  You can use it for however many of your kids you choose.  Or, resell it on eBay when you’re done.

What Box?

Most of all, you are homeschooling, you pick the curriculum.  Your state sets the requirements, but you decide how those requirements are filled.  Have fun with this.  Share the joy of learning on your terms.  Forget what the schools hours are, set yours as they work you your family.  You ARE the school.  You are the most elite of private schools that is so selective only your kids can get into it.  Remember that, be that teacher you always enjoyed because they made learning fun.  Think outside of the box, step outside the doors and look around you.  Life is filled with amazing and enjoyable lessons that you are blessed to share with them. Quick example, a trip to the grocery store is packed with experiences.  You have a budget, that is math. You can break down food into food groups, that is health.  Making lunch, that is a cooking class.

You Are Not Perfect

Do not underestimate yourself or your kids.  There is so much information out there on what works for someone else.  You can listen to it and stick a pin in it for later. Store all those pins but, in the end, how you choose to teach is up to you.  You are unique and one o a kind and s are your kids.  Give yourself a break and a chance to learn what works and doesn’t work for you.  You and your kids are in this together.  Believe it or not, they know you aren’t perfect.  They aren’t expecting you to be anyone other than who you are, let that come through in how you teach them.

K-cup crafts

Too Many K-Cups

With the Keurig and Farberware and other K-cup machines on the market, there are always k-cups around.  We happen to have a Keurig in the kitchen and a Farberware K-cup machine in the classroom where my kids can make themselves a hot chocolate on chilly mornings.  At one point I had collected 20 brown k-cups and 30 white ones.  It is amazing how fast they accumulate.

So Messy

Have you tried to clean out a K-cup?  Working with the coffee ones means a filter to carefully pull out with the grounds.  It is the same with the tea ones.  But, the hot chocolate ones are the easiest to clean as long as you pull off the foil seal the same day they are used and give it a quick rinse.  Be careful, the edges are sharp on those little cups.  Different brands come in different colors.  The brown is good for some crafts and the white for others. If possible, try to collect a dozen of each color.  That may seem like a lot but, once you start working with them, it really isn’t.  Word of warning, the projects can be addictive once you start.

Where To Start

I started with Pinterest.  They are chock full of ideas.  If you don’t have an account with them or don’t want to set one up, there are a ton of options on google. Personally, I have done both.  I am not good with directions.  I read them and do what I want anyway.  Basically, for me, I have a simple process.

  • First, search google images of K-cup crafts.
  • Second, go to my pinterest and search them.
  • Third, print out pics of all the ones I like.
  • Finally, I sit down with my kids and see which ones catch their eye. Then, we just eyeball them and they either work out or they don’t.

It’s Time

My favorite part!  Digging out the supplies.  Now, I keep one K-cup stencil that I use for when we are working on projects with foam covered cups.  I just cut up one side, then carefully cut around the rim of the bottom and remove it.  What I am left with is a nice piece that I can trace when needed.  It comes in very handy when you want to color the outside of a K-cup quickly.


I find it best to keep certain supplies on hand at all times.  Everything is easy to find.  Most, I am able to get at the local dollar store.

  1. Googly Eyes.
  2. Self-sticking foam sheets in an assortment of colors.
  3. Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
  4. Pipe Cleaners.
  5. Fine tip sharpie.
  6.  Scissors.
  7. Pom poms of assorted colors and sizes.

That’s it. For most projects, that is all you will need other than your creativity.  Now, let me point out, the trolls were so much fun.  For their hair, I had trouble finding faux fur in small quantities.  I ended up buying some small keychain poms.  The Dollar Tree had them,  the poms were multi-colored in vivid shades.  They were simple to cut open and once opened were 2 small rectangles of color.  It was perfect and each keychain was able t make 2 trolls.  Remember to be creative, have fun and just enjoy it.  Not all projects are as simple as the look.  Believe me, we have had some so bad, my teenager laughed at them as we tossed them.

Just Have Fun

The biggest thing I can say is that they are fun.  You can be creative, get silly and put your personal stamp on them.  The whole point is to be able to sit down, share some time with your kids and laugh.  Believe me, you mess up a few and there is plenty of laughter.



UGH! learning HTML

Never to old to learn something new

Trying to learn HTML to help with this blog and hopefully be able to understand it to help teach it to my kids.  I found a great blog that teaches it.  No, she isn’t paying me to post this.  I found her blog and I am hoping, it will help.

Lesson One

The key things I got from lesson one:

  • HTML is Hyper Text Markup Language and should be thought of as the main structure in a building. It is the primary building block, defines structure, and contains content.
  • CSS should be thought of as the paint and finishing products.  It is the design and formatting.
  • JAVASCRIPT is the electric, it adds the inactivity.
  • The HTML tags mark hierarchy of information.
  • Hyper text refers to hyperlinking links – link where you click and get redirected.

Now, keeping in mind this is my first lesson, forgive me if I mess it up.  I have zero knowledge heading into this.  Wish me luck, I have a feeling I might need some.


If I am understanding this right, Synax is the language of HTML.  The markers that help identify and contain everything.   Such as:

  • Plain paragraph <p>
  • Important heading <h1>
  • Head <head>
  • Body <body>

Maybe, if I am understanding this all right, I think I know how to add a meta value.  To verify my blog with the search sites, I need to be able to access and add a Meta code.  My steps:

First, word press to themes.

Second, themes to editor,

Third, editor to header.php.

Now, to add the meta value to my website header file. Once open, I need to add my meta code under <head> tag.

Let’s do this

Finally, click to update file.  I am so nervous.  I have spent days trying to make this update to get my blog out there for everyone to read.  Having watched my efforts fail for a week is what led me to learn HTML.  Being a stubborn personality means I do not let failure stop me. Most of all, I am single-minded until I can get it done.  So again I ask, please, wish me luck.








Review in the New Year

Review time again

Busy month ahead for homeschooling.  We get our review from the board of education twice a year. The first couple reviews were not so comfortable.  After we got settled in with a reviewer that we liked it made the process smoother and more comfortable.  We tried the homeschool network review option early on. It wasn’t really us.  The key to a good relationship with your reviewer is simple. Don’t settle, keep meeting different ones at each review until you get matched up to the one that you feel comfortable with.  We went through many a review feeling judged,  looked down upon, and my least favorite, walking away with them suggesting more work when we were already doing more than the public school system.  Our worst was in the beginning when you are already unsure if homeschooling is right for you.  I was told to add another language to the two we were already studying on top of a full academic caseload. That was when I had enough.  I changed reviewers and kept changing until we met Peggy. Luckily for us, she made all the difference at review time.   She made me feel confident we could do this.

Driving permit already?

New year, kicking off with new plans and my oldest getting ready to take her driving permit test…. Wow, does that make me feel old!?  I don’t know about you but, I am looking forward to a wonderful new year filled with some new firsts.  I can’t wait to see what new and wonderful photo ops I am going to capture. Finally,  the challenge of triple number division for my little one.

Ahead for me

For me, mastering more about my essential oils and the projects we can work on.  Last year we mastered fizzing bath bombs and some truly luxurious soaps.   Last years big essential oil experiments that we loved the most:

  • made hard candy made with cinnamon and peppermint
  •  learned to make our own gummy bears

You have got to love the freedom of homeschooling, Lots of hands-on and real-life experience to bring the learning lessons to life in fun ways.

Homeschooling rocks!