Saturday Lists

My husband, Rick

My husband, Rick

All week long, little mishaps such as a broken pan handle or a burned-out light bulb can cause some frustration that dampens our joy a bit. They are little things, but they can be very annoying and inconvenient. I know I’m not the only mom who has lived with a broken drawer handle for months (or years) just because there is never time to fix it. And when it is finally fixed in 5 minutes, I find myself moaning, “Is that all it took?”, as I had fumbled with it constantly while doing my homemaking.

We found a solution that works at our house. Every time some little irritating household repair or need comes up, I jot it onto our Saturday List. This is just a piece of paper stuck on the front of the fridge. Just writing it on there gives me relief. I rest my mind, knowing it will be taken care of and I don’t have to feel frustrated with it. It will have its day!

Then, Saturday morning at breakfast, we assign names to the tasks. If the list is long, we star the top priorities, choose a reasonable amount and save the rest for next Saturday. Don’t burn out by working all day. Just a couple of morning hours is enough to get a lot done!



We ask the kids what jobs they want, and it is amazing how they will volunteer with eagerness. Perhaps it is to avoid being assigned something they like less, but I am happy for volunteers nevertheless! I jot their initial along with a parent’s name (if needed). After breakfast, it is time for family work time.

Dad and Mom do most of the work when kids are young, obviously, but the jobs do double duty. They not only get the chore done, but they give some precious one-on-one time, training at a parent’s side.


My son, Ammon

Dad and Ammon fixed the bathroom sink plug together this past Saturday, and Ammon learned something about how to be a man, as well as how to fix the sink. He finished the job feeling more capable, having spent some quality time with his Dad. Louisa and I baked the week’s whole wheat bread supply that afternoon. She did most of the measuring and mixing and will soon be baking it herself, I am sure. As kids grow, the parent becomes more of an overseer, watching as the child learns by doing it under his experienced eye.

Don’t get annoyed by the constant supply of irritating broken things. They are a unique educational opportunity, if we just see them for what they are!


May I recommend:

Kids to the Rescue!

Kids’ Gardening

Home Economics Course

Would you like to share this?

Knowing Your Way Around Time

the-yearIt is a tricky for little children to understand the idea that the year rotates around, and starts again with a new numbered year. My “year chart” can help. Print it off and post it on your schoolroom wall, and go over it often with your 4-8 year olds. Asking them questions and talking about the months of the year will help them practice and gain understanding of the passage of time. Put the birthdays of each family member in your year, too, as that is a big event for young ones. And any recurring annual events.

I teach that the year begins at the top of the chart with the division line between December and January. Then it advances one year forward in number (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 . . . ) every time we pass that mark again, like a spiraling circle. A slinky toy or other coil or spring makes a good hands-on object lesson to help them see how each circle (year) connects to the next.

I also point out that the seasons divide the circle evenly. December, January, February are the 3 months that make winter; March, April and May are the spring months; June, July, August are summertime months and September, October and November make up the autumn season.

Here are some of the kinds of questions that I ask:
*What month is your birthday in? Point to it.
*When do we go swimming? (summer)
*What month do the leaves begin to turn red? (September)
*How many months are there in spring? Name them (March, April, May)
*In what month do we send valentines? (February)
*How many months are there in the year? Count them. (12)
*What month are we in now? (November)
image*How many more months until Christmas? (one)

Singing the “Months of the Year” song (found in Musical Notebooks)  as you point to each month’s name and picture helps a lot. This is basically the names of the months put to music.

A great trick for older children who have mastered the names of the months is to hold their fists side-by-side and say the names of the months as they touch the knuckle bones, or the “valleys” between the knuckles. The “knuckle months” have 31 days. As an adult, I still use this trick to figure out how many days in a month.

Thirty days hath September,

April, June, and November;

Thirty-one the others date,

Except in February, twenty-eight;

But in leap year we assign

February, twenty-nine.


Children can catch on quickly with this visual explanation of the year. It makes a child feel capable and smart to know where he is in time!


May I recommend:

Kids’ Gardening

Imagination Magnets

Fabric Calendar Pocket Chart

Would you like to share this?

Kids’ Gardening

Planting a seed, watering and weeding, watching it grow, and finally eating the fruit of your labor is a fabulous lesson! Help your kids get enthused to plant a garden with these fun ideas!


Instant Radishes

radishes-630868_1280Nothing spurs interest like success! Radishes grow so quickly—just 20 days until harvest—that kids can almost watch them growing. Even if radishes aren’t a favorite, it is worth the price of a seed packet to see such excited kids contributing to the dinner salad. Water them plenty and they won’t be hot.



My Growing Signature

Write your name gently with a nail on the side of a baby zucchini while it is still on the vine. Let it grow and your name will expand too!


Tiny Pumpkin Patch

Everybody wants miniature pumpkins to decorate with during October and November. They are easy and fun to grow and give lots of growth to enjoy! If you are short on space, plant them along a chain link fence and let them grow up. They make for a great kids’ business, selling them in the fall.

Grow a Playhouse

Every kid loves a hide-out! Grow yourself a a bean tepee: especially fun! Draw a circle in the dirt the size that you want for a tepee floor. Gather long poles, dowels, sticks, PVC pipes, 1×1″ lumber, bamboo poles, trimmed tree branches or any other supporting poles you can find. You’ll need six poles minimum. Use 6 foot poles if you want a one child secret space, and up to 10 foot poles for a bigger play space in your hideout.

homeschoolharvest-1Dig a little hole for the bottom of each pole along the circle on the ground. Leave a 2 foot opening for a entrance. Pull the poles together at the top and tie firmly with a rope or scrap of cloth, lashing in and out of the poles for extra strength. If you have fewer poles, you may way to tie a piece of twine (yarn, cloth, string, etc.) around the outside bottom of the poles, near the ground, encircling each pole with the twine, and leaving the entrance open. This bottom ring will create a bottom support for additional strings to be tied from top to bottom of the tepee between the poles providing more for the beans to grasp onto as they climb. Now, plant bean seeds all along the circle, every 2″. Plant scarlet runner beans in with your Blue Lake Pole Beans to give your tepee some colorful blossoms. You can even plant cucumber seeds or miniature pumpkin seeds to climb on the outside of your tepee. As the beans grow, you’ll have a shady retreat for Indian adventures that comes complete with an easy-to-pluck-and-eat healthy snack!


May I recommend:

Square Foot Gardening

Kids’ Garden Gloves

Kids’ Garden Tools Set

Would you like to share this?

Bean Teepee

Midsummer: Growing, growing!

Midsummer: Growing, growing!

I thought you might enjoy seeing how our bean tepee turned out! I think I got overly excited on this project, because every few days I would go out to check if the seedlings had come up yet, and not seeing much, I would plant many more seeds. I did that several times, and then everything sprouted up and overwhelmed us! How fun!

One of the ways (shall I say the “happy way”) I get my kids to weed the garden is I take them swimming first. I know that sounds backwards, as it would be more reasonable to get the work done and then enjoy the reward. But it is pretty hot here in Utah, and by the time we get out to the garden in the morning, it is tough to work in the heat. But, after a nice long swim, everyone is wet, cool, and in a good mood, so it is easy to slip out into the garden in our swimsuits and weed and harvest in time to prepare it all for a fresh and healthy lunch.

I intended to plant just green pole beans, but as I said, I got overly excited and ended up putting in some yellow squash seeds, morning glory flowers, and Armenian cucumbers (that grow very adventurously long and luscious!) and whatever else I could find along with the pole beans. So, our tepee is sprawling everywhere, including up, and Louisa goes inside the tepee in the shade, and sits and harvest a big pile of green beans just reaching around her to the tepee vines.

Isn’t summer fun?!


It’s a jungle out here! Whoa! Who planted all these things?


May I recommend:

School in Summer?

Summer Journals

The Art of Gardening DVD

Would you like to share this?

Instant Garden

It’s springtime, and to little ones planting a garden, it may seem those seeds take forever to come up! My kids occasionally poked their finger impatiently into the soil to fish out a pea seed just to make sure it was actually sprouting! We always plant radishes so they get a quick reward for their labor, but it still takes a couple of weeks.

Here’s an instant garden that kids enjoy growing! They can actually see the seeds sprouting, and it only takes a few days until you can eat them on sandwiches instead of lettuce.

Here’s what you need:

*quart jar

*clean nylon stocking

*alfalfa seeds or wheat kernels

Here’s how to grow an “Instant Garden”:

Wash out the jar. You can use a plastic mayonnaise jar or a glass canning quart bottle. Put 1/4 cup of alfalfa seeds or 1 cup wheat kernels into the jar and fill the jar halfway full of tap water. Measure about 4″ down from the toe of a nylon stocking and cut it off. Pull the nylon stocking snugly over the jar opening, securing with a rubber and or a canning lid ring. Let this set on the counter over night.

In the morning, turn the jar upside down and let the water drain out. Fill the jar again with tap water (through the nylon stocking), swirl around to rinse, and then turn the jar upside down to drain. You can rest the jar tilting in your dish drain or in a pan on your counter to make sure all the water drains out.

Morning and evening, rinse and drain your sprout garden again. Or you can do it at every mealtime, if it is easier to remember. Don’t let the jar lay on its side, or water will pool in the jar and mold your seeds. You want to give them a drink and then let them drain completely between rinsing.

Alfalfa sprouts are the most miraculous, as they are so very tiny and they sprout long and turn green and edible in a short time. Kids like the taste and they are fun to put on sandwiches. Store them in the fridge after they have reached 2″ in length to stop growth.

Wheat kernels sprout quickly (2 days) and are sweet and chewy. Eat them before they turn green. As soon as a little white spout is 1/4″-1/2″ long, they are ready. They are a great tuna fish extender.

Yummy and nutritious!

May I recommend:

Bean Teepee

My Cantaloupe Man


Would you like to share this?

Please subscribe and I will email you a copy of my ebook: The Only School Chart that Survived 25 Years of Homeschooling!

  • Facebook
  • Google+">
  • Twitter
  • YouTube