Winter Homeschool Update

It’s been awhile since I did a homeschool-related post, so I thought I’d share a winter homeschool update (now that it’s almost spring)!

We started school in early August, so we’re around seven months into our current homeschool year. With only a few months of this school year left I thought I’d share how this year has gone so far.

This was the first year in some time that we only had four children in our homeschool. Since my oldest graduated last spring, this year seemed different than many of the previous years.

This year we have 11th, 8th, 6th and 2nd grades (you can see our curriculum choices for this year here).

winter homeschool update

Winter Homeschool Update

Keeping everyone’s morale up during winter days can be a challenge. Along with our schoolwork, we made sure to enjoy lots of outside time in the snow, and many cups of hot cocoa.

I had some of this peppermint hot cocoa mix stashed away in Mason jars, just waiting for winter days. It was such a special treat after an afternoon of playing in the woods on the frozen creek.

winter homeschool update

winter homeschool update

Our winter nature study has mostly consisted of just studying things as we come across them. My children always excitedly show me any nests they find, as they know how much I love them!

Picture Books

We read lots of winter and snow-themed books (check out our list of favorite winter picture books here). I’m kind of addicted to picture books, despite the fact that I have a houseful of teenagers!

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winter homeschool update

We’ve collected quite a few winter picture books through the years!

winter homeschool update

I think if I had to pick my absolute favorites they would be:

winter homeschool update

In the Kitchen Together

We all naturally seem to gravitate toward the kitchen on cold winter nights. I love it when everyone is in the kitchen cooking together. Homemade pizza seems to be everyone’s favorite thing to make.

winter homeschool update

We also made lots and lots of popcorn. Popcorn balls, caramel popcorn, popcorn with cheese powder, and just plain buttered popcorn.

winter homeschool update

Playing Outside

Whenever the weather would allow, we went outside. Or at least I made sure the kids went outside pretty much every day. Sometimes I would go out to play with them.

We were so thankful for these two new outside “toys” that I got for free with Zulily credits (they were group Christmas gifts).

The first item is this rope ladder.  We attached it to a tree in our backyard, and everyone loves to climb it and swing on it.

winter homeschool update

The second group toy was this platform swing, which is so great because more than one child can swing on it at the same time!

The description says it “supports kids and adults swinging, standing, or sitting, and holds up to 250 pounds.”

winter homeschool update

We’ve had a lot of fun with it, and you can even recline on it! I think it would be a great place to swing and read a good book this summer.


When I made our homeschool plans for this school year, I had high hopes, as I always do, that everything will be a “win.”

This year, we have absolutely loved the history. Well, I think the younger ones have enjoyed it more than my older daughter. While she has learned a lot with the Notgrass History books she’s using, she hasn’t exactly used the word “love” to describe her history books.

As an 11th grader, she’s had quite a bit of rigorous work to do this year, and she found it difficult to find time to fit everything in.

But for those of us using Beautiful Feet Books history guides, I’d say this year has been great. I’ve especially enjoyed the Early American History books my youngest and I have read together.

winter homeschool update

He seemed to love the D’Aulaires’ books most of all. All of them, but especially Leif the Lucky, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington seemed to really capture his interest.

winter homeschool update

He’s growing so much, and he’s my youngest, so I cherish the time I get to spend with him, reading aloud, learning together, and making memories.

winter homeschool update

Our science choices have been a success as well, except we are needing to catch up on doing some of the hands-on projects and experiments. I often find it hard to fit those in.

We have also loved Right Start Math for my youngest. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say math was fun, but we’ve actually had fun this year and learned a lot.

Grammar and spelling have worked well, but Latin and Writing have gone by the wayside. I’m actually thinking about doing those this summer. It seems everyone gets bored without something structured to do in the summer anyway, so it makes sense to just continue on with the learning activities.

winter homeschool update

All in all, it’s been a good year. I’m already making plans for next year! If you homeschool, how are things going for your family?


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  1. Hi, Joy. I recently found your blog through YouTube, and it is lovely. 🙂

    I have been homeschooling my 3 kiddos (11, 10, and 6) for the past 7 years, doing some eclectic and some “boxed” curriculum. We had been using Heart of Dakota for three years, and this past year we have done more “family style” learning for history, Bible, science, and morning-basket things.

    I am finding myself at a crossroads, and wondering if you would answer a couple of questions?!?

    Have you always separated your children and done individual learning? When we used Heart of Dakota (HOD), all of my kiddos are placed “on level” and do everything individually. I see the benefit of this because my kiddos are definitely on separate learning levels and allowing them to learn as they do best is good for them. Yet, my kiddos have similar interests, and they enjoy learning together.

    Teaching them together is also easier on me. However, I know that my purpose in homeschooling is to give my kiddos the best education possible. So, I don’t want to choose easy over what’s best.

    Anyway, if you wouldn’t mind giving me your input I’d really appreciate it. I’m trying to decide best how to move forward, but need to determine whether individual learning or family learning is best. Ahhh! So many challenges!
    Thanks so much for your time. 🙂

    1. Hi Amber! So glad to meet you. And thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂

      I can totally understand where you’re coming from. We’ve done a combination of so many different things throughout our years of homeschooling. It seems like every year it looks a bit different, depending on many different factors (ages, subjects studied, interests, etc.).

      We also used HOD several years ago, and I separated everyone into different levels. Then we switched to Simply Charlotte Mason, and I taught all 5 of my children together (you can see how that worked here) We did that for a couple of years (here was our 2nd year with SCM), and I loved it.

      However, when my oldest reached her upper years of high school (with more difficult subjects that required more focus), she said it was too distracting to all be in the same room and trying to learn things together. So, I started teaching the younger three together while my older two did their high school work independently.

      This year the older three did most of their work independently. My oldest has graduated, so I mostly just worked with my youngest. It’s kind of sad! I miss having everyone all together. I have so many happy memories of us all gathered at the table together.

      So, we’ve done a variety of things through the years, but I love the years where we all learned together the most. Since everyone is growing up so fast, I don’t want to miss this time! My plan for the coming school year is to have Morning Time with everyone, then go into a learning time with the three youngest together while my senior works independently (since her school work requires more attention and focus). There will be some subjects that they’ll do independently (like math, science, and grammar), but we’ll be on the same page for history and geography (with some independent reading for the older ones that will be on their level).

      I think it’s perfectly fine (especially with the ages of your kids) to continue teaching them together. And if they share similar interests and enjoy being together, I’d definitely keep it that way. As they enter the high school years, they may desire or need to work more independently, so I’d enjoy these years of learning all together as long as you can. They grow up so fast, and you’ll be so thankful for happy memories of learning together!

      1. Joy,
        Thank you for taking the time to respond. Your outlook was so positive. And, you’re right — the times we spend learning together are so good and deep. Those memories will stay with us longer than any fact we will learn!

        I’m still struggling with my oldest. She is 11, but she easily reads and writes at a 9th grade level. She likes HOD bc of the beautiful notebook pages and all of the assignments. (She’s a bit of an oddity in that she *loves* schoolwork!) My biggest challenge is keeping her content in her workload bc she wants to “do something” with what we learn. In all our 100% Charlotte Mason attempts, she says she’s not happy bc we don’t “do enough.” // I haven’t figured out a good balance for us to continue to learn family-style.

        1. You’re welcome, Amber! Regarding your oldest, one thought I had is that you could have a “morning time” where you do some learning all together (here’s how we do that), and then you could have each child do more independent learning on their own level (like with HOD). Just a thought.

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