Blog Archive

12 Months of Family Service Projects

This school year, our family has set a goal to do one service project a month.  

Since we homeschool year round, this means 12 Months of Family Service Projects.  I am so excited about this new goal.  

Service is such a great way to stop thinking about one's self, circumstances, and challenges.  It's a great way to develop gratitude.  

When children participate in service projects they start to become more aware of the needs of those around them.  They learn more about loving others and the importance of kindness. 

12 Months of Service Projects for Families

For my special needs kiddos, it's a great way to help them get out of their own heads and spaces to socialize with others in positive ways. It's my hope that if I can teach them to serve others, they're more apt to be aware of the needs of others around them when they're older.  It will be just something we do, without effort.

Choosing service projects that would work for our family was quite a challenge. I enlisted the help of my fellow bloggers to come up with the perfect list.  Let me just say, it's fantastic!  We will be helping so many others this year in so many different ways.  

Some of the projects will require us to enlist the help of friends, neighbors, and extended family, which I'm thrilled about.  I'm hoping others will be excited to join us in our effort to really make a difference.

Here's what we're going to attempt!

12 Months of Family Service Projects

Neighborhood Food Drive

Neighborhood Food Drive

1.  Moms Fighting Hunger:  Host a Neighborhood Food Drive from Edventures with Kids

Our family will hand out flyers as we go for one of our afternoon walks.  

Then on the selected date, we'll collect nonperishable goods.  

I'm a little nervous about how many neighbors will participate, but I'm hoping our efforts will be successful.  We'll then deliver the food to a local food pantry.

Survival Kit for Police

Survival Kit for Police

2. Survival Kit for Police from Gifts You Can Make

Police officers are not always looked upon in the most loving ways.  

I thought it would be great for our family to show those who serve and protect us, just how grateful we are.  

This is such a simple and adorable idea.  

All of the items are candy, so what's not to like?

Kids Letters to Troops

Kids Letters to Troops

3.  Kids' Letters to Troops from Cutting Tiny Bites

In honor of Veteran's Day, I thought we'd write letters to soldiers.  

I'm a bit nervous about this activity just because I know how much the kiddos dislike writing. 

Hopefully they'll go along with it if presented well, especially if they can draw and color pictures.

Operation Christmas Cookies

Operation Christmas Cookies

4.  Operation Christmas Cookies

This is not a new service project for us.  It's one we do every year.  The kiddos LOVE spending a week baking and then delivering yummy treats to all the neighbors and select community helpers.

Birthday Boxes

Birthday Boxes

5.  Birthday Boxes from I Can Teach My Child

The idea of birthday boxes is so brilliant and kid friendly.  

I know my kiddos will LOVE putting the boxes together, personalizing each one.  

It's the perfect project for the start of a new year.  We may invite others to participate in this project with us.

A Simple Random Act of Kindness

A Simple Random Act of Kindness

6.  A Simple Random Act of Kindness:  Teaching Children to Think of Others from Moments A Day

We may not use the exact smiley face figures used in this post, but the idea will be the same.  

This project will work perfect around Valentine's Day, especially for those who are feeling a little unloved.

Dinner's on Us!

Dinner's on Us!

7.  Dinner's On Us-A #ShareAMeal Random Act of Kindness from B-Inspired Mama

My kiddos love meal planning, grocery shopping, and anything that has to do with desserts.  

Why not share their favorite things with others who need them?  

I'm not sure how many dinner baskets we'll make, but no matter how many, it will still be a ton of fun!

Pick Up Litter in the Neighborhood

Pick Up Litter in the Neighborhood

8.  30 Days of Kindness (Week 4 or 5):  Secret Agent Kindness:  Writing/Discussion Activities, Ideas, Scriptures and More! from Vibrant Homeschooling

Each day one of the kiddos has the chore of picking up litter in our front yard.  

I'm always amazed by how much litter is out there.  

In April, in honor of Earth Day, we'll expand beyond our front yard and see just how beautiful we can help our neighborhood become.

Random Act of Kindness Inspired by Miss Rumphius

Random Acts of Kindness Inspired By Miss Rumphius

9.  Random Acts of Kindness Inspired by Miss Rumphius from Play Teach Repeat

I LOVE the book Miss Rumphius!  When I saw this idea, I just knew we had to do it.  

Who doesn't like to be surprised by a flower gently placed somewhere they're sure to see?  

Though we won't see the smiles of those who find the flowers, I know that the service project will be successful.

Project Night Night

Project Night Night

10. Project Night Night

When I read about this service opportunity, I cried.  Tears would not stop streaming down my cheeks. 

As a family who did foster care and respite for 4 years, we know first hand what those first nights away from home are like for little ones in care.  The same is true of those in shelters.

This project is a BIG undertaking.  

We will most definitely be asking others to help, so that we can create as many bags as possible.  

Even though it may cost a little more than other service projects we've selected, I know the kiddos will have so much fun putting the bags together, picking out books, blankets, and stuffed animals.  

It's as kid friendly as it gets!
Project Happy Tails

Project Happy Tails

11. Service Learning Project Happy Tails from A Full Classroom

A year's worth of service projects wouldn't be complete without including service for animals.  

We always seem to have an abundance of stained clothes that are too small. 

Why not recycle them and turn them into the perfect toy for dogs in local shelters?  

I'm excited to teach the kiddos how to braid in the process.

Neighborhood Coke Stand

Neighborhood Coke Stand

12.  Give Back to the Neighbors with a Coke Stand in the Yard from Raising Lifelong Learners

This week has been EXTREMELY hot.  There have been so many times when an ice cold drink would be the perfect remedy.  

We probably won't be handing out Coca Cola, but cans of ice cold lemonade will be perfect!  This service project is so simple, yet such a great idea in the summer heat!

I can't wait to get started on all of our service plans for the year!  

It should be an amazing experience for our entire family that will be with us for years to come.  

Service is a subject that is so near and dear to my heart!  I would love to hear about other ways your family has served others around you!

For those looking for more service ideas, be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter by clicking on the link below.

If you liked this most, you may also enjoy the resources below.

A Year's Worth of Monthly Service Projects for Families Family Focused Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Simple, Kid-Friendly Random Acts of Christmas KindnessMontessori-inspired Friendship Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Family Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Relationships Printable Pack
12 Months of Service Projects for Families

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Our School Year Routines and Schedules

Jason and I have been discussing our school year routines and schedules for months.  

We choose to homeschool our children using a Montessori-inspired approach. 

We've enjoyed late nights and sleeping in with the kiddos this summer, but have found it IMPOSSIBLE to get anything done around here.  

Plus, we REALLY like our alone time without kiddos in the morning.  

It might be different if they'd go to bed on their own, but they won't.  

So, both of us (Jason and I) are elated to get back to our early morning routine!

Our School Year Routines and Schedules

Our School Year Routines and Schedules

There are some aspects of our routines and schedules that will remain the same, but others are changing. 

Here are a few new additions to our schedule!

Important Aspects of our Routines and Schedules

1.  Each kiddo is participating in two weekly extra curricular activities during the school year.  

Dinomite is continuing swimming lessons.  

His horseback riding lessons end October 1st.  

At that point he'll choose another activity.  

Bulldozer is continuing with gymnastics and taking tennis lessons.  

Princess is starting Kung Fu and will continue with gymnastics.  

Sunshine will also participate in gymnastics.  

When we feel she's ready to add a second extra curricular activity we'll do so.

2.  We've added nightly family centered evening activities to our schedule.  

Family Home Evening, will now be held on Sunday nights, due to Princess' gymnastics on Monday.

Tuesday will be our Family Bowling Night.  

A local bowling alley hosts a $2 Tuesday deal ($1 per game and $1 for shoes), which makes this quite affordable.  

Bulldozer really wanted to be sure to continue bowling.  

This option was cheaper than signing him up for a league.  

Wednesday nights will be our library night.  

The kiddos love checking out new books and movies.  

Thursday is our Family Game Night.  

I'm so excited the kiddos are finally getting into board games.  

Friday night is our Family Movie Night.  

It seems to be the best night to catch movies that are already playing on TV. If we don't see something we'll like, then we're sure to pick up a new movie at the library or movie rental store.  

If other plans come up on a Friday night, we just move our movie night to Saturday and it's no big deal.

3.  The kiddos have daily chores!  

We started this at the beginning of the summer and it's gone so well.  

First I gave each of them just one, then we progressed to two.  

I'm almost ready to add a third chore.  

The chores rotate weekly.  

The pairings go as follows:  bring down dirty laundry and fold napkins, sort recyclables into their bins and pick up yard, put DVDs away and sort clean laundry, and last, sort shoes into their bins and sort and match up socks.  

I wanted to be sure that even Sunshine could accomplish each task with minimal assistance.

As far as religious activities go, the kiddos gather in our room each morning and evening for family prayer.  

Scriptures are read during dinner, so the kiddos are more apt to pay attention.  

Family Home Evening is now on Sunday nights, which works out better, because Sunday tends to be my baking day.  The kiddos LOVE this.

The only time I use to work on learning time printables and blogging is first thing in the morning and during the kiddos' media time.  

I can not wait to get back to this schedule.  

It's amazing what one can accomplish in the quiet hours of the morning with no distractions.

As I've said in the past, our weekly schedule is always the goal.  

Sometimes we're behind. Sometimes we're ahead.  

It depends on so many factors.  

I don't own a watch.  

Checking the clock is something I do very rarely.  

When it comes to choosing work over 8 hours of sleep, 99% of the time I choose sleep!

Our School Year Routines and Schedules
(click HERE to view PDF version)

Homeschooling Routines and Schedules

Breaking down our daily routine, I thought I'd go into a little more detail about our learning time routines.  

At this point, the kiddos do an amazing job working independently.  

They may need some assistance, but have come so far compared to where they were when we started our homeschool journey.  

When the kiddos are finished with their morning chores, they immediately go into the learning time room and start an activity on the shelves or their morning work.  

They continue to do this until about 11:30 AM when we put our work away and gather together for instruction time, songs, and calendar.  

With so many activities on our shelves now, it's impossible to give instructions on all of them one day a week, like we'd been doing in the past.  

Instead we divide instructions into four parts:  core subjects, the arts, therapy activities, and tot school activities for Sunshine.  

Core subjects are introduced on Mondays and put on the shelves for Tuesdays.  

Art and music activities are presented on Tuesdays and placed on the shelves for Wednesdays.  

Therapy activities are presented on Wednesdays and placed on the shelves for work on Thursdays.  Sunshine's activities are presented on Thursdays for work on Fridays.

I decided to design our calendar around our monthly themes this year.  

Be sure to check back each month for a new printable!  

This month's FREE Universe Calendar Printable is available below.  

All months are included in the printable, so you can use the universe theme any time of year you'd like. 

After instruction, we say the Pledge of Allegiance, go over the date, talk about upcoming events, and recite a scripture or Article of Faith.  

From there we head to the table for prayer, lunch and read aloud time.

Homeschool Calendar and Routines

Source:  For your free copy of the Universe Calendar Printable, click HERE.  

I'm so excited about this year, especially with my husband home to help out.  

Things should run so much smoother.  

For more details about our family's routines and schedules, you can check out last year's post!  

I'm super excited to feature a few other posts about routines and schedules, for those who are looking for ideas.  

Every home and family in these features is very different.  

You're missing out if you don't visit them all. 

Family Routines and Schedules

A Week in the Life of Unschoolers from Unschooling Blog

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the resources below.
A Minimalist Montessori Homeschool Classroom TourMontessori Planner for Teachers and Parents The Best Tips for Montessori Homeschooling How Our Family Came to the Decision to Homeschool Transitioning Your Toddler Into Your Homeschool Environment Montessori Is Much More than Shelves and Materials
Our School Year Routines and Schedules

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A Tour of our Montessori Homeschool Classroom

I have waited three years to give our Montessori classroom a makeover. 

Originally, the room was my music studio.  

It was painted a deep red to invoke emotion and passion while playing the piano, singing, and teaching. 

I accented with black, beige, and just a hint of brown.  

It was the perfect music studio.  Then...

We tried having our classroom in one area of the living room.  

It worked well, until we decided to go the Montessori route.  

Then, it didn't work at all.

Eventually, I decided to surrender my music studio for our learning time room.

A Tour of our Montessori Homeschool Classroom

I knew that in order to create a successful learning environment I would need to change the colors of the walls and involve the three older kiddos in every aspect of the planning, preparation, and action. 

This would ensure a positive transition experience and an environment that would be pleasing to everyone's senses.

A Color Scheme for a Montessori Homeschool Classroom

I presented the kiddos with three color scheme choices, using Pottery Barn magazines.  (I LOVE Pottery Barn!)

Choice 1:  Gray or cream walls with red, orange and black accents.  

Choice 2:  Cream or light yellow walls with navy blue, white & yellow accents.

Choice 3:  Light teal walls with accents of white, navy blue and a darker teal.

After much debate and discussion of wall colors the kiddos decided they liked Choice #3 the best.

Painting Lessons for Kids

I wanted to make sure that all of the kiddos could help paint.  

Our local paint store had Mini Rollers which were the perfect size for little hands.  

This was the ultimate practical life activity!

The kiddos were given a lesson in painting, and then a wall to paint.  

They started in the closet, which had never been painted in the 8 years we've lived in this home.  

My husband and I supervised.  

In the end, the kiddos painted the entire closet and one wall of the actual room.  

I know they'll be helping us paint many more rooms in the future.
Painting Lessons for Kids

A Tour of our Montessori Homeschool Classroom

Once the room was painted it was time to move in furniture and materials!!!  

Everyone was so excited for this part.  The room turned out beautifully.

Our New Montessori Homeschool Classroom

It includes everything we need to be successful while learning each day!

Our Montessori Shelves

Our Montessori Shelves

In our classroom, we have only 3 sets of bookshelves, due to space limitations.  

Each shelf is used for a different subject.  

Activities on the shelves are changed out weekly or every two weeks.  

This occurs because of space limitations, but also as a result of the kiddos' rigid ritualistic and stemming behaviors.

On the top of our bookshelves I make available the sandpaper letter cards for the letters we're working on during the week, a globe for exploration when studying geography and culture, a plant, and workbook materials.

Workbooks are not a part of the Montessori curriculum. However, I keep them in the classroom for two reasons:

  • My children will need to fill out endless amounts of paperwork during their lifetime. Learning how to follow directions on a page, answer questions, etc. is a Practical Life activity in my mind.
  • There are some days when they prefer workbook tasks over activities on our shelves.  If they want to complete a few pages of their choice, why not!

The Reading Corner

Our Reading Corner

Our reading corner is simple, just a bookshelf and bean bag, but it works perfectly in our small space.  

Since we don't have room for our own personal library, I borrow 12-18 books from our local library each week that relate to our theme.  

The kiddos look forward to the new books.  

I love the variety our local library provides.

Our Peace Corner

If the kiddos aren't reading during their break, I can usually find one in our peace corner.  

This was a priority in our new classroom.  

They designed it themselves.

Our Peace Corner

Our peace corner is very specific to the needs of our special needs kiddos.  

They needed a private space to regulate, calm themselves, and take a break when frustrated, upset, or overstimulated.

To ensure the space would work, the kiddos selected the mat, pillows, and blankets used in our peace corner.  

They also selected a bin to house their anxiety kit and fidget toys, to use when needed.  

I can not tell you how much this peace corner has helped the kiddos.  

Every classroom should have one!

Finishing Touches on Montessori Classroom

Finishing Touches on Montessori Homeschool Classroom

Piano Books

Adding finishing touches to our classroom, has made all the difference in how it functions.  

The kiddos are taking piano lessons this year.  

Their music books and practice sheets are stored in an adorable wire rack next to the window.

Bulletin Boards


Our new calendar was created using a simple bulletin board.  

I wanted to make sure I could change it each month according to our theme. 

This month we're studying the universe.  

I created number cards with planets on them, and then included a calendar of the moon's cycle this month to follow.  

We're also working on memorizing scriptures and Articles of Faith, so I've included that.

Prayer Wall

The other bulletin board in our classroom is used as our prayer wall.  

For more information about the prayer wall idea, be sure to visit The Chaos and the Clutter, the first place I read about it.

I LOVE our prayer wall.  

Not only is it helping our kiddos when saying prayers, but it's a very unique display of what matters most to them.  

They love their family, both immediate and extended.  

Prayers are said daily on behalf of family members.  

We have friends who are experiencing medical challenges right now.  

The kiddos really do care and pray for them every day.

Curtains and Montessori Mats

Our final touch was our Montessori mats and curtains!  

Each kiddo picked out their own mat and cast a vote for curtains.  

They've used them constantly.  

One might not think they're important, but I assure you, they are.

Our Montessori Homeschool Classroom in Session

This picture was taken our first week in the "new" learning time room, before a couple finishing touches had been added.  

I LOVE this picture because it shows just how well the room works and meets the needs of the kiddos.  

We couldn't be happier!  

It's amazing how much the environment influences the learning process.

Update: Since this post was written, we have added a fish tank to our classroom.  You can read about all of adventures below:



For more fabulous Montessori space ideas, be sure to check out all of the other posts in the 12 Months of Montessori Learning Series this month!
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