Unschool Vision Board

I recently made vision boards (view them here) and one of them is for unschooling. I think it is important to have a visual reminder of why we chose to unschool our son, verses more traditional homeschool methods.

Sometimes the pressures of society and those that don’t know the vast benefits of unschooling can allow doubt and worry to creep in, especially with my teaching background. Having a list of traditional schooling and unschooling differences and a quote from “Free to Learn” by Peter Gray can help clarify  our decision with just a quick glance.

“Children (rid of us) are biologically designed to educate themselves through play and exploration! We don’t need to educate them; we need to provide the conditions to allow them to educate themselves!”

Unschool Vision Board

Having things to remind us to live in the present and be mindful of our child’s interests and needs is so important. Sometimes we can let the stresses of life take us out of the moment, causing our child to be ignored or rushed and not have their curiosity fostered as well as it could be.

Drinking Orange JuiceWhat do I mean by fostering their curiosity? Well, answering questions through speech, a book, a dvd, or better yet, giving a hands-on opportunity for them to answer the question for themselves.  For example, my son LOVES orange juice. He thought it just came from a bottle (he is only 3), so I took an orange and helped him stick a glass straw through it and he was able to both touch and taste the orange juice right from the source; making the connection of where orange juice comes from. He loved it and now asks for his orange juice like that. When he is done drinking the juice he eats the orange.

Being present for unschooling isn’t just answering questions the child already has, it can be inspiring them. We have a large range of books and manipulative of varying age levels that we play with all the time. We also do a lot of vocal counting, reading, spelling, letter sounds, and color recognition, plus allow multiple opportunities for him to see us write in cursive (yes, he is learning cursive first and his favorite kindle game is teaching him to write in cursive). We try to make this a habit for daily learning opportunities. He seems to enjoy it, since he repeats what we say and is already counting and adding to 4, recognizes the letter A and number 2, knows all of his basic colors, knows what words are for, and can recognize a few sight words in both print and cursive. This is why our vision board includes an “ABC and 123” picture and “ASL” picture, as a reminder to demonstrate knowledge throughout the day.

An added bonus of having a homeschool vision board is as motivation for older children. (Thank you, Tashara for pointing that out!) They can see why homeschooling is important and focus on concepts they want to learn. To enhance this, it would be great for the family to plan and make their vision board together.

Do you have a visual reminder for your homeschool/unschool goals? What would you place on your vision board?

Setting Goals: 2018 Vision Boards

As 2017 came to an end I looked back on everything my family has gone through, the ups, downs, and in-betweens. We have learned so much and are better because of it. Using those experiences hubby and I were able to come up with our 2018 goals.

It has been a long time since I made a vision board and something I have been wanting to do for awhile now. The last time I had one everything on it came to fruition and it helped me feel grateful for everyday things. If you want more information on vision boards and manifesting goals, please read “The Secret,” found here, or watch the movie, found here.

To make our vision boards we first sat down and listed goals for multiple categories: finances, health, education, fitness, hobbies, and family, and chose a word for the year, “Present.”

  • Family Goals: occupy the present, minimalistic living, declutter, tranquility, better use of home space, exploration through books and the world, being who you want to be, and acceptance.
  • Financial Goals: cut credit card debt and stop using credit cards, make our businesses grow, add beeswax candles and crochet items to our business, work towards owning our farm, get family property put in our name, fix our family property and fix up hubby’s mom’s house, etc.
  • Fitness Goals: Complete “Insanity” dvds as a couple, do yoga every day, exercise in some form daily, learn to do the crow pose, and incorporate barefoot walking.
  • Health Goals: Create an herbal vitamin and remedy pantry, pray and meditate daily, be gluten-free, be sugar-free, live in the present moment, and choose health for your body, mind, and soul.
  • Hobby Goals (Mine): Learn to play the violin/fiddle, learn to crochet more than a simple blanket, write a book, and write more blog articles.
  • Unschool Goals: Remember why we chose unschooling for our homeschool, practice ASL on a regular basis, provide multiple opportunities to learn the alphabet and numbers a day, be present to help facilitate learning opportunities with anything Archer is interested in.

Using that list I was able to download images or type words to represent them. I simply made an individual slideshow using PowerPoint, found here, to make each vision board category.

Once my husband and I had both approved the final look of each board I printed them using my mini HP Desk Jet, found here, and laminated them with my Swingline, found here.

Since each category is on its own laminated paper, we are able to hang them in appropriate locations around our home. For example, the health board will be on our fridge, and the family board will be next to our couch.

This was such a simple and inexpensive way of making our vision boards compared to how I made my last one. My last vision board was on a massive framed cork board. I bought the cork board, magazines, ribbon, and pushpins, then spent time finding all of the images I needed and cutting them out of the magazines. It was kept in my bedroom, next to my door, so I could see it every day (which helped), but it would have been handy to have the different categories available in different areas or to have it be portable. With these laminated vision boards I can easily take them  with me.

To place them on my fridge I cut a piece of magnetic tape, found here, and placed it on each corner. For normal walls, I either used velcro, found here, or command strips, found here.

What will be are your 2018 goals and how will you represent them on your vision board?

Family Moto Vision Board

Family Moto Vision Board

Financial  Vision Board 

Financial Board

Fitness Vision Board

Fitness Board

Health Vision Board

Health Vision Board

Hobby Vision Board

Hobby Vision Board

Unschool Vision Board

Unschool Vision Board


DIY Train Costume

It’s time to prepare for Halloween and start making your DIY costumes.

Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays. No, it has never been about the candy, I only ate a few pieces. I loved it for the sheer joy of dressing up as someone or something else. I always loved playing make-believe and this was the perfect excuse. Making a costume always made the experience better, even when it was simple things like wearing a bathrobe and slippers, curlers in my hair, my mom’s giant glasses, a dried on facial mask, and carrying a coffee mug to be “a woman who just woke up.” The creativity involved always added to the excitement of the holiday. Plus, there was something empowering knowing that my costume was one of a kind. I would always feel special wearing my homemade costume, while most of the other kids were sporting something from the store, typically matching a handful of our peers.

I wanted to continue this with my family and  keep costumes as zero-waste as possible. Let’s be honest, costumes don’t tend to last long, the store-bought ones are too expensive or they don’t have what you need, or your child, like mine, will be having a bad day when it comes time for them to wear the costume in public (he loved playing with it at home).

This DIY train costume was worn by a very grumpy 1 1/2 year old, for less than 5 minutes out in public. Despite crying halfway through his turn and trying to throw himself on the ground as we walked through the costume contest, he still won the award for “Most Original Costume.”

This DIY train costume is very simple to make and we used items we already had at home, but it did take a week to complete due to the time required to let the paint dry and having to work on it during my son’s nap.



First, I found a rectangular cardboard box that he could fit in without it being too large. I then cut off all 8 flaps, keeping them for further use.

I then gathered my remaining supplies: The cardboard flaps, 6 Noosa yogurt lids, 1 Noosa yogurt container, an empty oatmeal box, a Pringles can, a toilet paper roll, clear packing tape (next time I work with a box, I will use Kraft Tape), cotton balls, a hot glue gun (I love this mini hot glue gun, found here), scissors, dark red paint, gold paint, white paint, black paint, a yellow highlighter, small paint brushes, black felt (found here), a piece of white paper, a pencil, and washi tape (found here).

Since, my box had seen better days, I gave it a little more stability by taping the edges, on the outside and the inside. This helped my box not fold flat while I was working on it.

Using one of the small flaps, I cut out a rectangle which would fit on the small face of the box, leaving room around the edges. This piece was used to make the sign. I then took my Noosa container and used it to trace a half circle on the bottom center of the cardboard rectangle and cut that section out, creating an arc shape.  (See figure 2 on the image above.)

Using  the arc shaped cardboard, I traced the shape on a piece of paper and cut it out. After painting the cardboard sign gold, I then drew the train name, “Orion Express,” on the cutout paper. Flipping the paper over, I used a pencil and heavily traced the name. Using washi tape, I was then able to tape the paper with the pencil drawing against the dried red cardboard sign. This kept the paper from moving around while I rubbed on it, allowing the pencil drawing to be left behind on the red paint. (The washi tape comes off easily, with no sticky residue, and doesn’t harm dried paint.) I was able to complete the sign by painting over the pencil markings.

To make the light, I colored the center circle of the bottom of the Noosa container with a yellow highlighter. I then painted the bottom outer ring and the sides of the container with gold.

Glue your sign and light to the front of your train.

(You can either paint the large cardboard box before or after glueing everything on it.)

Glue 3 of the Noosa lids to the bottom of each side of the train’s body. Make sure you have the label glued to the box, so it isn’t showing. (I only glue a little in the center of the lid, so I could gently lift the edges out of the way while painting the train body.)

Take one of your small cardboard flaps that you saved. From the bottom corners of the long side, draw two lines towards the top center side, creating a triangle. Cut the triangle out, you should be left with 1 large triangle and 2 small triangles. Use the large triangle to create the same size triangle out of another small flap. You should now have 2 large triangles and 4 small triangles. Glue the 4 small triangles between the 2 large triangles, with the bottom side of every triangle lined up together. Then take your tape to make a smooth surface for all sides, so you can’t see the 4 small triangles when looking from the front point. Paint the entire thing black. This will be your pilot and it will be glued at the bottom of the front of the train body. Make sure you glue it with the side all 6 triangles are lined up on against the box.

Take the oatmeal box, you want one of the large faces standing horizontally, so it can attach to the inside (or backside if there isn’t enough room for the box and your child) back face of the train body. cut a circle the size of the Pringles can on the new top side. Insert the Pringles can, with no lid, and glue them together.

Paint the Pringles can, front, bottom, sides, and top half of the back of the oatmeal box black. After it has dried, glue the bottom half of the oatmeal box to the back of the train body. Half of the box will be sticking above the train. You now have a smokebox and smokestack.

Take the toilet paper roll and glue cotton balls all over it. Even glue cotton balls on top of the cotton balls at the top, to cover the entire cylinder. You can even gently tug the cotton to get it to shape the way you want. I tugged to make it look like it was floating backwards due to the train moving forward. Then, glue your smoke inside the Pringles can smoke stack.

Now you can paint the train body red and add any details. (I painted gold rivets along each vertex and white identification numbers on the sides.) You can use washi tape to help keep glued on items clean, or quickly wipe paint away.

After everything has dried, take your black felt, found here, and cut rectangular straps (I just cut it in half). Glue them to the inside-front and the inside-back of the train body. (Make sure you first test them with your child to see what height and width they need them to wear the train costume comfortably.

DIY Train Costume Instructions:

Train body 1: Cut off all 8 flaps on your box.

Sign 1: Cut a small rectangle out of one of the flaps for a sign.

Sign 2: Using the Noosa container, cut an arc out of the bottom of the sign.

Sign 3: Use paper and a pencil to create the letter rubbing for the sign.

Sign 4: Rub the letters onto the gold painted sign, then paint over the letters with white.

Sign 5: Glue the sign onto the front face of the box/train body.

Light 1: Color the bottom inside circle of the Noosa container with a yellow highlighter and the bottom outer ring and container sides with gold paint.

Light 2: Glue the Noosa container, with the rim against the front of the box/train body, directly under the arc in the sign.

Pilot 1: Cut two large, equal size, triangles out of 2 small flaps; also, creating 4 equal size small triangles.

Pilot 2: Glue the 4 small triangles inside the 2 large triangles with all of them having the largest edge touching.

Pilot 3: Tape the sides of your 6 triangle pilot piece, then paint it black.

Pilot 4: Glue the 6 triangle pilot piece with the point facing out, to the bottom of the front face of the box/train body.

Wheels: Glue all 6 Noosa lids, with the top of the lid (label side) to the train body. Make sure you have 3 equally spaced on each side at the bottom of the box.

Smokebox 1: Your oatmeal box will lie horizontally, with the front of the box facing you.

Smokebox 2: Cut a hole the size of the bottom of the Pringles can in the new top side of the oatmeal box.

Smokebox 3: Paint the smokebox black on all sides, except the back; only paint the top half of the back of the box, since the bottom half will be glued to the train body.

Smokebox 4: Glue the bottom half of the smokebox the the inside-back face of the train body, making sure the top half is above the train body.

Smokestack 1: Glue the Pringles can inside of the smokebox, where the circle was cut out.

Smokestack 2: Paint the smokestack black.

Smoke 1: Glue cotton balls all over the toilet paper roll. Making sure the sides and top of the cylinder are covered.

Smoke 2: Shape cotton balls to create the smoke look you want by gently rubbing and tugging at the cotton fibers.

Smoke 3: Glue the smoke inside of the smokestack.

Train body: Paint the inside and outside of the box/train body red, then add any gold details. You can use washi tape to help minimize touchups from dripped paint.

Costume Straps: Cut the black felt in half, lengthwise. Have your child hold the box in place while you determine the length and width of the location the straps need to be glued inside of the box, then glue them on.

Your train is complete!!

You might want a few accessories to make the costume complete, like conductor clothing and a train whistle. (My son still wears his overalls and keeps his conductor’s hat and whistle in his dress up box.)

Have a fun Halloween and enjoy your DIY train costume.

DIY Color Matching Square

I have been increasing the number of homeschooling supplies I have and the color matching square I found on Etsy.com was $35 and not exactly what I wanted. So, I decided to get crafty and make my own color matching square with the fabric and pattern of my choosing.

I used small patterned felt, found here, to make each section. I chose dots for primary colors (blue, yellow, and red), snowflakes with swirls for secondary colors (green, orange, and purple), and stars for my black and white sections.

To make it easy on me, I made my square out of 8 sections by cutting each square fabric diagonally in half, creating a 45 degree angle.

I used Mod Podge glue, found here, to keep each section in place over a large piece of felt, found here, then sewed the edges of each section to keep it secured in place. (Please, don’t judge the quality of my sewing. This was my first time using a sewing machine and it took me a very long time to not just have one big knot of thread.) I then trimmed off the remaining felt from the back piece.

DIY Color Matching Square 3

On the back of the felt I wrote the name of each color next to the corresponding edge (As you can see, I tried paint and it didn’t turn out well. I ended up using a permanent marker instead).

Back of Color Matching Square

For my 2 year old to be able to play with the color matching square (more than just dancing on top of it like he loves to do) I painted 8 clothespins in  corresponding colors.

His new toy is already working. After only a day of playing with it he now recognized the color “orange!”

DIY Felt Color Matching Square

Using the front of the color matching square, we can practice matching colors (we use other manipulative besides the clothespins), naming colors, learning the difference between primary and secondary colors, match fabric patterns, and practice fine motor skills by manipulating the clothes pin. On the back he can learn to match the color of the clothespin to the written name of the color. As he gets older, we can discuss angles and how the square is made of 45 degree angles and right angles.

As you can see, a simple felt square can provide a lot of learning opportunities.

How will you design your DIY color matching square?