Tag Archives: homeschool

The Paper Pickle {31 Days of Life. Contained.}

Life Contained 2014 button

This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Life. Contained. Want to catch up on the entire series? Click here. Want to stay connected and not miss another post? Follow me on facebook.


Paper. What do you do with it? It is surely the monster that threatens to consume my very existence or at the very least, my sanity.

the paper pickle

As of this year, we have three girls attending a charter school. This equates to piles of school papers. Piles.

What do I do with it all, I ask you? Short of hiring a personal secretary, I stumbled across this concept –keepsake boxes.

We began using them last year and it changed my life.

school paper organization

I went to Office Depot to pick up the very same colorful totes that Toni used for her kiddos. Clearly, I was making the right decision when I saw that they were buy one, get one free. I now had Office Depot backing me up. When you waffle on making decisions like I do, a sale sign seems paramount. It was like pushing the easy button but in the wrong store.

I rounded another corner, and boom. The hanging file folders were also on sale. Of course they were. This mission was corporate-approved, I tell you. Could a project be made any easier (and cheaper) than this? These childhood boxes were meant to be. I could not deny it.

children's paper storage

I grabbed up the colors that I needed in the totes as well as their coordinating folders. (Remember my children are color coded.)

school paper storage

I used my labeler to make the following labels for the files. While I used some of the same folder names as Toni, I did not follow her list exactly. Nor will you, if you should choose to try this organizational method. Obviously though, grades K-12, report cards, birthday cards, artwork, etc. will be necessary for any child. The more extracurricular preferences and interests will be the areas that vary.

  •  Birthday cards
  • Report cards
  • School pictures
  • Artwork
  • Toddler years
  • Kindergarten- Twelfth Grade (one file for each grade)
  • Church (Sunday School, AWANA, VBS, etc.)
  • Academic Awards

storing school papers

And yes, it was a little emotional to print labels such as these. The senior year of high school seems so distant, but then I remind myself, so did fifth grade and yet here we are. The years are like water in my hand, slipping by at a rate that is beyond my control.

I still have several empty files to organize new categories as my children continue to grow and to pursue new interests.

organizing school papers

Their boxes are stored on the top shelves of their bedroom closets for easy access. At the end of each semester, I sort through their school papers and decide which to keep and which to toss.

(A life lesson I’ve learned: Never sort and discard papers during the daytime — and certainly not in their presence. Tears will be sure to follow.)

memory storage for children

(As shown in the pictures, I have two totes that I’ve fully finished creating and labeling files. The blue and green keepsake totes are still being worked on.)

Pink. Purple. Blue. Green. I just need to go grab their orange one for Baby Van. ( By the way, I love being able to share her “name” now. It makes me smile just typing it.)

Orange would be the perfect choice for my October baby — Mama’s little pumpkin.


tip 24

How do you store your children’s handiwork, schoolwork and keepsakes? A designated filing drawer in the family’s filing cabinet? A cardboard box under your bed? Taking the time to sort and organize papers will not only help to better preserve their work, but will also help to reduce the amount of storage used. Tame that monster today.

Thanks for reading.


The Educational Embarrassment {31 Days of Life. Contained.}

Life Contained 2014 button

This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Life. Contained. Want to catch up on the entire series? Click here. Want to stay connected and not miss another post? Follow me on facebook.


the educational embarrassment

Target’s Dollar Spot gets me every time.

Every week I determine that I’m going to enter in on the food side -just to avoid walking by this money pit. And I cave every. single. Tuesday.

There is a reason that it’s located right there at the entrance of the store. It’s clearly for people like me, suckers for anything with a couple of rhinestones, a polka-dot pattern and a burlap bow. Throw on a $1.00 price tag, and it’s in my cart.

school supplies organized

All joking aside, they really do have some neat stuff in those bins, some of which are pretty nice considering the value.

One of my favorite things to purchase is educational material for my kiddos during their Back-to School display. I try to get it when they clearance out specific zones in their Dollar Spot, ranging anywhere from 50-70% off. While the regular Dollar Spot is wonderful, the clearanced Dollar Spot is downright awesome.

Somehow buying random educational items seems justifiable. I mean, isn’t expanding children’s minds  worth a few extra dollars? I think so too.

making a school supply caddy

This year I grabbed a set of U.S. presidents trivia book, flashcards and workbook. I also found a similar set for U.S. states. Of course, I grabbed the usual alphabet, numbers, multiplication, division and sight word flashcards. Ho-hum. They are annual purchases. Why you ask?

We lose them. Like every year lose them. Clearly, as the title suggests, this is embarrassing. A BIG, fat black mark on my record as homemaker.

But no more. This year I put my foot down. These are the final set of cards that I’m buying. We are taking care of them. My kids will forever remember that elephant starts with e and that jack-o-lantern starts with j -all because of these cards.  I’m going to go so far as to leave this specific set in my will. Mark my words, you will see these exact sets of cards in years to come. So will my grandchildren…I am that determined.

But in order to do so, it was imminent that I create a school zone. These evasive little buggers needed a landing zone in this chaotic household.

organizing a homework zone

Our hall closet seemed like the perfect choice. It’s near both the kitchen and the living room, which together constitutes Grand Central Station as far as homework is concerned.

I began gathering a few cheap containers to organize a school/homework shelf. Here’s what I came up with for my new zone.

school supply storage

Dollar Tree currently has some nice plastic shoe box-style containers. This purple-looking one seems somewhat gray in tone to me. Maybe I’m just going color blind or it was merely wishful thinking on my part.  I love gray. At any rate, I nabbed two of them for this project. I slapped simple labels on them and called it a day. A generic “school” label gives me the liberty to decide to stuff them with whatever school paraphernalia I choose. I like some wiggle room.

school supply caddy

Last summer, I grabbed a metal utensil organizer during Target’s end of summer clearance sale. It was originally $10.00 but I purchased it for three bucks. Don’t you just love the red metal? It is the perfect homework caddy for the children. I used a few small glass jars to help contain some of the smaller loose items.

organizing a homework station

(See. I told you not to worry, Mason jars. You are still a well-loved container of mine, and always will be.)

However, just between you and me, a few of the jars are actually recycled pickle jars. While I did wash and air out the jars before using them, I obviously was not overly concerned and nit-picky in removing all the glue. I was not going to waste time over something that would be hidden down inside the caddy. Function over beauty was my motto.

organizing school supplies

We have been enjoying this new zone for homework time every afternoon as well as for the occasional art project. We no longer have to wonder where the glue sticks are or crawl around looking for lost crayons in the couch cushions.

As far as the flashcards go, so far so good. My grandkids may see them yet. And wouldn’t that be something.


tip 11

Whether you homeschool or have your children in a traditional school setting, a special school supply spot can be a great time saver. Even if you don’t have kids, but have extended family, grandchildren or perhaps your neighbor’s children in your home from time to time, you may find this to be beneficial. Keep it simple, keep it within easy reach and above all else, keep this thought in mind. Storage solutions don’t have to be expensive. Dollar Tree offers some nice options, or you can be really frugal and recycle a container.

Remember -function over beauty. Say it with me.

Thanks for reading.


Day 12: Homemade {Non-Toxic} Finger Paint

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”585px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” rounded_corners=”false” ]Follow along the 31 days of Homemade Living everyday by enjoying them sent straight to your inbox or follow along on facebook and/or twitter. If you are new to the series, you can follow along from the beginning here. Thanks for stopping by.[/dropshadowbox]


Every kid needs to get their hands dirty sometimes. And yes, sometimes it means their clothes and the kitchen table.

I wanted something special for the girls to be able to do with their daddy tomorrow while I’m at the conference.  What to do?

Finger painting fit the bill.

And I found a great site that analyzed four common homemade recipes for finger paint at La Jolla Mom.  The one I chose (which was also the site’s favorite) was made with two simple ingredients from your kitchen cabinet.

The simplicity of this recipe makes this recipe a favorite.

Homemade {Non-toxic} Finger Paint

Recipe Type: craft
Author: Heather @ Thrifty Stories
Prep time:
Total time:
The perfect craft recipe for a rainy afternoon…or any afternoon.
  • 1/2 c. corn starch
  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 drops of food coloring
  1. Mix water and corn starch in a small sauce pan over medium heat
  2. Whisk until it thickens.
  3. Allow to cool completely.
  4. Divide and mix in food coloring.
  5. Store in containers.


Your corn starch and water will look like this when it has thickened.

The oohs and aahs from the peanut gallery by my side as I mixed in the food coloring was adorable.  We don’t do much with food coloring.  In fact, we had to get some food coloring from Target last night just for this project.

I stored the finger paint in these cute little Ball jars.  I use them all the time.  They are perfect for many different things like personal sized servings, homemade furniture polish, or crafts like this one.  I bought mine from Walmart. (It’s four jars for about $4-$6 for the set.)

I look forward to seeing the sweet pictures waiting for me on our fridge when I get home tomorrow.  Their proud little faces as they happily point out their creations will make this recipe worth every minute.

I wonder if Hubs will still love me after he oversees this craft.

Do you like to get your hands dirty?  Do your children?  Have you ever tried making finger paint?  This recipe would be perfect to do on a rainy afternoon or maybe when your kids are just bored…like mine sometimes are.  

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”500px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Thanks for stopping by. I am beyond excited about joining Nester’s31 Days Series. I hope that Homemade Living blesses your home as much as it will mine. I am honored to be linking with some fellow bloggers for this series. Please click the boxes below to check out their series (and their sweet blogs!).



Thanks for following along with this series.