PDF Journals–All You Need to Know!

Click this image to take you to our bookstore for a complete list of PDFs!

Special thanks to Amanda Osenga for writing this guest post to help all of our lovely Fun-Schoolers during this season of change!

When you think of PDFs, I bet your first thought goes to a pile of printed pages. What if I told you there are dozens of options for using PDFs? Including options involving zero printing at all. You can even get them printed into a physical book! I hope these tips will help you find new ways to use PDFs.

Binding and printing options-

Yes, you can go the standard route of print and staple. There’s nothing wrong with this! It’s a tried and true binding technique. Here are a few other options-

  • “Booklet” style.
                This is a setting in Adobe. This will print the size of a standard book. You can fold them in half, staple them, or even hand-stitch them. We find printing about 48 pages at once easiest to work with. Otherwise, it gets too thick.
  • Bookbinding
                Most local print shops can print PDFs as a book for you. Lots of Fun-School moms tell us Barnes & Noble Press does a beautiful job for close to the price of having individual pages printed through a print shop. https://press.barnesandnoble.com/print-on-demand/
  • Disc-bound binding
                These are most well known through the “Happy Planner.” A benefit is the ability to move pages around. Moms love this method for rearranging journals and/or combining multiple journals. You can purchase disc-bound punches at craft stores and office supply stores. This option functions similarly to a spiral notebook and can be folded back or laid flat.  This also allows you to reuse the same rings- saving money and resources!
  • File folder
                Use expandable or hanging file folders to sort, organize, and file PDFs. Print with your desired number of pages per sheet and organize to your heart’s content! Some moms organize by day, others by journal- and others by type of page (Reading Time, Screen Time, Math, etc.)
  • Multiple pages per sheet
                Consider printing two or four pages per sheet. This will save paper and money! It is also a great option for kids overwhelmed by writing because it reduces the space to write on. Moms with kids who love to color often choose to print the coloring pages full-size.
  • Three-ring binders
                Similar to the disc-bound method, this allows you a lot of flexibility. Fun-Schooling families often recommend the Five Star Flex binders because the cover bends backward and lays flat. Any binder will do!
  • Spiral bind
                Spiral binding is another classic printing method. Local shops and box stores can bind for you. Binding machines are also available for purchase, including some with reusable spines. Sometimes churches, schools, or community centers will allow families to use their binding machines.
  • Combine methods!
                Print a PDF booklet style and use it with disc-bound disks. Or print multiple pages/sheets and stick them in a binder. Play around with different methods until you find what you and your children like best. Remember, each kid may like a different method!

Making Family Count is a homeschool printing company operated by a Fun-Schooling family. There are also several other homeschool-based printing companies out there.

Your Local Print Shop

If you haven’t dropped into a local print shop lately, I encourage you to do so. One shop I visited had over 20 different ways they could print and bind PDFs! It’s worth it to head in and ask for their ideas.

Printing Considerations and Tips

Here are a few tips and considerations-

  • Ask your local library
                Many libraries have printing allowances for those with a library card. Some will do discounted or free printing for homeschoolers.
  • Reach out to local churches– especially those with homeschool programs
                We’ve heard from many moms who can print free or cheap this way!
  • Community centers sometimes have free or cheap printing available too
  • Do you, a spouse, or a relative have a printer at work? Ask about paying a small fee or providing your own paper to use printer
  • The Epson Eco Tank printer seems to be the lowest-cost option for an at-home printer This one is on sale at the time of this posting for $169.00 (discounted from $249.99!!)
  • Subscribe to email newsletters from box store office supply companies. They do deeply discounted paper a few times a year.
  • If money is extremely tight- ask your neighborhood Buy Nothing, Freecycle, or Neighbors Helping Neighbors group to see if anyone would be willing to print for you if you provide the paper.
  • Some moms combine multiple journals for an entire week, month, semester, or school year. You can rearrange journal pages with some of the flexible binding methods mentioned above. There are also programs available online to merge and reorganize PDFs!
  • If your print shop has any concerns regarding printing copyrighted material, you can email contact@funschooling.com and request a printing release.

Skip Printing and Use PDFs Digitally

You can use PDFs digitally with the following apps/programs- tutorials can be found on YouTube for using them

Goodnotes

Kami

Notability

Liquid Text

PDF Expert

Krita

Microsoft Edge has a built-in PDF editor

You can also get the paid version of Adobe and edit directly on the PDF.


*Note- these are programs Fun-School Moms have suggested. We have yet to test all of them. This is not considered an endorsement of these programs. Do your research to verify their privacy rules, advertising, etc.

We hope these tips help you to get the most out of your PDFs! Let us know if you do something else unique with your PDFs.

Start a Fun-Schooling Co-Op!

Step one in beginning a Fun-Schooling Co-Op is to Flip to Fun-Schooling yourself! Then you are prepared to encourage other moms to join you on your journey! Here are some photos from our Co-Op at Olive Branch Farm.

How Do I Start a Fun-Schooling Co-Op?

1. Create a Facebook Group: “Fun-Schooling in My Region, My State” (If there are no other homeschooling families in your city interested in FUN expand you reach to the county or region, like Central Florida, as soon as you decide on a region, post it in our Fun-Schooling Moms Homeschool Support Group so others in the same area can join you and not duplicate. Check comments for duplicates before you create a new group.)

2. Share some posts from our main page and FunSchooling.com in your group.

3. Invite me to your group.

4. Everyone who starts a Fun-Schooling Facebook Community group should join our Leaders Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/637742757064906/

What Do Fun-Schooling Co-ops Do?

Co-ops are private gatherings, like birthday parties- so don’t worry about legalities as long as everyone who comes is invited. Some people worry about creating a formal organization but that’s not needed when you are getting started. Everyone can pitch in and contribute like family.

They schedule FUN social activities for local homeschooling families and support each other while using Fun-Schooling Journals. They may plan activities based on a common Fun-Schooling Journal or Theme. For example if your group is using the Nature study PDF you might do nature crafts, weather experiments or go to a nature preserve together.

What are some activities we offer at Olive Branch Farm? Our always-evolving list includes: Pottery Painting, Watercolors, Gardening, Swimming, A Disk Golf Course, Soccer Field, Scooter ramps, Bikes, Scooters, Skateboards, Horses, Music Room, Lego Zone, Jewelry making station, Library, Fidget Room, Zip Line, Farm Animals, Nature Park, Cafe, Pool Table, Volley Ball, Preschool Zone, Snack Bar, Board Games, and our Herb Garden and Orchard.

Need inspiration? Here is a great resource:

Fun-Schooling “Show & Tell”

Fun-Schooling is a very joyful way to homeschool. We engage in fun research and logic based learning quests that focuses on the individual child’s strengths, talents, career dreams, faith, family values and nature exploration. Kids learn through projects and journaling, with library books and educational videos! Much of the learning is focused on doing unit studies revolving around the child’s passion. There are Fun-Schooling Journals that focus of lots of different topics and subjects that kids love, like horses, travel, baking, gardening, survival, nature, art, writing and so much more.

Maybe I should show you instead of just telling. Some of us are more visual in our learning style. Want to see what Fun-Schooling looks like in our house? Here are some videos that can do just that!

We have over 50 videos on our YouTube channel, on all kinds of topics! Click here to go and browse them all! Here are some screen shots just to give you an idea of the information available:

All of this, and so much more! Come join us!

The “Why” of Mom-Schooling

Mom-School happens when you remember who you are through your passions, your interests and your needs. You fill a basket with learning tools for yourself, then in your free time you dig into your Mom-School Basket, read a book or watch a tutorial about something you want to learn… instead of watching TV, Netflix, or cruising Facebook.

Mom-School energizes me while the children curiously look into my basket, watch me learn, see me grow… and they discover that I am not just their mom, but a woman with dreams, goals, ideas, needs and desires.

They see me research and join me for an online class, they flip through my Mom-School Journal and see my careful efforts and beautiful handwriting. They see me as someone who is curious, they see me as a detective, an explorer, a creator, a follower, a leader and a friend.

Mom-School is waking up with ideas, and being full of wonder. It’s problem solving and crafting, it’s higher education or a new recipe.

Mom-School is remembering who you are in the midst of the busy season of mothering and holding on to your dreams so your children will be inspired to become who they were created to be, because they are basking in the example of you.

Mom-School is refreshing and calming, and it’s worth your time and mine. Mom-School is empowering to you as a woman and sets the stage for your children to follow your example because you make learning look so delightful.

Join our Mom-Schooling Facebook group here!

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Don’t Fear a “Learning Gap”

Don’t be afraid of learning gaps.

Kids don’t need to learn everything.

Kids need to know HOW to learn what they need when they need it.

Sometimes we fear learning gaps, but if a child knows HOW to research there will be no permanent holes because the child will be capable of learning on the go.

There is no way to prepare a child for what life and the economy will look like when they are adults.

Today’s standardized education is already behind.

It is research skills, creativity, character and resourcefulness that will insure potential for successful adult life.

Thinking Tree focuses on life skills, thinking skills, planning skills, being innovative, being creative, being resourceful, great character development, having excellent research skills, reading and writing skills and a strong work ethic. These things are NOT usually part of a standardized curriculum plan. You may worry that your kids will not be on grade level; but the skills that matter most are often overlooked and undervalued.

Inspiring Your Child to Read

I don’t worry much about reading before age 9. The longer they play the better! When my children start asking me “Mom, how do you spell…?” That’s when I know they are ready for reading. When a child is ready to learn to read it’s so easy to help them.

When it comes to learning to read there shouldn’t be a struggle. Dyslexic children and creative kids struggle because we are trying to teach them too soon. Dyslexia Games helps prepare the mind for reading and writing without stress, and helps to teach reading in a self directed way that works for creative kids.

Still, sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the job of reading before age 9. For some it may be age 11– kids who learn to read late tend to be very artistic and creative.

The first key to inspiring a child to read is to find out what the child wants to learn about and be attentive to what he is passionate about. Provide books on ALL levels about those topics. Look at the books together, and use books with a Fun-Schooling Journal. Allow the child to do a lot of drawing in the Fun-Schooling Journal if they can’t write, and please do some of the writing for him or her while the child watches and dictates (writing for your child once a week is enough).

The second key is to model a love for reading real books and writing on real paper – in front of your child – that’s what Mom-School books are for. When a child sees a parent reading and writing (not on a computer) they automatically desire to do it too. The brain is wired to give children a drive to do what adults do. (One big problem with classrooms is that all the kids are the same age, and kids are not getting an example of how people learn at a higher level.)

Curiosity will drive the desire to read, and the brain will begin to wire itself to read, write and spell. When a child is curious about reading they are going to learn quickly and efficiently. When a child feels the need to read, they WANT to learn.

When you try to force kids to read, write, and spell before they desire to do it naturally you are going to face a constant struggle. If the child desires to learn, they are going to be active in the learning, and actually teach themselves – it’s beautiful and joyful.

So, precious homeschooling mom, if your eight year old can’t read, don’t worry, just remember the two keys!

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Is Math Your Homeschool Nemesis?

🧐The PROBLEM with math is that the way it is normally taught! Conventional math lessons are boring, hard to understand, seem irrelevant to real life, and are no fun. 😔

😉My books are like a reset button, kind of like comfort therapy. 😌

My math books are not designed to prepare your child to take a standardized test. Instead they bring math concepts down to earth.

My books make math practical, fun, creative, useful, and easy to apply to real life problems and projects.

What I do is have my children learn basic math with Fun-Schooling Books, and real life projects involving MONEY, time, calculating, and measurements. They become very confident and unintimidated by math. They don’t see it as a subject, but as a super valuable skill for getting things done.

If I were you and wanted to raise kids to be able to confidently use real math in real life… Work through the Thinking Tree Books, then add the math you need for testing, credits or grade level learning.

I would suggest Khan Academy, Life of Fred, Math-U-See, Prodigy…

My kids focus on learning the math that is relevant to their career goals.

Let’s Play “What Will Happen Next?”

How to play:
1. Set up an interesting activity and take the first creative step.
2. Leave everything out. Take a photo of the set up.
3. Don’t tell the kids what to do. Just tell them what not to do…. ” No school until after lunch today. No computer time.”
4. Go have a smoothie or cup of tea. Do Mom School.
5. Come back in an hour and take a picture of the results.
6. Post both pictures in our Fun-Schooling with Thinking Tree Books – Mom’s Homeschooling Support Group under the blog post in the group!
The photo above is my “before”. Here is “after”. It took five minutes for 2 of the girls to notice the table. Even an hour later, Susie was still at it!

Sarah’s Survival Tips!

Bad Days. We all have them.

Here are some ideas for how I try to turn a bad day into a good day.

1. Turn on “Just Dance” for the kids on YouTube.

2. Don’t try to do school as planned. Find a funny way to repurpose a page in a workbook or Fun-Schooling Journal. Let your kids turn the Nature Study page into a Zombie Study page.

3. Take a break from everything that is stressing anyone out.

4. Get out of the house, with or without kids. Preferably without. Haha!

5. Get out a board game or UNO. If you want the older kids to be busy for a long time offer a nice prize to the winner of the Monopoly game.

6. Turn on Secret Garden – White Stones.

7. Assign each big kid to play with each little kid, and escape.

8. Let the kids bake something.

9. Light candles and ask one of the older girls to make tea for two.

10. Sit in the corner and cry. And then find the chocolate. And then color in a Mom-School Journal.

12. Read a blog post by an inspiring person, like deeprootsathome.com

13. Ask husband to take a bunch of kids to a park. (If you are a single mom, reach out to grandparents or fellow mom friends for a swap play date…and then return the favor!)

14. Get everyone outside for Nature Study.

15. Make an early dinner.

16. Tell the kids that we will have a movie night if they get the house clean, and turn on the happy music while they work.

17. Snuggle on the couch with littles and read Goodnight Moon. Or read “Christian Heroes – Then & Now” in the living room while kids work in their Fun-Schooling journals.

18. Send a group of older kids to the corner market to get ice cream for everyone.

19. Figure out how to turn tonight into a date night.

20. If all else fails, ask husband to put the kids to bed early. Then clean your room really nice, set out a treat, light a candle, turn on peaceful music, ask husband to bring the wine, lattes, or fresh squeezed orange juice. Be sure to sweetly ask husband to get the kids to bed while while you take a long hot shower. In this case HE WILL do what it takes to get the kids to bed early!

What works for YOU? Share in the comments!

Teen Boys: What’s a Homeschool Mom to Do?

(In this post, we’ll go back in time to a Facebook post from 2015 and look at the model we followed (and still do) for homeschooling our teens. Sometimes it helps to see what it “looks like”!)

People often ask me what I do with my teens for school.  Here is a question that must be answered to start going in the right direction:

If you knew what your child was going to be when he (or she) grows up what kind of education would you provide?

Public educators expect kids to choose a “minor and major” when they go to college.  I expect my kids to study specific “minors and a major” starting in elementary school, and getting very serious at age 13.  For their 13th birthday we have a themed party based on their “career dreams” at the time.  Isaac wanted to be a chef at age 13, Anna wanted to be a baker, Estera wanted to be a photographer.  So you can imagine their parties!

Isaac, age 14

This is what my 16 year old son is studying this year–everything is relevant to his life and goals:

#1 Creative Online Marketing

#2 Publishing

#3 Personal Money Management

#4 Project Management (He is building a Minecraft server for homeschoolers with a history and inventions theme. He has a couple nerds working for him.)

#5 Music & Video Production (click here to see a documentary video he created!)

#6 Cats – He wants to breed and sell show cats, and make coloring books, an online community and a website for cat lovers.

#7 Bible, Missions, Evangelism and Teaching Students

#8 History (This is his passion, he loves Uncle Eric Books)

#9 Family, Relationships – Preparation for being a dad and husband.  He jokes about how taking care of his cats is prep for parenting, and he does want to get married and have a family of his own, and he knows that he will need to provide for that family.

#10 Cooking – in the past he wanted to be a chef, so we spent a couple years to help him train, he had two jobs as a personal chef at age 14 and 15.  Now he isn’t as interested, but could easily get a job as a chef at any point, and has great references. We invested a lot of time and resources in his previous passion for cooking – now he doesn’t want to be a cook.  Was that a waste of investment?  NO!  His family will be thankful, and he has something to fall back on… and he’s only 16.  The boy has skills. 

#11 Voice Acting.. Why not? Someone has to do it!

As you can see he has no time for a typical learning plan. We don’t do any formal math just practical math.  I am not worried about higher education, credits, testing, college.  He isn’t going to need a diploma to get a job.  He will be an entrepreneur; he will be the one hiring.  I have talked to him about higher education and the things he would need to do to take that path in the future. He knows that if he wants to go to college later he can prepare for the testing on his own and do it. He has plenty of time for hobbies and is very good at sports.

I started allowing my children to choose majors and minor when Anna (my 1st dyslexic child) was seven. She couldn’t read and write, so art, gardening and cooking were everything for two years until I invented Dyslexia Games

When people ask me about homeschooling and what the kids are doing I might talk might sound like I am talking about a college student, not a 7 year old.

I am not at all worried about higher education, I start giving them a higher education at age 13.

What would each of your children like to major in this year if they had the choice?

If your child wants to be an artist and mommy – take her seriously! Help her to become the best artist and mommy ever! That’s what I wanted to be my whole life… and that is what I have become.

Today, our son is 23, married, finishing Bible College this May, and is a composer. He’s running a recording studio as well. He has been supporting himself for five years.

Our son Isaac and his beautiful wife, Margarita