NEW! Make Planning Beautiful with the Year Round Homeschooling Planner

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If you’ve been following our school journey for any length of time, you know that we do homeschool a bit differently, and I don’t mean just because we homeschool.  Sometimes we’re eclectic.  Sometimes we’re unit study-ers.  Sometimes we’re road-schoolers.  Sometimes we’re project-based learners. 

We don’t use any packaged curriculum as-is except for math, because I enjoy writing our own and being creative with resources and I may be a little bit crazy.  Ahem.

We love doing school this way, but that means that there’s no one, easy calendar, chart, or plan for us to follow.  We do something for a month or a unit, and then we move on, and our days might look quite different.  It means I do a lot of planning over the summer, I buy random resources in advance, and we pull from the library, Netflix, field trips, etc.

It can be hard to organize, and for sure I can’t remember it all without help.

I love putting everything into charts and being organized, but I hate making charts.

That’s why I was thrilled to check out Misty Leask’s brand-new Year Round Homeschooling Planner.  It’s 80+ pages of gorgeous charts, calendars, and list-pages, all designed to help you plan your school year and keep everything organized.  
year round homeschooling planner, year round homeschool planner, homeschool planner

You’ll find everything you need inside, but Best Thing #1?  The Year Round Homeschooling Planner  is beautiful.  The graphics and colors are done in a watercolor-style wash, and feature things like butterflies that are peaceful and calming.  It’s going to be so much fun to write on these pages.

Best Thing #2:  A few of these prettiest pages are done in different colors, so if you prefer warm colors over cool?  No problem!  Print the pages you want in your preference of colors.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s really only half as many pages, because in reality there are only a few done with those options of color, but I love that it’s there.  Certain styles definitely spoke to me, and with this option, I can print those favorites to use.

Best Thing #3:  I can print only the pages I need.  The year at a glance, or the monthly pages, the pre-planning lists, or the purchasing lists – I can print whatever I need, and it’s ready to go and beautiful.  I can also print copies for each kid, or make each kid a different color (that works because I have only two; if you have more, you’ll need to duplicate colors), but options are there.  You know what this means?  Best Thing #3.5:  You don’t have to be a year-round homeschooler to use this.  Just print the pages you need, and go.  Need to keep track of what books you need to buy for Kid #1?  Which activities are counting towards which subjects for Kid #2?  Need pretty grading sheets?  This will totally help you out.

Best Thing #4:  After reading through all 80+ pages of the Year Round Homeschooling Planner , I can’t think of a single, solitary chart, graph, or list that I might need that isn’t in this packet.  It’s all here.  There’s not a single thing left for me to do besides print my favorite pages and dig in.

Best Thing #5:  Right now, this beautiful planner is on sale for only $9.99!  How reasonable is that for an undated planner that you can use year after year? – but after today, the price goes up to $12.99, so don’t wait.

Get your Year Round Homeschooling Planner here!

A Gift Guide for the Young Engineer

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My kids are crazy about engineering right now.  They love to design things, find new ways to make things work, and to create their own gadgets.  It can be hard to find the right tools for them to use, though, and that’s why I love the resources you’ll find below. 

Finding the right holiday gift can be a struggle. Rather than leaving you to a google rabbit hole or a bunch of recommendations to sift through, I’ve pulled together a one-stop shop filled with meaningful gifts for the tinkerers in your life…Whether they’re 3 or 83.

In this gift guide, you’ll find:

  • classic blocks reinvigorated
  • gifts for mechanical tinkerers
  • super cool robot kits
  • gifts for computer savvy kids

Building Blocks 2.0



Tiny builders, start here!

These soft tactile blocks are great for truly little littles to learn on. Made of natural rubber foam, they are squishy but perfect for building. They’re colorful and durable and fit together easily. Children can create a variety of shapes and structures!

Using imagination and coordination, young children work on spatial, fine and gross motor skills. For kids who need sensory input, the tactile stimulation provided by this toy is fantastic.

And while we’re thinking about giving, it’s also important to think about responsible buying. This is a green product, made in India at a fair trade factory using premium quality, child-safe materials. The surface is 100% nylon and wipes clean, making it perfect for little chewers!

“My husband is quite the handyman. I purchased these for my son (and a different set for my daughter), to encourage their interest in making/building things and in fixing things. So far, I have a new a bird feeder and a bat house. Yah!” ~ Gail R – Teacher

Magformers Challenger Set


The unmatched magnetic building set. Talk about STEAM!

Perfect for large families and ambitious builders, the Challenger set encourages kids to explore magnetic construction through modular play. Magformers believes it is vital for children to develop through creativity and constructional play. This set does not disappoint.

You’ll find a variety of magnetic shapes in this set, both Rainbow and XL cruiser pieces so that children can design and build ideas from both lines including the ‘magic ball’ and super fast XL roadster.

This set makes a great addition to a math or art curriculum, that’s super hands – on. Children of all ages can build and create together making it a great social gift set.

Tegu Blocks: 40-Piece Magnetic Wooden Set


Building blocks 2.0!

Tegu blocks are finely crafted  with magnets embedded so kids can build multiple structures form various shapes. Like Rubbablox,Tegu is made from eco-friendly material (in this case wood) and comes in a variety of color schemes to suit preference and mood. Honduras and named after the capital city Tegucigalpa.

Kids defy gravity and push their imagination in previously unseen ways. No instruction manuals or electronics; just toys that demand imagination and inspire limitless creativity across all ages.

Tegu Blocks are bringing back open, creative play with style – right in time!

This makes a great gift because it unlocks a child’s mind through innovative play. The pieces are small enough to be portable.

“I believe this is an AMAZING product. Something amazing happens when kids use their hands and imagination to create.” ~ Harvey S

“Bought these for my 6 year old grandson for Christmas and we now call his creations ‘the work of a City Planner.’ The different shapes and structures take on the look of city skylines with random items like trees, bridges, etc. Geometry was never so much fun.” ~Deborah F – Homeschooler, Teacher

“My first reaction was “these are pricey!” but they were highly recommended to me so I gave it a go. Now I can tell they will be loved for years. My 3 year old loves stacking them and clicking them together and a part. I even have fun playing with these and I’m an adult. They are high quality and the colors are great. ~ Summer H – Homeschooler, Parent, Teacher

The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book


Packed with step-by-step instructions for 15 charming builds, The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book is the perfect family activity this holiday season! It’s one part coffee table for adults, and two parts instruction book kids of all ages.

With The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book as their guide, kids make classic globe and barrel ornaments, all out of LEGO! Other possible creations include original gingerbread houses, a merry Santa, arcade cabinets, and so much more!

This makes a perfect gift for the child who already owns tons of LEGO blocks but is always looking for inspirational building ideas.

Magformers Math Activity Set


Math comes to life with this awesome set!

Put some STEAM in your holiday plans! This math activity set stimulates learning through magnetic construction and creation. Activities in the set utilize the always attracting magnets to solve math problems such as patterns, addition and subtraction, and 2D nets to 3D structures.

Perfect for the visual-spatial learner who loves math puzzles.

Use the 50 page math book included to layout Magformers shapes and complete the mathematical challenges! The set contains 12 different geometric shapes including squares and triangles, rectangles and trapezoids through to the super squares and triangles.

Mechanical Masterminds

Tool Set 10-Piece Child Size


Realistic building for young builders! This set makes a great gift for children who love to help parents and grandparents in the workshop.

Encourage children to spend valuable imagination time learning new skills with this 10-piece set tool set. It includes screwdrivers, hammer, handsaw, bar clamp, file, tape measure, ruler, safety goggles, and tool belt.

Work and play are intertwined with building activities that are challenging, educational, and – most importantly, fun! The tool designs are authentic so children can make-believe they are true woodworkers.

Toobeez Building 57 Piece Connector Settoobeez-building-57-piece-connector-set-lr1474-1460408785-7373-3088

Ages 7 to 10

Build big connections! Kids work together to literally make bridges, obstacle courses – anything they imagine.

Start fun-filled construction with just three simple steps: connect, twist, and create. Toobeez Original Building Kit is a life-sized construction toy. Unlike regular blocks, this kit comes with interlocking tubes and spheres that can be linked to create structures right out of kids’ imagination. They can construct anything from a doll house, a helicopter, lemonade stand or a pirate ship.

Just connect and twist the tube into the connector spheres. It’s a great set to be used indoors for forts as well as outdoors for lawn activities.

This set makes a lasting gift because it promotes creativity and inspires imagination with unlimited building possibilities. Adults won’t be able to resist creating with their kids!


14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit


The 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot kit is the recipient of the “Best Green Products Award 2013” from Dr Toy and Creative Child Magazine has anointed it with “Top Toy of the Year Award” and “Kids Product of the Year Award.”

It’s the coolest and greenest robot on the planet!

This robot can be transformed into 14 different robot modes which include a multitude of comical and functional movements. The user can easily change from a Wagging-Tail Dog to Running Beetle to Walking Crab to Surfer to Speedster to Zombie Chaser!

It’s super versatile, too – there are parts that make the robot move on land and water. Like an amphibian! This a great gift for more advanced robot aficionados.

“Excellent resource for my Middle School STEAM students. Anything robotic is extremely appealing and interesting to them so this was a big set!!! Great resource, highly recommend it.” ~ Faith B., Teacher

“We purchased this for our just-turned-9 year old’s birthday. He loves it! It’s a nice size and there are so many things you can do with it! It comes with about 200 pieces and a thick instruction manual on how to make 14 different bots. Of course, the limit is your imagination and I’m excited to see how many things my son can come up with!” ~ Celena M

“Fun and educational. I like the snap together concept and the ability to take apart and reassemble multiple times. A very good price for all that you get.” ~ Martha M

Magformers Walking Robot Set


Build a 3D bot! This makes a creative and thinking gift for the child fascinated by robots.

Young innovators will click, connect, and create with the NEW Magformers 45 piece Walking Robot set! Kids will love following along with the step-by-step idea booklet to discover the possibilities of the colorful Walking Robot Set. Eight walking characters are built using the STEAM engine block and walking accessories!

Building with Magformers encourages children to use their imagination and show their creativity while developing skills and knowledge critical to their development success. Magformers uses high quality “always attracting” magnetic technology that provides endless constructional play.


Mand Labs KIT-1: The Coolest DIY Kit for Fun Learning in Electronics


An electrifying gift! This kit is perfect for the budding electrician looking to be stimulated by simple but intriguing experiments.

Mand Labs KIT-1 is one of the coolest Educational Electronics Kit that you will ever find. With their powerful step by step visual instructions, teens can create a variety of fascinating electricity and electronic projects. They will be able to understand how real world electronic component works, test laws of physics, gain technical skills and have fun. Watch out, Nobel!

The best part is that the kit is all-in-one. It comes with all requisite parts and tools for making 50+ projects and venturing further into electronics, books for theoretical reference, learning and making videos, troubleshooting guide, and an award winning package design that opens up into a personalized workstation. Note: This is a safe kit.


Beginning Architecture eCourse 1-3


Audio visual meets real world building.

This is an online e-course of Beginning Architecture with 25+ architecture lessons providing the early fundamentals of structures, home design, and zoo design.

Kids use things laying around the house like paper, popsicle sticks, straws, paper plates, and pipe cleaners along with learned methods to design their own homes! Each lesson concentrates on designing and personalizing a specific room of their homes, structures or zoos. By the end of the course, students will have designed a home specific to their personal tastes and will have built various designs.

This course provides more specific architectural challenges for students who are interested in playing with and learning about architecture and some interior design, making it a great holiday gift!

Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress


Teens will have a blast learning how to make their own website with the help of this fun, illustrated introduction to the basics of website-building. Mix creativity with real world empowerment.  The awesome cartoon guide will help teens learn the basics and pretty soon, they’ll have a website all their own to show off to all their friends.

Readers learn how to use HTML tags, make their own site shine with CSS, customize WordPress to fit their needs, and choose a company to host the site. They also get advice on things like how to pick a good domain name – and those of you in the blogging sphere know that’s no joke!

Help kids stop dreaming of their perfect website and start making it!


See the Light Art Sale Ending Tonight!

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See the Light is my FAVORITE packaged curriculum, and that’s why I look for it every time I’m planning future lessons.  Right now it’s on SALE!

See the Light is a DVD art curriculum taught by real artists.  There are different styles of art available, such as drawing, chalk pastels, or creative lettering, and you can purchase these materials in different ways.  Some DVDs have collections of one type of instruction, like all drawing lessons, while others include lessons with a variety of art styles around a common theme – like Christmas or Easter.

See the LIght On Sale Now!

A few years ago we worked our way through the ‘Art Class’ DVDs, which contain drawing lessons from Master Artist Pat Knepley.  I loved watching my kids gain confidence in their artwork.  Their entire approach to art changed, as well, as they went from whining, “I can’t draw that!” when I suggested an art project to picking up their pencils confidently and eagerly.  The difference in their artwork is amazing, even though they were both in mid-elementary school at the time.  This bird – the one above?  My daughter sat and sketched that one day for fun – and she’s still sketching years later.  She even created a coloring book entry for the North Carolina State Fair this year and won first place!

The art projects are great for learning about specific types of art, artists, and art history.  Each one features a particular work by a famous artist and then, in a series of lessons, teaches you how to create your own version.  I love that one series of lessons incorporates multiple subjects and leaves you with a beautiful piece of art.

See the Light has been bringing out a new line of unit studies, too, and one is now available about Van Gogh.  We haven’t used this one yet, but we’ll be trying it out after Christmas. 

See the Light doesn’t hold sales often, so if you’ve been wanting to try out their products, this is the perfect time!  Hop over and check out their selection now – and remember to use BLACKCYBER for 20% off and free shipping!

Visiting With Simplicity

Visiting With Simplicity@ A Nest in the Rocks

Recently we heard that a new all-natural, independently owned spa shop had opened up – in an Airstream.

Since My Big Helper makes and sells her own products to help fund a trip with the Hands and Feet Mission Project in Haiti, this was definitely something we wanted to check out.

We opened the front door of the With Simplicity Airstream on a hot summer afternoon and were immediately transported to a beautiful spa-like space.  Irena Dovganetskiy has remade her space into something completely calming and relaxing – with lots of all-natural products to explore.

I picked up a beautiful diffuser necklace on site and purchased a sisal soap bag for my husband.  My Big Helper was enthralled by the aqua-colored nail polish, and my eyes kept going back to a wooden hairbrush – I’ll be snagging that on my next visit. 

The selection and variety was large – from bath bombs and sugar scrubs to a complete line of makeup and all the beauty accessories you could want – you’ll find everything you need to keep your skin pampered and healthy.

We love supporting independent business owners, and Irena was just as kind and encouraging to My Big Helper.  I can’t wait to go back.

If you’re not in the Harrisonburg, VA, area, and want to get some of Irena’s wonderful products for yourself, you can find With Simplicity here and here.

If you’d like to shop My Big Helper’s line of products and help send her to Haiti to work with orphans, you can find her product list here.

Do you shop at any independent markets?  Please share – I’d love to check them out.

FREE 14 Day Trial Is Now Available for the Odyssey Adventure Club!


Think of ways you can enjoy this summer for free:

  • Hiking
  • Visiting parks in your area
  • Swimming
  • Camping in your backyard
  • Visit a public museum or library

Now, add more fun and imagination to your summer through the Odyssey Adventure Club!

The Odyssey Adventure Club will give you streaming access to more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes plus a sneak peek of exclusive audio and video stories, on-line activities and daily devotions you can’t find anywhere else.

Start a free 14-day trial for your family today and make the summer even more fun!

Want to Make a Quick Buck? Try SwagBucks!

Want to make a quick buck? (or six?)

Then it’s time to try Swagbucks! Just in time for April showers, Swagbucks has announced a “Three Pour All” promotion where you can get a $3 (300 SB) Bonus just for signing up through our site and earning your first 300 SB. So open up your umbrella (not in the house!) and put on your slicker and galoshes because it’s about to pour 300 SB Bonuses for you and your family and friends.

New to Swagbucks? Great! It’s a site where you earn free gift cards for the things you already do online. You get points (called SB) and redeem them for PayPal or Visa cash and gift cards from Amazon, Walmart, Target and other great retailers. Here’s how to earn your 300 SB in an hour:


  1. Sign up for free through this link

  2. Watch a few short clips from Top Sports Headlines, World New Headlines, cooking shows, and the Latest from TMZ and earn 26 SB

  3. Take a 5 minute survey for 60 SB and a 13 minute survey for 100 SB. Even if you get DQ’d, you get paid up to five times for a total of 5 SB.

  4. Print a $1 Off Flintstone’s Vitamin Coupon and earn 25 SB

  5. Enter an AARP Sweepstakes and earn 40 SB

  6. Click through entertainment-focused web content with NCrave for 20 minutes and earn 20 SB.

  7. Install the Hulu App on your phone and earn 24 SB.

That’s it! You’ve just earned 300 SB (worth $3 on its own) and you’ll get a $3 Bonus for your effort!

Already a Swagbucks member? Here’s how to get your $3 Bonus:


  1. Refer a friend to Swagbucks between Monday, April 4th and Saturday, April 30th

  2. Your referral earns 300 SB by April 30th (see above!)

  3. You AND your referral will both be awarded an additional 300 SB each

That’s it! (the 300 SB bonuses will credit by May 5th) So once again, starting today, send out those referrals, a 300 SB Bonus could come in handy for a rainy day!


What does all this mean?  For us, it means Amazon gift cards and restaurant gift cards and that brand-new vacuum cleaner I got for $17 – all because of SwagBucks.  Read more about our SwagBucks journey here.


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A Little R & R

Spanish Success with FLFK + a SALE!

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We’ve been using Foreign Language for Kids for our Spanish curriculum since the beginning of the school year.  We watch the videos during breakfast, and a few weeks ago we received print curriculum, stickers, and games in the mail.

The kids haven’t stopped asking to play with those new materials since.

My Little Man still shouts along with certain repetitive parts of the videos.  He loves them as much as ever – but both kids are enthralled with the games.  They love the idea that we can ‘play’ for school, even though we do lots of unusual things in the name of education.

Spanish Success with FLFK @ A Nest in the Rocks

They love it so much that when the day gets crazy, they’re excited to ‘play Spanish’ after bath time.  Just before bedtime.  In their PJs.

Spanish Success with FLFK @ A Nest in the Rocks

Does it work? 


The kids continue to randomly mix in their new Spanish words with their English ones.

They get excited when they hear Spanish being spoken in public.

They’re remembering their vocabulary words, they’re playing the games successfully, and they’re happy about all of it.

That’s success to me.

Best of all, Foreign Languages for Kids is running a huge 40% off sale right now!  This Spanish program is so much fun and only takes about 5 minutes out of your day! Offer ends on Nov. 30th! Don’t forget to share with a friend!  Use code TOSbeginner to get your discount.

How do you teach foreign languages?



NEW See the Light Art Special

Christmas Special - 10% off all SEE THE LIGHT products + FREE SHIPPING in U.S.A. - Offer Expires 12-15-2015

We LOVE See the Light products, and so I’m super excited to share this with you.  See the Light is running a special now – all the way through mid-December!  For this limited time only, STL is giving you 10% off all products + free shipping in the USA with the code CHRISTMAS.

STL specials rarely encompass all of their products, which makes this really exciting.  I’m going to be combing the pages, deciding which products we need to add to our collection.

See the Light products are clearly explained.  They provide multiple types of art instruction and levels of difficulty for a range of ages and abilities.  One of my favorite aspects is the Christian lessons.  Pat Knepley, master artist, provides a clear and concise devotional related to each Art Class lesson, and many of the other projects feature Christian scenes or stories.  I love the way that this company combines faith and art.

If you’re in the market for art instruction, give See the Light a try. 

Great Foreign Languages for Kids Coupon Code!

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For the past 6 weeks, the kids and I have been studying Spanish using the Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids program.  After last year’s failed attempt to pick up some words in another language, I was quite apprehensive, but this … FLfKbK …. it’s GREAT!

In the first six weeks, I’m seeing huge strides in their language skills.  Not only are they learning the words taught in each video, but they’re picking up the complex grammar skills being taught, too.  They’re using the words they know throughout the day, sometimes spitting out simple sentences in a hodgepodge of English and Spanish.  What’s even better is that they’re starting to create their OWN sentences using the Spanish words they’ve learned!  They continue to substitute the Spanish word for the English one where they know it, but I’m now hearing those same words used in new ways, with new English phrases around it.  They’re getting super comfortable with the Spanish they know!

A few weeks ago our package of printed materials arrived.  We received flash cards, a teacher’s guide, stickers, and even an indoor basketball set!  The kids ask several times each week if we can play Spanish games with these supplies, and they’ve been making up their own, too.

I continue to be very impressed with this program.  It’s easy to use, takes very little time, is fun for kids, and makes a big impact.  If you’re looking for a Spanish program that your kids will want to use, give Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids a try – and if you make your purchase by October 18, you can use the code FUN20OFF to receive 20% off your year’s subscription. 

*I received a free subscription to this program in exchange for an honest review.  I’m happy to answer any questions that I can – feel free to leave’em in the comments – because we’re big fans!

Receive FREE Stuff from Amazon’s New Review Program!

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If you’ve been a reader here for any length of time, you know that I enjoy reviewing products.  It’s a great way to check out something new without shelling out a lot of money for something that (might) not be a great fit for you. 

Register for Reviewsio @ A Nest in the Rocks

That’s why I’m excited about Amazon’s new review program.  Registered users have the chance to try out new products in exchange for an honest review – for FREE!

Reviewsio isn’t launching until October 1st, but it’s open for registration now.    Check it out and get your application in!

Who couldn’t use free stuff from Amazon?