Thanksgiving STEM Challenges
Fall, Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool

10 Thanksgiving STEM Challenges

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Feeling a little burnt out from homeschooling with the days leading up to Thanksgiving? Don’t want the kids sitting in front of the television for hours while they are home from school? Don’t worry, this the perfect time to change up the norm and give your kids a few Thanksgiving STEM Challenges.

Why STEM Challenges?

STEM Challenges (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are an excellent way to integrate various learning skills and styles into one activity. They also work well when you are working with multiple ages/grades simultaneously or when you want to get your kiddos from in front of electronics.

Thanksgiving STEM Challenges

Introducing STEM

When I was growing up, we made it our best effort to stay out of sight on the days leading up to Thanksgiving and especially on Thanksgiving Day as our mother was hustling and bustling about preparing for dinner that evening. We resorted to watching the classic Thanksgiving Cartoons and the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At this point, most kids are familiar with the term, STEM. The question is, “how do you get your kids to willingly do a STEM challenge when they are off from school?” My best technique for getting my kids to do work (I mean have fun) over the holidays is creating a STEM Exploration BasketsThe basket consists of various items that can be used to build and create such as popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, balloons, toothpicks, and more. I also include the directions to each activity that explains a variety of challenges for the kids to complete. Task Cards are great for providing both guidance to complete a task and independence for kids to explore. Check out items for your Exploration Baskets and grab three Task Cards below!


Finding STEM Challenges

Finding STEM challenges is super easy. The internet is filled with STEM challenges for all reasons and seasons. Take a look at these 10 Thanksgiving themed STEM Challenges to get your kids exploring!

Candy Corn Catapults–  Great way to use up the candy corn and get their minds moving. 

Hand Turkey Geometry – Sneak in a little math over the holidays with this classic hand trace activity

Butter in a Jar What a great way for the kids to help get things ready for Thanksgiving and learn a little science.

Taste-Safe Cranberry Slime Find out what happens when you mix the fun of slime and yummy cranberry sauce in this slime-tastic stem activity.

Turkey Balloon Rockets The stem challenge is a great activity for all your kiddos regardless of age.

Easy Fall Sink or Float Your littlest scientist will enjoy making hypothesis and experimenting to see which of their items sink or float.

Turkey Egg Drop– a fun twist to the classic egg drop is a great way to keep the kids busy while dinner is cooking.

Turkey Lego Build Lego’s are a great way to keep the kids thinking and engaged for hours. Toss in a turkey and you will have them building for ever!

Candy Pumpkin Buildings Explore engineering strategies using these tasty treats and see how strong your structure is.

Thanksgiving Dinner Table Who knew paper could be so strong? Test your building skills to see if your dinner table is ready for your feast!


I hope you enjoy these STEM Challenges. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful day to come together and reflect on the past and look to the future!

CHIME IN: Do you have any other STEM Challenges or ideas to keep the kids engaged?

Click the link to grab some items for a STEM Exploration Baskets

>>Download STEM Exploration Basket Task Cards Here<<


Looking for a way to introduce your kids to Random Acts of Kindness?

Fall, Freebies!, Homeschool



As the season is changing, so is the energy level of my kiddos. It seems every year when November rolls in, my kids begin to anticipate the holiday season and try to slack off of their work. This year, I made a decision to be prepared! I have created a variety of Fall Writing Prompts and activities to complete when the days get a little bit chaotic or I notice their attention span fading.

After completing my Review of Evan-Moor Daily 6-Trait Writing, I know I need to make writing a priority in our studies. These fun and engaging Fall Writing Prompts will give my children a change of pace over the month of November. I think they will be a great way to incorporate the techniques and skills learned in our writing workshop.

The Fall Writing Pack comes with:

  • 2 write and draw activities for younger children
  • 1 “I am Thankful for…” writing prompt for younger and older children
  • 1 Blessings Worksheet
  • 4 Story Starters
  • 1 Cinquain Poem Activity

Take a Peek


It really is my hope that as my kids work through these writing prompts they will not only develop their writing skills, but will also begin to think about some of the things they are thankful for. We also plan to use these activities in conjunction with the Random Acts of Kindness Calendar.

Head over and grab your copy!



Are you also looking for some fun, hands on activities for your little ones?

Click the picture below to snag some FUN Fall Learning Activities for the preschool and kindergarten kiddos.



Take a look at some fun Fall Activities & Books on Amazon!




Fall, Freebies!, Homeschool

FREE Random Acts of Kindness Calendar

Random Acts of Kindness Begins

Last night I abruptly woke from my sleep after finally dozing off only minutes before. The realization that November was finally here shook me to the core. As much as I absolutely love this time of year, the realization that the year is almost over had me thinking of all of the things I still needed to accomplish. For the past few years, our family has made it a point to incorporate service learning into our home school. (Read more about how in my guest post here).

This year, we decided November would be a time for our children to make their large scale service ideas a little more intimate. My husband and I decided we would create a calendar with 30 Random Acts of Kindness for our children to complete throughout the month.



Having a large home school family can sometimes lead to the kids getting easily frustrated with one another. There is often constant bickering and arguing over the smallest things. It is our hope that this Random Acts of Kindness Calendar will give our children a chance to find ways to love on one another, as well as, spread kindness in the world around them. Each act included on the calendar is something that even our younger children can take part in. We really are looking forward to a great month!


We hope you enjoy!

Christel “Chaos Coordinator”


How does your family incorporate random acts of kindness?

What random acts of kindness should we add to the calendar next year?



Do you have little one? Check Out Our Fall FREEBIES!






Evan-Moor Daily 6 Writing Trait
Fall, Freebies!, Homeschool, Review

Review: Daily 6-Trait Writing (Homeschool Writing Tips)

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links use cookies to track clicks and qualifying purchases for earnings. Please read my Disclosure Policy, Terms of Service, and Privacy policy for specific details.


“Where is this story going?”

“Your essay doesn’t sound like a 7th grader.”

“You have way too many topics in this narrative.”

Within two weeks of our 4th year of homeschooling, I found myself completely frustrated at the quality of writing samples my 7th graders were producing. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Then it hit me! I realized we had spent a tremendous amount of time on core subject, such as math, reading, science, and history, but failed to integrate formal writing skills and techniques into our academic studies. My oldest children became reluctant writers and were now not strong writers. I wanted to find a gentle way to develop their skills without bringing added stress to them or me.

In my search for writing curricula, I came across many outstanding programs. However, as a large family, cost was something that had to factor in my decision. I was given the opportunity to review Evan-Moor Daily 6-Trait Writing Grade 7 Teacher’s Edition (e-book). It ended up being the perfect fit for our family!



What is Evan-Moor?

Evan-Moor was conceived in 1979 by two friends and colleagues. Joy Evans and Jo Ellen Moore, who desired to create educational materials for struggling students in their classroom. After being rejected by several publishers, they decided to independently publish their first six titles and eventually begin their own publishing company. Their passion for quality and affordable educational resources has led to over 500 titles, as well as digital resources, e-books, center kits, RTI resources, and an interactive learning platform for 1:1 learning model.


A Little About Daily 6-Trait Writing

Before receiving a copy of this book, I was stumped on how I would incorporate another subject into our school day and had no idea when I would find time to plan the lessons for my 7th graders. Upon opening my e-book, I was delighted.

Daily 6-Trait Writing is comprised of:

  • 25 weeks of mini lessons divided into 5 units.
  • 5 lessons/unit that build upon the previous lesson. The units focus on the essential writing traits, Ideas, Organization, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Voice.
  • Consistent weekly format for each lesson that focuses on 4 days of a specific skill within the trait and a writing prompt on the 5th
  • Detailed and well written lesson plans to explain each writing trait
  • A Scoring Rubric to give teachers and students clear guidelines on writing expectations.




How We Used Daily 6-Trait Writing

I decided the best way to introduce writing to my children was to allot time for a writing workshop in our home school schedule. I scheduled 20 minutes of instructional time 4 days a week. Using the scripted lesson plans, I was able to go over each section of the lesson for the day with my children. I also used this time to give them a chance to ask questions and collaborate with one another. I found this set up, reduced the amount of anxiety they had over writing. They were able to share ideas and thoughts with one another, which helped strengthen their skills.

We also made sure we went over the assigned page at the end of each writing workshop. This was done to help me make sure my children really grasped the concept taught.

Having only a 4-day school week, I thought my children would never complete the Day 5 Writing Prompt. To my surprise, they eagerly made their corrections and turned in their work on our scheduled Exploration Day.

Incorporating Younger Students

Somewhere around the 3rd week of reviewing the materials, I decided to incorporate my 4th grader in our writing workshop. Although we did not have a copy of the 4th grade Daily 6-Trait Writing. I felt he would benefit from the same consistent format the material provided. I managed to adapt some of the questions for him in advance. The well thought out lesson plans and easy to follow student pages made this transition a seamless process. I did, however, allow my 4th grader to verbally respond to several answers during our writing workshop. To my surprise, this had very little impact on his final writing sample.


A Few Last Thoughts!

I always was familiar with Evan-Moor products but never took time to see if they were a fit for my family.  I found the Daily 6-Trait Writing to be an excellent resource and tool to develop and strengthen my children’s writing skills. In addition, being able to have an open and go format and a scoring rubric for assignments made me feel more confident when teaching my children. It also gave my children a well-defined guide when writing. As a mommy who lesson plans from the bed sometimes, having an e-book format made planning so much easier.

Daily 6-Trait Writing was such a blessing to be able to review and incorporate in our school. I am looking forward to continuing this program throughout the year!

Check back HERE to stay updated!



What steps have you taken to incorporate writing skills into your home school?



Looking for a way to keep the kids engaged?

Try The Never Bored Kid Book Series

The Never-Bored Kid Book, Grades 3-4 - Activity Book

Yours Truly,

Christel “Chaos Coordinator’



Fall, Freebies!, Homeschool

Fall Freebies for Preschool and Kindergarten!

These Fall Freebies are a great way to help your little learner gain valuable skills.


Pumpkin Alphabet Match is a hands on matching game that helps little ones work on uppercase and lowercase recognition.

>>>> Download Pumpkin Alphabet Match <<<<




Pumpkin Count is a self-paced board game that focuses on number and number word recognition. 

>>>> Download Pumpkin Count <<<<


Looking for literacy activities for older kiddos? Click the picture below!

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Seeing “Me” In Learning

About a year ago, a friend gave me the book Heroes in Black History by Dave & Neta Jackson. I decided at dinner one evening, I would ask my children if they knew of some of the Heroes. To my surprise, they only knew four of the thirteen African Americans listed.

My heart sank and I realized that my children were missing a crucial piece to their education. Of course, I was teaching them the basics, math, reading, writing, science and history, but I failed to teach them about themselves. My children were unable to see the “me” in learning.

Why it Matters?

In November 2015, then sixth grader, Marley Dias launched 1,000 Black Girl Books after complaining to her mother that her mandatory reading was about white boys and dogs. She felt that none of the books she read represented her. Marley realized there was a lack of material that was integrated into her education which depicted Black female protagonist. She realized that she could not “see herself.”

Look around your home and at your learning materials. When you survey the books, worksheets, and games for your children, do the characters or culture in those materials resemble your children or their heritage?

If the answer is, “no,” then it is time to take a step back, reassess, and make some changes. Imagine the main character of your child’s required reading looks like them. Children who can “see themselves” in their learning material develop a higher level of self-esteem and self-image.

They can relate to the characters and can envision themselves as the character. Imagine the confidence a child feels when they see themselves as the hero or heroine of a story. Integrating culturally appropriate materials and images into a child’s daily learning will positively impact their academic skill set.

Want to learn how to integrate representation into your child’s education?

Head over to With The Huddlestons to learn how!


Check out our Subscriber Freebies and our Shop for some fun hands on activities!


Family, Homeschool, Organization

How to Rock Your Meal Planning

The dreaded phrase: Meal Planning!

Meal Planning for my family is hard work!. My husband, 8 children, and myself all have extremely different taste buds. I was exhausted after planning our meals for the week. Between taste preferences, severe allergies, and making sure meals were healthy, I felt like we were eating the same foods over and over again.

A while back, I knew it was time to come up with a solution for our house. I decided that I did not want to be limited to just the things that I “knew” how to cook, but I also wanted to begin to explore new foods. I knew before I began adding to our meal list, I needed to write down all of my family’s favorite meals. You won’t believe it, but I went straight old school. I wrote each meal on an index card. By the time I was done, I had 30 index cards.  Each time I decided to make our meal plan for the week, I took out the cards and selected 7. I wrote them down on a piece of paper and then took the list to the store. Can I just say, this process was a true nightmare? I had tiny index cards all over the place. I knew this wasn’t the best system, but for a while it worked.

Needless to say, my anxiety got the best of me and I no longer could stand this system. I still felt like we were eating the same thing. Some how, I was still selecting the same few recipes every few weeks. Then it hit me! I decided to take each of our meals and break them down into categories, beef meals, chicken meals, pasta/turkey/pork meals, seafood meals, slow cooker/freezer meals, and fun Friday meals. Once again, I took out my little index cards and sorted them according to their category. I decided that each day of the week, we would have a different category of food. I created a meal plan that allowed us to have a different meal each day for four weeks.

The birth of an 8 week meal plan!

I challenged myself to come up with 8 meals under the six categories (I doubled our beef meals) for a total of 56 meals. I enlisted the help of my hubby and kids. We sat down, selected our favorite meals, and even created a Pinterest board for new ideas. Ya’ll, we created an 8 week meal plan. It was amazing! Each week, I would just select something from one of the categories and add it to the list. I could decide meals based on supermarket sales and even how our weekly schedule was looking. I thought I found the magic solution.

In comes Organize Your Life With Trello

After thinking meal planning could not get any easier, I saw a post over at A Purpose Driven Mom about being a Beta Tester for a new online course that would help Organize My Life!! As a work at home mom, homeschooling mommy, Director of a non-profit, and wife, I am always down for anything that helps organize my life. I signed up for the course and the way I look at organization has changed forever.

Trello is an online tool that allows me to have my meal plans, task, and daily planner at my finger tips. I decided the first area I would test out this course was in the area that I needed it the most, Meal Planning. I figure the best way for me to get you to see how this program has revolutionized how I meal plan is for me to show you. So check out my video below:


Now tell me that is not awesome!! In less than 5 minutes, I am able to create our meal plan for 8 weeks and create a grocery list to go with it. I no longer have to carry around my little tiny index cards or even a paper with our meals on it. Since Trello is also an app, I am able to take my phone into the store and grocery shop with ease.

More than Meals!

I know you might be thinking, “O.K. great you can plan your meals, but what else?” For the record, I have now begun to use Trello for multiple areas of my daily life. I have a board for Perfectly Blended and Blessed, our daily chores, and I am even working on one for my kid’s to use for as their home school planner. Don’t think Organize Your Life with Trello is all that big of a deal? I invite you to take a FREE Mini Class. Take some time look around and see for yourself and when you sign up for the course (which I know you will), come back here, click on Meal Plan to copy my board to get you started. Also, download this Ultimate List of Trello Boards (freebie)



Chime In: How do YOU Rock Your Meal Planning?

Family, Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool

Listen So Your Kids Will Talk: Back to School Conversation Starters

Over the past few weeks, I have spent countless hours preparing for the upcoming year. I created a home school planner to keep me organized, research and purchased our curriculum, battled the stores to find school supplies, created a file folder system, and even managed to be a Beta Tester for this amazing course called, Organize Your Life with Trello (which truly changed the way I look at organization). Raise your hand if you can relate. It doesn’t matter if your child is in traditional school or home school, it is easy to forget the importance of Back to School Conversations.

What is the point of designating time for Back to School Conversations?

Back to School Conversations are an excellent way to get a handle on the direction and goals for the upcoming school year. It sets up a dialogue between parents and children and creates an avenue for families to create tangible plans and task before the school year even begins. These conversations aren’t just for older kids, even your preschooler has thoughts about their school experience.

You may be saying to yourself, “…but we homeschool. I know my child’s plans because I created them.” The fact is, Back to School Conversations gives your child voice in the planning. It gives them the floor to express their likes and dislikes and lets you witness them maturing before your eyes.

If your child is in a traditional school setting (like my older children) or if you are homeschooling your child (like the rest of my squad), taking time to have an intentional conversation about school should be at the top of your to-do list before the year officially begins.

So, how do you get started? Check out these Tips for a great conversation.


Before you embark on connecting with your child, parents should take time to pray for guidance. Raising children is something that I don’t take lightly. I see it as a huge God-given privilege and feel the only way to be successful is to seek Him for wisdom and guidance. I want our conversation to run smoothly and have God at the center is the key. The best way for me to accomplish that, is seeking Him first.

Make an Announcement

I am notorious for having impromptu, super deep conversations with my children after dinner, while driving home, shopping in the grocery store, or just hanging out in the living room. Some of our fondest memories are from these moments.

Over the years, I found Back to School Conversations worked best, when I informed my kids of the meeting and told them the purpose upfront. Making an Announcement gives kids a chance to also prepare for the meeting and think of any questions or concerns they want to bring to the table.

Make it Special

Back to School Conversations are a great time for a heart to heart with each child. This intentional conversation is one that should be well thought out and made special. In fact, it can be turned into a yearly event the kids look forward to. Select a place that will lend to minimum interruptions. Depending on your family dynamics, a one-on-one over ice cream in the yard might be perfect. Perhaps, dinner at your child’s favorite restaurant or a picnic in the park will work best. Whatever the location, the most important thing to remember is having a candid and open conversation with your child.

Open the Lines of Conversation

When you ask your child for their opinions or feelings, are you genuinely seeking their input? Back to School Conversations are meant to be a time where your child has your undivided attention and your unbiased listening ears. Although the conversation is designed for you to get them excited and ready for a new year, it is also a time where you can really connect with your child and develop a stronger relationship. Our family likes to begin by seeking God and asking Him to guide the conversation and end by asking Him to cover us throughout the year.

Back to School Conversations gives children a designated time to spend with you before the hustle and bustle of school begins. It allows you to praise their strong points and assess their weaknesses. Don’t be surprised when your kids open-up and tell you what is really on their heart. They have been waiting for this moment!

Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is designed to give families a tool to implement upfront and honest dialogue about the upcoming school year. Filled with journal pages, 15 suggested open-ended questions, 25 questions to ask your child at the end of each school day, and a few Bonus Lunch Notes, Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is a perfect book to get you ready for Back to School!

Download Your Copy Today!


 Now that you’ve gotten some great tips and resources about Back to School Conversations, head over to

Michelle at With the Huddlestons

and read about Ideas for Homeschooling Multiples, and be sure to snag her freebie – Activity Printable Bundle




Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool, Organization

FREE Home School Planner!

Can you believe summer is almost over?

Home school Planning for the upcoming school year is in full force in our home and my kids are already bummed that it is August. For the record, I am not a naturally organized person. However, disorganization causes me great stress and anxiety. Go figure! You would think being a mother of eight children would give me some sort of organization super power.

Organizing materials for the upcoming school year is by far one of my greatest challenges. I spend countless hours preparing and planning, all to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. Organizing our school for this Chaos Coordinator and naturally unorganized mom is accomplished using my Sanity Savers for Home school Planning.


Take Time to Investigate

Being responsible for the education of my children is not something I take lightly. Most home school parents are often questioned about their ability to teach their own children. I even had well-meaning family members attempt to quiz my children on the spot, just to see what they knew. Being the child of an educator and having worked in the education field for almost 20 years, I am adamant about making sure my children are getting a well-rounded education. As you plan your year Take Time to Investigate. There are so many options available! Read the scope and sequence, take a sample lesson, speak with other parents and read published reviews. Don’t be afraid to select material from different publishers and authors. This year we have incorporated material from long-standing Christian publishers all the way to easy to incorporate resources from Evan-Moore like the Teacher File Box.

Get the Kids Involved

Homeschooling multiple children on different grade levels and abilities can become quite tricky. Each one of my children, including my twins, have a very different learning style and extremely different interest. When planning for the year, I always take time to check in and ask my kids what they are interested in exploring and learning during the school year. Giving your kids a voice in their school year empowers them and gives them a sense of ownership of what they are learning. Getting the kids involved doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Even more, simple conversations over breakfast, during a drive in the car, or before bed is all it takes to pick their brains and give you insight into their world.


Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

As the QUEEN OF PROCRASTINATION, this Sanity Saver was something that I had to learn the hard way. At the start of last school year, my 1-year-old son was hospitalized because of his Chronic Medical Condition. This unexpected event significantly impacted our home school because I was drastically unprepared. Before school began, I only planned for the first few weeks of school. I figured I would have enough time to get lesson plans done, material ordered, and copies made. During our hospital stay and the subsequent weeks after coming back home, my children were barely getting any school work done because I did not have time to even think about lesson planning. One major Sanity Saver for Home School Planning is to Start Early! Use your down time to begin researching curricula and checking in with your children to see what is and is not working.


Use FREE/Low Cost Planning resources

As a large family momma, I have come to appreciate the beauty of FREE! I am all about finding a good resource or item at a low cost or free. When preparing for the year, it took me awhile to find planning tools that fit my many needs and style. As a blended family dealing with some High Power Blending, our children’s schedule varies because of visitation schedules. We have found that a four-day school week is the best option for us.  The fifth day serves as a catch all to complete anything that was not completed, possibly because of the visitation schedule.

Incorporating Circuit Learning into our home school has opened the door to our children exploring interest not covered in their core courses. Courses such as puppetry, coding, sewing, woodworking, animation and more are added to their weekly list. Circuit Learning essentially allows my children to select three areas of interest to explore for a pre-determined time.  Once selected, they rotate through each interest area during the week after all core work has been completed.

This year, I decided to utilize the File Folder System to organize our materials. I purchased a simple binder, dividers, hanging file folders, and manila folders.

Check out a short video on how I use the File Folder System!


I have created The Chaos Coordinator’s Homeschool Planner. This amazing FREE printable home school planner provides you with simple planning pages to get you ready for the year.



The last thing I did to organize and plan for the upcoming year was participate in a course that seriously changed the way I look at organization.  Organize Your Life with Trello totally helped me create a system that got rid of all my little sticky notes and journals, ditched my paper clutter, and left me with my task list at the tips of my fingers. Click the picture to check out the mini class! You will LOVE it!


No matter if you are new to homeschooling or not, planning is important to a successful year. So Chime In:

 What are you doing to plan for the upcoming school year?

Service Learning
Family, Guest Post, Homeschool

4 Reasons Service Learning Beats the Summer Slide

Over the years, our family has made a point to spend our summers engaged in vacations, camps, and light school work to prevent the infamous Summer Slide.  As a former overnight Camp Director, I would find the best camps for my children to ensure they walked away with amazing memories and experiences.Three years ago, my husband and I decided to throw away our familiar summer strategy and take on a new adventure. We loaded up our van and created a mini camp of our own!  We enlisted the help of our older children to serve as counselors and decided to help create amazing memories for 15 children from under-served neighborhoods. It was at this moment, we decided we would strengthen our own children’s natural gifts and abilities, prevent the summer slide and enrich the community around us using Service Learning.

Service Learning Vs. Community Service?

One day, your family is driving down the street. On the corner, there is a homeless man asking for food. Your child reaches into their backpack, takes out their sandwich, and hands it to the man. That night at dinner, your child asks to collect snacks for homeless people and take them to a homeless shelter. You are delighted to see the compassion and love in your child’s heart and eagerly get started. Before you know it, your family has collected over 500 snacks. You load them in the car, drive to a homeless shelter and your child drops them off. They walk away thrilled and excited that they were able to help someone in need.

Community Service is the act of helping others and can be done at any time and any place. The emphasis is placed on the people being helped and the service that is offered. Community Service is designed to impact or improve the quality of life for those being served.

Service LearningClick Here to Find Out More @ With the Huddlestons


Continue reading “4 Reasons Service Learning Beats the Summer Slide”