Homeschooling Artists and Crafters Spotlight: Sally's Retro Christmas Wreaths

Homeschool mom Sally of Shabby Shimmer Christmas first saw a glass ornament wreath tutorial at Retro Renovation and decided to give it a try. Fast forward a couple of years later and she's made over a hundred Christmas ornament wreaths and has also ventured into making putz houses (also known as little glitter houses).

Homeschooling Artists and Crafters Spolight: Annalise Joy's Carved Art

Homeschool mom and wood carving artist Annalise Joy creates hand carved ornaments, wall hangings, and hard bound books. Her carved art is available for purchase from her website.

Annalise learned chip carving by apprenticing with a Los Angeles based artist in the early 2000s. Her carved art was recently featured at West Elm in Green Hills. Be sure to visit to view the many options for unique and exquisite Christmas gifts. Here are a few of her beautiful creations:

Educator Holiday Savings at Barnes & Noble Cool Springs This Saturday

On Saturday, December 3, 2016, all day Barnes & Noble Cool Springs has created a special day of shopping, savings and personalized service just for PreK through 12th grade educators.
  • We invite you to use your Barnes & Noble Educator Discount Card to take advantage of a special 25%* discount on books, toys & games, music, movies and 10% discount on café consumables at our annual Holiday Educator Shopping Event. We are also offering 10% off on select NOOK devices* and tech tools.

Homeschooling Artists and Crafters Spolight: Rachel's Bookmarks

Homeschool student Rachel E. creates beautiful handmade string and bead bookmarks. She started making the bookmarks about two years ago and began selling them at yard sales. The bookmarks became so popular, she now sells them online as well. 

Calling all homeschooling artists and crafters!

Hey happy homeschoolers! Over the holidays we will be featuring homeschoolers (parents or students) who create and sell their creations.

Do you knit, bake, carve, paint, candle-make? Contact us and we will feature your wares and let the Williamson County homeschool community know how they can order your special creations just in time for Christmas.

Contact us through the Contact Form on the left sidebar and we will be in touch shortly. 

Not a crafter? Subscribe to this blog so you can keep up with the offerings from your local homeschool community. Know a crafter who should be featured on Send them the link to this post and let them know about the fun opportunity!

Set Reading Goals with Book Adventure

When you have a child who would rather wash dishes than read a book, coming up with creative ways to encourage their interest in reading becomes an ongoing task for you as a parent. Although there is no quick fix for a struggling or unmotivated reader, Book Adventure by Sylvan Learning comes close to being a key to helping your child move in the right direction.

Book Adventure is a free, online resource for parents and teachers to use to encourage reading in their student. The program is geared towards children in kindergarten through eighth grades. Book Adventure provides

Creative and Fun Nature and Art Challenges for Your Child

Do you have children who love spending hours upon hours outdoors enjoying the wonders God has created? Do you have sketch artists who write on anything that is blank? Well, whether you answered yes or no to those two questions, one or both of these challenges may interest your child and provide a fun and new addition to your curriculum for the school year. These fun art and nature opportunities are free to participate in and may be done from the comfort of home or by just stepping outside. They are also for all ages, from toddlers to adults.
Outdoor Nature Hour
Barb, a homechool mother of four, started the Handbook of Nature Study blog to record and share the nature studies she and her children did using the book Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. What started as a simple way to archive their studies has grown into a wonderful resource for homeschool families as they pursue a nature study in their classrooms.

Through what she calls “nature challenges,” Barb has created a free study using the book Handbook of Nature Study as a resource, which you can go through with your children to learn about the great outdoors during anytime of the year. There are more than 50 challenges available. Although they are designed to use in any order you choose because of the different climates participants live in, you may want to at least start here and follow through in order with the first couple of challenges just to have a sense of how everything flows.

Sketch Tuesday
Calling all sketchers, children and adults. Yes, adults may participate too in this weekly art assignment, which gives you the opportunity to create through drawing. Sketch Tuesday is another creative idea from Barb, who is also known as Harmony Art Mom from her website Harmony Fine Arts where she offers art and music appreciation curriculum.

Jennifer Smeltser writes for HomeLife Academy blog. HomeLife Academy is an official private school serving thousands of home educators. For more of Jennifer's articles, visit the Homeschool Roster.

Special Open House for Homeschool Educators at Barnes & Noble Cool Springs

Join us in Wednesday October 12th 1:30pm-3:00pm for a special Open House for Homeschool Educators. There will be information on Shell Education’s Cultural Responsiveness Learning Program and live demos of the latest in maker –themed tech tools featuring coding, 3D printing and STEAM learning.

Barnes & Noble Cool Springs Educator Appreciation Days: October 8th – 16th
Pre-K though Grade 12 Educators Save in Store
25% off list price Books, Toys, Games, Music, Movies & More*
10% off list price Café Consumables and Select NOOK Devices*

*Certain restrictions apply.

Guitar Lessons in Franklin Tennessee

Marty Keith of Edenbrooke Music has openings for new music students. You can choose from guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, songwriting, and stage performance lessons. A homeschool dad himself, Marty has been working with dozens of homeschool students for over 8 years. Marty is located in Franklin, but offers an online lesson option for students. He also offers first lesson free. Call him at 615.415.1942 or email him at johnmartinkeith at hotmail dot com.

Heat Is Accepting Players for High School Girls Basketball Team

The Tennessee HEAT is an organization of Christian homeschooled families prayerfully established to encourage and support the teaching of Christian values and the building of Christian character through participation in Christ-centered extracurricular activities related to athletics.

We are committed to offering competitive athletics for homeschooled athletes located in Middle Tennessee. Our prayer is that our Heat athletes and fellow homeschooled students can develop friendships, camaraderie, team/school spirit, and life lessons through the platform of athletics.  We strive to be competitive and Christ centered in all that we do. Our coaches will be encouraging to our athletes and build them up, not tear them down. We want to be known for our competitive teams, encouraging presence, enthusiastic supporters and positive behavior.

The Heat plays a competitive schedule in the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference comprised of private schools and home school teams.

Practice starts October 4.

Contact Coach Jamie Bone 931-580-5855

Hide it in Your Heart Coloring Book by Annie Douglass Lima

More than just a coloring book, this inspirational activity book will help you relax, unwind, and enjoy some creative fun while hiding God’s Word in your heart. The 35 separate verses and passages are printed in colorable word art with decorative borders, blank on the back to make them easier to remove and frame or display, if desired. Each one is accompanied by two different activities or puzzles featuring the verse or key words from it.

Hide it in Your Heart is an ideal Scripture memorization aid for Christian schools, homeschool programs, Sunday schools, or your own personal use. Children and adults will enjoy learning, practicing, and meditating on these artistically presented verses from the New International Version Bible.

Proceeds from the sale of Hide it In Your Heart will be donated to to help provide a translation of God’s Word for a particular people group in East Asia who do not yet have the Bible in their own language.

Here is a sample coloring and activity pages from Hide it In Your Heart. If you'd like to color it or complete the word puzzles, click on the link to access a PDF that you can download and print.

Hide it In Your Heart is available in paperback on Amazon for $8.99. Happy coloring!

About the Author:
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published thirteen books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, five anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Scripture coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with Annie Douglass Lima online:




Introduce Your Children to Live Theatre

Do your homeschool children add drama to your life? Well, add some to their lives and take them to the theatre. The Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) has just the ticket for you and your homeschool children.
The Nashville Children’s Theatre has been entertaining audiences for more than 80 years. The productions over the years have been ones geared towards children, which has introduced many young people to fine arts in the form of live dramatic presentation. Ever since the theatre has been presenting student matinees during regular school hours, the audiences have grown in numbers. So many of the productions have been childhood favorites and have brought other book classics to life for the students.
This year, student audiences will enjoy five of the 2016-2017 season productions during the weekday school matinees. Those school students include homeschoolers too. The performances that are open this season include:
Afflicted: Daughters of Salem: Wednesday, September 28 at 1 p.m.
Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook: Wednesday, November 9 at 1 p.m.
Scot Copeland's Treasure Island: Wednesday, February 1 at 1 p.m.
And In This Corner: Cassius Clay: Wednesday, March 8 at 1 p.m.
Goodnight Moon: Wednesday, April 26 at 1 p.m.
Homeschoolers are invited to attend Homeschool Days at the NCT.  They may attend as a family or bring a group of homeschoolers and enjoy live theatre at its best. These productions are open to the public and offered at a reduced ticket price making it more affordable for people to attend. That is not only a benefit for larger families, but all families. We get to experience that same theatrical performance and all of the talent while keeping the drama on the stage (at least for a couple of hours).
If you would like to attend one or all of the upcoming productions at the NCT, you may purchase your tickets online, by calling (615) 252-4675 or at the NCT box office. The first performance is on Wednesday, September 28, of Afflicted: Daughters of Salem. Although you may purchase tickets at the door, I would suggest you purchase them in advance. Tickets for NCT homeschool performances sell fast.

Jennifer Smeltser writes for HomeLife Academy. HomeLife Academy is an official private school serving thousands of home educators. For more of Jennifer's articles, visit the Homeschool Roster.

Barnes & Noble Cool Springs Announces Pop-Up Shop in partnership with Make Nashville at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire

Barnes & Noble Cool Springs Announces Pop-Up Shop in partnership with Make Nashville at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire, September 17, 2016

Barnes & Noble Pop-Up Shop to Feature Products from Leading Vendors in Technology and Education in Addition to Make: Magazine

Presence at Maker Faire Nashville Highlights Barnes & Noble’s Ongoing Commitment to Promoting Tech Literacy in Local Communities Across America

Brentwood, TN – September 1, 2016 – Barnes & Noble Cool Springs today announced a pop-up shop at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire in partnership with Make Nashville on Saturday, September 17th which will feature products from leading vendors in technology and education including littleBits, Spin Master, Sphero and more. Barnes & Noble’s presence at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire highlights the company’s ongoing commitment to promoting tech literacy and raising awareness for the Maker Movement in local communities throughout the country, including Middle Tennessee.

The specific products featured at Barnes & Noble pop-up shop at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire will include Sphero BB 8 app controlled Droid from Orbotix, Inc., littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets from littleBits Electronics, 3Doodler Create from Aliquantum International, Inc., Ozobots from Evollve Inc., and so much more. To learn more about the merchandise that will be featured, customers should visit For a full list of products that will be available for purchase, customers should contact area Barnes & Noble stores and speak with a knowledgeable bookseller.

“Barnes & Noble Cool Springs is thrilled to partner with Make Nashville in having a presence at the Nashville Mini Maker Faire and to make available for purchase leading technology and educational products that are perfect for customers of all ages who have a desire to create, learn and share, and who bring a DIY mindset to technology,” says Robbie Bryan, Community Business Development Manager at Barnes & Noble Cool Springs. “We are proud to further Barnes & Noble’s commitment to promoting tech literacy and raising awareness for the Maker Movement within Middle Tennessee and we hope that our participation helps to inspire everyone to become a Maker and connect with people and projects in their local community.

The Nashville Mini Maker Faire will take place at Adventure Science Center at 800 Fort Negley Blvd. For more information, customers should contact the Adventure Science Center or visit

For information on Make Nashville visit

4th Annual Mother-Daughter Weekend at Deer Run Retreat

4th Annual Mother-Daughter Weekend at Deer Run Retreat

~ September 16-18, 2016 ~

A WEEKEND OF MEMORIES AND GROWING TOGETHER! This weekend provides opportunities for you to have fun, laugh, talk, and build a closer relationship with each other.


Devote time to building a deeper relationship with your daughter through this weekend experience where you will have fun, laugh, talk and enjoy activities together. The all-inclusive weekend includes mother-daughter yoga, archery & BB guns, climbing tower, giant swing, hiking, scavenger hunt, stargazing, nighttime wagon ride, campfire and lake time with kayaking, canoeing, fishing or relaxing on the beach. Creative crafts, a glow-night dance party and themed dress-up dinner add to your “forever” memories.

Guest speaker Rebekah Bullard (, Nashville Kids Pastor at Cross Point Church, will provide fresh insight and encouragement for moms and daughters. Additionally, moms enjoy a session together while girls spend time with college-age group leaders working on a special project.

Shared accommodations are available at The Lodge, Lakeview Cabins or Cedar Point Cabins. See lodging options:

This is an excellent weekend for extended family members such as grandmothers or aunts to enjoy time with their granddaughters or nieces.

Registration and info: or call 615.794.2918.

11th Annual Father-Son Adventure Weekend at Deer Run Retreat

A Life-Changing Bonding Experience & Some High-Powered Guy Stuff for all ages August 26-28, 2016.

Special lifelong memories are created when a dad spends a weekend with his son(s). Everything is planned for you (including meals) so you can just show up and enjoy your time together!

2016 Guest Speaker: Illusionist Brock Gill
He will amaze and entertain both you and your son with his unique stage show and message of hope and passion that speaks to all ages.

This weekend is planned for you and your son(s) to bond while you are having a great time playing together. Enjoy a variety of recreation choices: football challenges, wiffle ball home run derby, amateur fishing tournament, father-son project, archery target practice, BB guns, slingshots, sand volleyball, campfires, nighttime wagon ride plus lake swimming with waterslide, zip line, aqua park and canoes/kayaks.

You can also choose additional adventures like climbing tower, Leap of Faith, 3-D amateur archery tournament, giant swing and paintball (ages 9 & up).

Shared lodging accommodations at The Lodge, Lakeview Cabins or Cedar Point Cabins. See lodging options here. Or choose a campsite and enjoy pitching your own tent!

This is an excellent weekend for extended family members such as grandfathers or uncles to enjoy time with their grandsons or nephews.

Registration and info online or call 615.794.2918.

Take The Reins Equine Assisted Learning – Fall Farm Programs for Homeschoolers with Special Needs

Take The Reins
3636 Bear Creek Rd. Thompson’s Station, TN

Equine Assisted Learning – Fall Farm Programs
for Homeschoolers w/ special needs or challenges

Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a hands-on educational program that uses interactions and developing relationships between students and equines in an environment of learning and self-discovery. The barn and farm environment naturally lends itself as a unique multi-sensory classroom. Best of all…it’s fun!!

What does Take The Reins offer your children with special life challenges?
Our staff includes PATH Intl. dual credentialed professionals with years of experience in teaching social and life skills, academics, working with individuals with special needs and challenges, and partnering with equines.
Our equine team includes well trained horses, ponies, minis and donkeys, each offering their unique attraction and interactions.
Our learning accommodations - We provide a supportive educational environment. Our inclusive teaching strategies support all learning styles. Accommodations and modifications are utilized as needed to promote individual success. The classes include multiple processing opportunities, to insure that the students transfer the skills they learned and practiced with the equines, to their daily social and life situations.
Social Skills – Wednesdays 10 am – 12:00 Runs for 4 weeks starting 9/7
Weekly topics and skill areas include:
·       Reading Body Language
·       Understanding Social Cues
·       Personal Space and Boundaries
·       Teamwork

Life Skills - Thursdays 10 am – 12:00 Runs for 4 weeks starting 10/7            Weekly topics and skill areas include:
·       Making Good Decisions
·       Managing Your Environment - to increase comfort and have success
·       Self- Esteem
·       Leadership Skills
* Families are welcome to use the picnic area to stay and have lunch on the farm.

Both of the above 2 hour programs run for 4 weeks. Total cost of each is $80.

Academics on the Farm (monthly program)
Each month explores an academic subject through life on the farm and interactions with horses, ponies, minis and donkeys. Sample class: History – We will explore how ‘equines” have accompanied mankind throughout history. As we meet the horses and donkeys, ponies and minis at the farm, we will learn how their ancestors helped us hunt for food, fight in wars, provided transportation, and worked our farms. Mules and donkeys labored by our sides in many industries providing power and hauling. Equines even provided us with entertainments and sport. Even the pint size miniature horses had jobs to do. We will cover how horses helped us throughout history and then go back in time to ride in an old pony pulled wagon.
Family Values - Offered during school vacation weeks
This 2 hour program offers safe horse interactions and activities plus fun on the farm for everyone in the family. The program is designed to support and promote the family. Refer to our family program brochure for more information.
·       Recognizing and valuing each other’s strengths and talents
·       Learning to work together and have fun as a family
·       Fostering self-esteem and confidence in everyone
·       Exploring life on the farm and having a great time as a family.
Siblings Forever! - Offered during school vacation weeks
This 1.5 hour program offers siblings the opportunity to work and have fun together, learning that they each have unique strengths and talents that should be celebrated and shared. Refer to our family program brochure for more info.

Group Tailored Programs­
Mix and match any of the above programs and topics to best meet the needs and interests of everyone in your home school group! Upon group request, Christian faith-based components can be added to any of the above programs, to help the children explore & celebrate their values.

About Take The Reins: We are a 501c3 non-profit, PATH Intl. member center located on a peaceful farm at 3636 Bear Creek Rd. in Thompson’s Station, TN. To learn more about Take The Reins, visit our website at:

To learn more about the above Equine-Assisted Learning programs please contact: Susan Lutz at: or (978) 376-8062.

Free Demo Day for Homeschool P.E. Class

Register your child for a free demo class, allowing them to experience our LPG Sports Academy's Home School Program. They will enjoy socializing, learning sports skills and general fitness while having lots of fun! 

Home School Physical Education
Wednesday, August 24th
AGES 5-10
12pm-1pm OR 1pm-2pm
@ LPG Sports Academy

109 Rand Place #2
Franklin, TN

5 Ways To Celebrate Back-to-School

The return to school after the summer break can either be met with an “augh” or a “yippee”. Both are expressions that could come from either your child or you. The return to school can be one that is exciting as well as well anticipated if you create some unique and memorable ways transition into the new school year. Here are five ways to make back-to-school be oh-so-much-fun!
1. Take School Pictures
While the idea of taking school pictures may not seem unique, it can be for the homeschool student. Sure, we can go the traditional route and take a picture showing the serious and well behaved student, that will be sent to family and friends. That is way too easy. Let them dress up as their favorite character. They could also dress up as a historical figure or from the time period they will study about that school year. Another idea is allowing your child to take a “silly” picture or one that has a theme, like trains (conductor), princess, dinosaurs or other.
2. Take Notes 
This one will be fun for both you and your child. You can have them write basic information about themselves (ex: name, age and grade). The really fun part will be having some questions they can answer (ex: Who is your favorite music group?, What is your favorite snack food?, How would you spend $5,000 (or other dollar amount) and others? Your older child can answer the questions and also include their thoughts on what they enjoyed about their summer (or school break), their goals for the new school year, what they are looking forward to learning about and more. Once they are finished, it is your turn. You can write the goals you have that school year for your child. This is also an opportunity to write any memorable thoughts you have about your child. Do not allow such sweet memories to pass without documenting what you can. It will be fun to return at the end of the school year and read what every wrote.
3. Serve a Special Meal
Everyone loves to eat, so either whip up something special for your child or have him join you in the kitchen to prepare the special meal. The food you serve can be some favorite recipes. You can also decide on one special meal or dessert that you only serve for back-to-school (think Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner).
4. Take a Field Trip
I usually try to keep the first day close to home. As you know, once the school year begins, there are less crowds at those fun-to-go to-places. If there is somewhere you put off going to during the summer, because there are too many people, make plans to visit. Go to a museum, go see a movie, go skating or go to some special venue of choice.
5. Watch Them Grow
Let your child choose some seeds and plant them. Your child will be able to nurture a beautiful plant or flower during the school year, as you are nurturing them. They will blossom as will their plant with proper care.

How do you celebrate the first day of school or how have you celebrated it in the past?

Jennifer Smeltser writes for HomeLife Academy. HomeLife Academy is an official private school serving thousands of home educators. For more of Jennifer's articles, visit the Homeschool Roster.

Spend a Homeschool Day at the Nashville Zoo

Learning can happen anywhere and that includes the Nashville Zoo, which has created Homeschool Days just for you. There is more to see and do than visit with the animals. Although that is a lot of fun, children can also participate in a number of programs that are offered to homeschoolers. They are educational and fun and children, ages five to 14 years old, will enjoy them. 

Going Green
It is still fashionable and wise to “go green”. Students will learn about their personal impact on the environment with the choices they make. They will also learn ways to live a greener lifestyle and possibly be motivated to make some changes in that direction. This program is offered

Get Your Child Reading with Netflix

“Get Your Child Reading with Netflix” is certainly an odd title. After all, Netflix is used for streaming movies and television series. Where does the reading come in? This is where it gets interesting.

As you know, Netflix began as a DVD-by-mail service. To this day, almost 20 years after it was founded, it still offers DVD-by-mail. If you already use streaming services from Netflix, you may be aware of some of its educational offerings with documentaries and movies available for use in your school. What many people do not realize is the DVD library of Netflix has a number of movies that are not available through streaming. Many of those movies are titles of books we regularly assign our children to read for school.

If you are still lost, well, here you go. Do you want your child to read more? Consider bringing the book (story) to life with the reward of seeing the movie on the screen after they finish reading the book. If you have already created a list of “reading musts” your child should complete before the school year is over, check and see if some of those titles are available on DVD. Some children may

Make Plans to Attend the MTHEA Nashville Curriculum Fair

Are you new to homeschooling or want to see the latest in curricula offerings? The Middle Tennessee Home Education Association (MTHEA) has weekend plans for you at the MTHEA Nashville Curriculum Fair. The two-day event will be held Friday and Saturday, May 13-14, 2016 at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet vendors and learn about their curriculum, attend workshops and meet representatives from local companies that serve homeschoolers in Middle Tennessee.

Better Than Health Insurance? Christian Healthcare Ministries

Founded in 1981, Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) is the original health care sharing ministry for Christians. CHM is a nonprofit, voluntary cost-sharing ministry through which participating Christians meet each other’s medical bills. CHM members have shared more than $1 billion in medical bills. The ministry is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Christian Healthcare Ministries is not a health insurance company. It's a group of thousands of

7 Reasons to Provide a Summer Camp Experience for Your Child

No matter the age, whenever a conversation about summer camp comes up, those who have “been to camp” talk passionately about their experience of action-packed adventure, life-long friendships, testing their limits, unrestrained laughter and accomplishing new things. Summer camp provides a positive, encouraging environment where one can have fun without the peer pressure found elsewhere. If you are trying to decide about this being one of the options for your child this summer, consider the reasons why you would give the gift of camp to them.
1. Experiencing adventures and activities in a unique environment. A camp environment is unlike anywhere else. Your child will experience the dynamics of the outdoors with a diversity of kids, often in a small group — making this unlike a classroom or other small group participation. The activities are designed to challenge campers in an encouraging environment to help them grow exponentially in areas of self-confidence, independence, leadership, trust, friendship skills, social comfort, values and decision-making. A lot of positive change can happen in a week or two at camp.
2. Unplugging. At many traditional camps, like Deer Run Camps in Thompson’s Station, Tenn., kids and teens are able to unplug and leave the distractions of technology at home enabling them to connect face-to-face for an extended amount of time with other kids and young-adult role models. Being unplugged allows them to