How I Organize and Use Homeschool Bundles

What is a homeschool bundle?

You may have seen these going around Instagram recently. All of a sudden all of your favorite homeschool accounts are sharing about a “bundle” of resources around a particular theme. So what is it exactly? In a nutshell, these popular bundles are…well, brillant. The main idea is that a bunch of creators come together and offer their products (often all surrounding one theme) in one big themed set for a super reduced price for a limited time.

For example, the current bundle that I am a contributor for is the Nature Mega Bundle Vol. 2. This bundle has over 600 pages, valued at $600 for only $25! Included in this bundle are wonderful guides and mini-curriculums, that feature complete nature and art studies, science, games and other enriching activities. The themes of this bundle are water, trees, sky, plants, mini-beasts, earth, birds, bees, and animals. This bundle is only available through October 17th.

What’s the catch? 

There’s really not one. Bundles are beneficial for the creators and for the buyers. It helps the creators get their name out and their products in many hands who may not have found them otherwise. Creators also benefit financially because they have an affiliate link to the bundle and get a percentage of each purchase that goes through their link. It benefits the buyer because the value of the bundle is significantly more than the price and the products are themed, so it’s a one-stop shop without much effort on the buyer’s part.

Downloading and organizing bundles

Once you purchase a bundle, you receive an email with a link to view and download the bundle. Typically, bundles are organized through Google Drive, and once you click on the link you will see folders with units and lessons organized by theme within the folders. Some bundles only allow access to the folders for a limited time and others will keep the link active indefinitely. I personally prefer to go through the folders and download the content into my hard drive and into my personal Google Drive account. Then, I can organize the files as I see fit and refer to them easily without fear of losing the link or it expiring.

The way I organize the content in bundles, and really any additional mini unit study or digital educational content that I purchase, is by using folders in Google Drive. In my Google Drive account, I have a homeschool folder. In that folder, I have more folders for each main subject: Math, Science, Literature, History, etc. Inside those folders are more folders with sub-topics, such as “preschool math”, “insects”, or “US History.” You could really break it down however makes the most sense to you. In those folders, I organize all of the mini-units and “extras” that come my way via bundles, shops I come across through Instagram,  and any digital learning content I find and download. 

Sometimes items in a bundle may fall into more than one category or sub-subject. That’s okay–you can make a copy and place the files in more than one folder. For example, if you have Insect Counting Cards, you may want to place them in your “Preschool Math” and your “Insects” folders. Organize your materials in a way that makes it easiest for you to quickly find what you are looking for. 

Using bundles in my homeschool

You may see all of the beautiful resources and wonder what to do with them all. It can be overwhelming, especially as a new homeschooling family. Here’s how I view these resources–I have my main curriculums and guides that I use continually and for the year; these are our staples that we use everyday. These include our phonics and math curriculums. Then I have areas of our schooling that allow for extras. These areas currently are geography, history, art, science, nature study, and music appreciation. I love keeping these open so that I can add things in seasonally, because I find something I think my children would enjoy, or to follow my children’s interests about a topic. I do loosely follow some guides in these areas here and there, such as Exploring Nature with Children, but for the most part they are open. Even in following a guide or curriculum, the material included in these bundles can be added to the lessons in your curriculum to further studies.

Rather than printing and preparing the material all at once and in advance, I have everything organized digitally for when we are ready to study a topic. During my weekly planning session, I find what relates to what we will be studying and prepare it then. I print, cut, laminate, and bind all at home. You can see the office supplies I use and love here. 

Types of materials frequently offered in bundles and how I use them:

Informational posters

I like to print these and frame them or simply hang them in our school area for quick reference. The Nature Mega Bundle II has many of these, such as “Anatomy of a Rose”, “Woodland Fungi” and “Phases of the Moon.”

Full unit studies

These unit studies could be used in part or in full to enhance your lessons or completely stand alone for a full week or more of studying a certain area of interest. The Nature Mega Bundle II has many of these, such as one about trees, weather, bees, and many more.

Learning cards

I love to print, cut, and laminate these to hang in our school area or keep as reference if we’re learning about a certain topic. They’re also nice to throw in a backpack for learning outings. The Nature Mega Bundle II has many of these, such as ones about mountains, moths, landforms, and more.

There are more activities included in Nature Mega Bundle II like crafts, games, nature journals, and printable stickers! You really won’t be disappointed with this purchase.

Charlotte Mason Inspired Apple Study

Autumn is quickly approaching, so naturally, all the homeschool mamas are browsing Pinterest on the hunt for the cutest apple, acorn, and pumpkin-themed crafts and activities. I used to be that homeschool mom. The one who would print and laminate all the things and stress myself out spending too much money at the craft store for projects that barely held my children’s interests and, in the end, taught my children very little.

As I have studied Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and methods over the last year or so I have begun to take a different approach to studying specific topics, and you know what? It is so much simpler and way more meaningful. Instead of the shallow approach I may have taken in the past, I focused on the staples of a Charlotte Mason education in this study–living books, narration, poetry, hand rhymes, songs, handcrafts, art, picture study, tea time, hands-on nature study, and real-life experiences.

Living Books and Narration 

First and foremost, every good study begins with books! I gathered the books from this list and put them in a basket in our living room for the children to read independently throughout the week. We grabbed a few to read together at Morning Time and I would ask the children to orally narrate what I read. We also used these books during our apple tea party and throughout the week as a reference when questions came up about apples and for art inspiration.

Here is my apple picture book list. I’ve compiled this list from a few sources over the years. These are my tried and true favorites from these sources: Read-Aloud Revival, The Peaceful Preschool Letter A Unit and Tree Guide, Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit, and Rooted Childhood September Collection (get 10% off with code: TREEHOUSESCHOOLHOUSE10).

  • The Season’s of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
  • Apples by Gail Gibbons
  • The Apple Doll by Elisa Kleven
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Princeman
  • The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson
  • Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh
  • How Do Apples Grow? By Steven Kellogg
  • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  • The Apple Cake by Nienke Van Hichtum
  • How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro
  • Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner

Poetry, Hand-Rhymes, and Songs

Each morning we recited poems, hand-rhymes, and sang little songs around the theme of apples. Here are a few that we enjoyed. 

Poem

We focused on the poem After Apple Picking by Robert Frost. I pulled the poetry printable from Stephanie Hathaways Apple Unit Study and put it in our Morning Time Menu. We read the poem each morning and discussed unfamiliar words, the meaning of the poem, and how different aspects of it made us imagine and feel.

Hand-rhymes and songs

I pulled these two from Rooted Childhood’s September Collection and ended up finding them online to sing along with the music. My two-year-old especially loved these and wanted me to sing them all day and do the motions. 

Handcrafts, Art, and Picture Study

Here are a few handcrafts and art projects that I found to add to our apple study. We didn’t fit all of these into our week, but I wanted to share all of the ideas I came across to inspire you.

Apple star printing

After reading The Apple Star Story found in Rooted Collection’s September issue, we cut open an apple, found the star, and made star prints by lightly painting the apple’s star with a paintbrush and pressing it on paper.

Still-life art study

I printed the still-life art pieces from Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit Study and put them in my children’s Morning Menus. Each morning we looked at the art, read about the artists, discussed different elements of the artwork, the colors, the art mediums, and how the art makes us feel. After a few days of learning about still-life paintings, the children set up their own still life using apples and anything else they would like. We lit a candle, put on some classical music, and they attempted to paint their scene. You can find the watercolor paper and paint we use here.

Apple tree embroidery

This handcraft is so adorable and perfect for beginning sewing practice. Using an embroidery hoop and a yarn needle, your child can sew a felt tree trunk and green treetop onto some burlap. To finish it off, they can sew on a few red buttons as the apples. Check out the Art & Handcrafts section in my Amazon shop to see the needles and thread I use. This was a handcraft featured in Rooted Childhood’s September Collection.

Air-dry clay apples

Roll air-dry clay into balls and stick a twig in the top of them as the stem. Once they dry, paint them red, green, and yellow. 

Tea Time

One morning I set up an Apple Tea Time with a spread of apple slices, cookies, cheese, crackers, and almonds. We had cinnamon tea, read books from our book basket, and watched a few apple videos that were shared in the Apple Unit.

Here are the videos we watched:

Hands-on Nature Study and Exploration

Using the living books I mentioned, the videos above, and Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit printables, we explored many facets of how apples grow, the life cycle of the apple tree, the anatomy of the apple and the apple blossom, apple varieties, and more. 

Nature notebook

After a few days of my children soaking in all the information, I asked them to give me a few sentences of what they have learned. I wrote what they said in their nature notebooks and they drew/painted a picture to illustrate it. 

Dissecting and tasting apples

We cut open a few varieties of apples and using the Anatomy of an Apple printable from the Apple Unit, we separated the pieces into piles. Then we ate them and talked about how the different varieties tasted.

Real Life Experiences

What would an apple study be without some baking? This week we made apple crisp and apple pie. Children love being in the kitchen. They are gaining so much while peeling, cutting, measuring, following directions, setting the timer, and most of all, being together in a shared experience. 

Baking apple crisp

I use and love the apple crisp recipe from The Peaceful Preschool Letter A Unit

Baking apple pie

If you’re looking for a pie recipe, try this one.

Apple picking

After a full week of exploring apples, we drove over to our favorite mountaintop apple orchard and spent the day picking apples. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of a fun study and really round off all the learning that happened.

Our 24 Family Ways + New Scripture Set Bundle!

When my oldest children were preschool age, I incorporated Bible lessons and scripture memory into our Morning Time. At that point, we primarily read from The Jesus Storybook Bible and I dabbled in the devotions from Leading Little Ones to God. We also memorized short passages of scripture that I hand-picked. While I loved both of those resources and still use them now, I wanted something we could do as a family that would focus more on character training and Biblical application. 

My husband and I decided that it was time to prioritize a time in our daily rhythm that he could lead the family in devotions and prayer. I was about to have our fourth child and I knew that fitting everything in our days with a new baby and a toddler was going to be challenging. We didn’t want this area of discipleship and biblical instruction to fall through the cracks, so we looked at our rhythm and decided to try family devotions over breakfast time on the weekdays. My husband shifted his work schedule a bit so he could be home most mornings to lead this time. We have been gathering for family devotions now each weekday morning over breakfast for about 8 months and it has been so great for our family.

After much searching, I decided on the family devotional, Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson. The devotional’s premise is that you are creating a culture in your home of how your family thinks and acts.  Based on the idea that we are called to “train up a child in the way he should go”, Clarkson maps out 24 ways which you can use to teach and instruct your children. I loved this idea because I felt like it was giving clarity and verbiage to the character traits I desire to see in my children. We refer to the 24 ways given in this book all the time now, even after finishing the devotional, to redirect heart attitudes and behaviors. 

The devotional’s layout is simple. It is set up to be used for 24 weeks, one week per Family Way. The 24 weeks are broken into 6 sections. 

The six sections are:

  1. Concerning authorities in our family: these ways address love and obedience to God, parents, and other people of authority. 
  2. Concerning relationships in our family: these ways address having a heart of love, service, encouragement, and forgiveness towards others. 
  3. Concerning possessions in our family-: these ways address thankfulness, contentment, generosity, and stewardship of belongings.
  4. Concerning work in our family: these ways address diligence, taking initiative, working cooperatively, and taking personal responsibility for cleanliness.
  5. Concerning attitudes in our family: these ways address choosing joy, being a peacemaker, patience, and showing grace to others.
  6. Concerning choices in our family: these ways address making right choices in the midst of peer pressure, self-control, and truthfulness.

Each section has 4 Family Ways and each Family way includes a picture with a story starter for discussion, and 5 days of questions, scripture readings, discussion prompts, and prayer ideas. Each day is presented using the acronym ARTS.

A – Ask a Question

This section gives the leader questions to get the children chatting before reading the bible passage.

R – Read the Bible

Bible passages or stories that are applicable to each day’s topic are listed here with a short summary. My kids loved to use their own Bibles to look up these passages and take turns reading aloud to the family. 

T – Talk about it

Here, questions are given that relate to the passage as well as open up discussion for life application.

S – Speak to God

In this section, prayer prompts are offered as suggestions. 

In addition to that, each week has one passage of scripture intended for memorization, some commentary, and a character trait highlight. Our family devotional time is about 30 minutes. We could easily fit everything in each day, as well as take a few minutes for reviewing previous weeks’ verses that we had memorized.

Here are the reasons we loved using Our 24 Family Ways:

It was engaging for children of all ages

We used this devotional when my oldest children were 5 and 7 years old and most of the content was perfectly suited for their age, but could absolutely be used for children older as well. We did skip over some questions and adjust the wording of some things to make it easier for them to grasp, but for the most part it was a great fit. 

It was easy to open and use with no preparation

Each morning my husband would open the book, glance over the topic and was able to jump in and lead without missing a beat. 

It set us up for life application and practical training

The verbiage of the ways gave my husband I language to use that my children knew from devotional time as we addressed situations in our home. I found this super helpful for training and discipline and plan to continue to use these ways in our home for years.

It encouraged the children to think and discuss

Each day’s devotional is based on scripture and the prompt questions get the children thinking and talking, rather than the parent reading long passages and telling the children what to think. I loved watching my children’s cognitive and language skills develop over the time we used this devotional.

It is designed to bring your family closer to God and each other

I loved the idea that each Family Way that we taught was empowering the children to take a step nearer to God and to us as a family unit as we talked about it being something that we all collectively do in our family.

Each week I wrote the Family Way and the passage for memorization on our chalkboard that hangs behind our dining room table. I would also write each person’s initial and 4 boxes for each person to check off as we recited the scripture we were memorizing that week. On Monday’s we introduced the verse by reading and reciting it together a few times. The rest of the days we each got a chance to recite it from memory and check off a box if we were able to say it without looking. 

In addition to using the devotional, I created the Scripture Sets as a tool to use during our school lessons to give the kids extra practice with the passages presented in the book for weekly scripture memory. I tried to think of short activities that my children could do each day of the week to reinforce memorization and application of the passage. I designed each passage with a standard and shortened version so that younger learners can participate too.

You can find these sets for all 24 Family Ways in my shop. Whether or not you choose to use this devotional with your family, this 24 week Scripture Set curriculum can be used to help memorize excellent selections of passages of scripture. You can purchase each set individually or save $40 when you buy them as a bundle.

Here is what I included in each Scripture Set:

  • Tracing: Children trace the verses to help practice letter formation as well as reinforce the memory work as they write.
  • Journaling: Children apply the scripture and practice creative writing by finishing the sentence. They can then illustrate their journal entry in the blank space provided.
  • Cut and Paste: Children cut out each phrase or word and then paste them in the correct order on the lines. 
  • Fill in the Blank: Children can practice copying, memory work, and letter formation by filling in the missing words.
  • Copy Work: Children will copy the selection to using proper spacing, punctuation, and capitalization to create a “perfect copy.” This activity will improve your student’s penmanship, grammar, and punctuation skills.

You can watch my igtv about Our 24 Family Ways and Scripture Sets here.