Welcome to Teaching with TLC

Teaching with TLC began as an educational outreach in 2006 to encourage parents and educators. I'm a mom of five and a teacher who enjoys sharing creative and practical teaching tips. Actually, I'm a bit obsessed with making learning FUN! Here's how you can get started:
  • Want to find out the latest tips? Head on over to my recent posts and scroll down.
  • Would you like more teaching tips? Check out my resources for printables, E-books, workshops, and books.
  • Looking for teaching tips in a particular subject area or perhaps for a holiday? Visit my Virtual File Cabinet below for hundreds of creative and practical ideas.
Enjoy making learning FUN!

What is Organic Homeschooling?

Throughout my 23 years in education, I have found myself using most teaching styles. During different seasons, I have used traditional, classical, unit studies, Montessori, and unschooling approaches. I saw the strengths of each method and wanted to incorporate them all. I was elated when the new buzzword “eclectic” became popular about a decade ago because I felt like there was finally a word to describe how I taught.

But as time went on, I discovered a better word to describe my family’s homeschool- ORGANIC. The term “organic” seems to be a common word nowadays. It can be used to describe types of food, businesses, churches, and even more. When I think of the word “organic,” I think of natural, wholesome, and fundamental. That is exactly what I want my children’s education to be like!

Learning becomes a natural process.
  • I no longer feel pressure from what others are doing. I remind myself that my children are created uniquely by the Lord and He has a specific plan for each of them.
  • Frustration is rarely present when things don’t go as I plan. I realized that most of my frustration in homeschooling was when things were not going my way. It was simply a control issue. I wanted my lesson plans and goals to be met on my timetable. I didn't welcome life's interruptions as possible lessons but viewed them as hindrances to my original plans. When I learned to lay aside my plans for His plans, homeschooling became a joy and not a burden.
  • I stopped pushing my children to finish the curriculum. When I find myself rushing to “finish the book,” I am missing the beauty of homeschooling. Our homeschool days should be about teaching the child, not the curriculum. Read more HERE.
A wholesome learning environment is created.
  • I strive to provide the best nutrients in our soil to produce the sweetest fruit. One way I do this is by using teaching materials that are rooted in God’s word.
  • I use unit studies that incorporate most subjects, instead of teaching individual subjects separately. This approach is teaching learning as a whole, which leads to better retention and is less time-consuming for the student and teacher. 
Build upon the foundation with the fundamentals of a solid education.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
  • I choose to focus the majority of my teaching time on the Bible and building upon that foundation with the core subjects- reading, writing, and math. Read more HERE.
  • I avoid using "preservatives and extra additives" by eliminating busywork. To be honest, homeschooling four children makes my teaching time valuable. I cut right to the chase and avoid any "fluff" in the books or curriculum I use. Three hours of solid teaching time with active learning is much more important to me than a full day of teaching with little real learning.
If I had to sum up organic homeschooling in one word, it would be FREEDOM.

Freedom to learn at our own pace. Freedom to choose what curriculum to use and which paths to take. Freedom to appreciate the simplicity of teaching and how less is really more. Freedom to teach real lessons for the real world. Freedom to have fun while learning. Freedom to encourage creativity and out-of-the-box ideas. Freedom to explore our own interests and try something new. Freedom from comparing myself to others. Freedom from guilt because I may feel like I am not doing enough. Freedom to step off the highway of learning to take the more scenic route along a dirt road. Freedom to slow down and enjoy every minute God has entrusted me to educate my children. Freedom to love learning.

As a home educator, it is not my responsibility to teach my children everything. It is my responsibility to create life-long learners by providing the best teaching tools while cultivating a passion for learning. That is why teaching organically best describes my family's homeschool approach.

Wishing you much joy in your homeschooling journey,

I recently listened to an excellent recording from the FPEA convention- 10 Benefits to Teaching With a Natural Approach. It was everything I believe learning and teaching should encompass. If I sat down with a homeschool mom, this is exactly the same advice I would give her. Bravo Geography Matters. You really hit it out of the park with this presentation! 


Spring Trash Candy- An extra sweet and salty treat!

Today is the first day of spring and my kids wanted to make a spring treat. We LOVE the Classic White Trash Candy that I shared with you seven years ago, so we decided to add our own spin to it to make it more spring-like. My kids came up with this recipe- Spring Trash Candy.

We used pastel-colored M&Ms, pastel-colored spring sprinkles, and substituted the corn chex cereal with Fruit Loops, which makes the classic sweet and salty candy treat EXTRA sweet.

Spring Trash Candy

1 c. pastel colored M&Ms
1 1/2 c. Fruit Loops cereal
2 c. pretzel sticks
1 c. cocktail peanuts
1 oz. pastel-colored/spring sprinkles
14 oz. vanilla almond bark

Mix the first five ingredients together in a large bowl. Melt the vanilla almond bark in the microwave, and pour it over the mixed ingredients. Mix well without breaking the cereal and pretzels and spread it thin on wax paper. Let it cool off and harden then break into chunks and place in cute containers. This makes great Easter gifts for teachers, neighbors, family, and friends.

Enjoy this super simple but highly addicting treat,

FUN Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

My family is super excited to start the celebration of St. Patrick. There are so many fun activities to do on March 17th, and here are a few of my family's faves.

Silly McGilly visits our house on St. Patrick's Day and he loves to play tricks on little ones, such as: hiding toys, turning things upside down, changing toilet water green, and leaving cabinet doors open (oh wait, that's my 21 year-old son!)

I plan to sit Silly McGilly by our window and then my younger kids can write (or narrate) letters to him and keep a scrapbook of the funny tricks he plays on them.


On March 17th, we like to begin our morning with reading the classic Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. Afterwards, we eat green eggs and ham. ☺

My four and five-year-olds really like using bingo markers. CLICK HERE to print off some copies for your wee little ones.

My former students and my own children have enjoyed graphing Lucky Charms for as long as I can remember. This is a classic activity every year. (My middle-schoolers still join in on the fun with their younger siblings.) Tip: Before you open the box, ask your child which type he/she thinks will be the most popular type of marshmallow. This is a terrific way to practice making predictions, as well as practicing graphing skills. CLICK HERE to print off a copy.

For a fun science activity, we like to do a Color Changing Milk Experiment. CLICK HERE for instructions. Tip: It does not work with the foam dishwashing soap.

HERE are TONS of free St. Patrick's Day printables, such as: games, mazes, handwriting, practicing math skills, art ideas and much more!

My sweet blogging friend, Shannon, has found lots of online learning activities for St. Patrick's Day.

She linked them all to one easy-to-use website. So cool! 

Even though I like doing fun activities for this holiday, I read The Story of St. Patrick to my older children. With all the not-so-family-friendly ways that people in the U.S. celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I want my kids to understand why the holiday originated and how amazing this heroic person really was.

I'd like to leave you with this Irish blessing. ♥
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Wishing you a happy St. Patrick's Day!

For more St. Patrick's Day activities, click HERE and then SCROLL DOWN to see all the posts.

FUN Learning Activities with Chocolate

In preparation for Valentine's Day, my kids are diving into chocolate lessons head first with their mouths wide open. There's something magical when you mix food with learning, and chocolate seems to be one of the best teaching tools I've used!
No worries if Valentine's Day has already passed when you find this post. Chocolate can been incorporated into many other lessons, such as when learning about rain forests or to celebrate Chocolate Week in March. Yes, there is such a week!  My family occasionally declares a Chocolate Day to spice things up when our lessons (or myself) may need a little pep in my step.

I was so into the chocolate unit study this week that I was sporting my Teacher Powered by Chocolate T-shirt this week!
So how do we incorporate chocolate into our lessons?

When my kids are little, we use chocolate syrup to fingerpaint letters, shapes, numbers, and spelling words. Just squirt same chocolate syrup on fingerpaint paper and let your kids play.

This photo and fingerpainting with chocolate post is a blast from the past (perhaps 7 years old).

For a variation, squirt some chocolate syrup into a small baggie, seal it tight, and let your kids write with their fingers on the side of the baggie for a sensory activity.

For some writing activities with chocolate, we wrote a Five Senses Poem on chocolate using this lesson plan. What a great writing activity that was!

My blogging friend, Jennifer, has a cute sensory poem template to use with the above poetry lesson for young children.
Source: rowdyinfirstgrade
A few years ago, my boys memorized by favorite poem about chocolate-
My Mother's Chocolate Valentine by Jack Prelutsky. HERE is the poem and the video.

We wrote step-by-step directions on how to make hot chocolate and then made it exactly according to their instructions. (You'd be surprised how kids can miss out on important steps.)
Source: Teachers Notebook
This teacher had her student create this chocolate acrostic poem. I was impressed by her creativity and descriptive wording to describe chocolate.
Source: www.brighthubeducation.com

We read books about Milton Hershey.

Milton Hershey: More than Chocolate (Heroes of History)

Who was Milton Hershey?

Hershey's site offers lots of free lesson plans and activities.

We used Hershey bars and kisses for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. We picked these books up from our local library. Trust me, your kids will not forget these math lessons!

Hershey's Fractions Book 

Hershey's Multiplication Book

Hershey's Addition Book

Hershey's Subtraction Book

My little ones LOVE using M &M's for math manipulatives as well as graphing. I had to purchase this book (even though it is at my local library) because my kids want to read it at least once a month. I don't blame them a bit- it is pure fun!

The M&M's Counting Book

Here is an M&M graphing printable that I like to use.
Source: MPM school supplies
Who doesn't like chocolate chips cookies? Reading The Doorbell Rang is a wonderful way to demonstrate division to young children. You can make some homemade chocolate chip cookies to use with this lesson.

You can also use Cookie Crisp cereal for math manipulatives for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Some chocolate-filled fiction books are:

Chocolate Fever (A classic that I absolutely enjoy reading aloud to my kids.)

The Chocolate Touch (I haven't read this book yet but it is on my list.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Kids are mesmerized by this read-aloud. My former students were begging for more. That is why Roald Dahl is known as the world's number one storyteller.)

My husband prefers watching the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as it was his favorite movie growing up (but I still prefer the book).

Roald Dahl's Site has tons of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lesson plans and quizzes.

We read about the history of chocolate in Smart about Chocolate- A Sweet History

The Story of Chocolate

We watched some videos about the story of chocolate and how it is made.

This is the best chocolate unit study I have used and it is FREE. You have to print off a copy for yourself. So much good stuff!

Teaching Ideas offers several fantastic chocolate activities.

My favorite activity from Teaching Tips was their chocolate fact cards.

My little ones played chocolate games on the computer, which had them matching shapes. It was also great practice for them using the mouse on the computer.

Make Your Own Chocolate Kit
I have not tried out this kit but have read such great reviews about it on homeschool blogs that I have it on my Amazon wish list for a future gift for my kids. (Yes, I am one of  "those moms" who likes to give educational gifts. Shhh! My kids don't seem to mind a bit.)
We ended our chocolate study with some science by watching liquids turn to solids within seconds right before our eyes by making chocolate covered strawberries as well as homemade magic shell poured on ice cream. If you haven't tried this easy magic shell recipe, you have to make it. I even bottled it up in mason jars one year for Christmas gifts because it was so delicious!

In the past, we have visited local candy shops that demonstrate how to make fudge. The kids really like those field trips.

Then on Valentine's Day we received a very sweet treat from Grandma in the mail- her homemade fudge (which is seriously the best fudge EVER). Thanks Grandma!

UPDATE: After attending the FPEA Homeschool Convention this year, we stopped by Chocolate Kingdom for an interactive tour that demonstrates how the cocoa bean becomes a chocolate bar.

It includes the history of chocolate, hands-on activities, and even making your own chocolate bar. This tour was one of the best educational tours I've ever been on! It completely surpassed my expectations. My children were very attentive and soaking up all the facts like sponges. How could they not be with tasting different samples and playing trivia games along the way? You have to stop by Chocolate Kingdom the next time you are in the Orlando area.
Lessons with chocolate ensure sweet learning success- from geography to history to science to math to writing to spelling to reading. Unit studies can involve every subject area and the entire family, including myself! (Someone has to taste test the chocolate to make sure it is safe to eat, right?)

Have FUN making sweet memories with your kids,

To read more of my posts on FUN Valentine's Day activities,
click on the image below and keep scrolling down.

For more ways to incorporate food into math lessons, click here.