Our Homeschool Routine (autism)




We do not have a “typical” school day.  Each week day has different activities and therapies.  I do have a routine for the week:


voicetouse2226Please note, this is NOT a rigid schedule!  In fact, I’m reasonably certain that we have never had a whole week that followed this routine.  The children need sensory breaks, have meltdowns, etc. and we have to adjust accordingly. DSCN5876


L and J each have a large weekly schedule that show the major events of the day:


And smaller, reversible foam boards that show more detailed steps for getting dressed, etc.

DSCN5886 DSCN5892


When not in use, I keep extra PECs in a fabric covered shipping box on top of the fridge.

L and J have a difficult time transitioning from one activity to another. Theses portable visual schedules from Rainbow Resource are perfect for showing each child the daily school activites and their order:



Our Zones of Regulation station is used many times during the day:


Our SuperFlex wall is a work in progress that J especially needs to use throughout the day:DSCN5901

 C can do most subjects independently.  I print out her assignments for the week using Homeschool Tracker Plus.  We do dictation and discuss literature while traveling to appointments and in waiting rooms when L and J are in therapy.  I usually read the books assigned to C in the evenings.

Our School Room(s)


The study



The school room

We actually have two rooms that we use for homeschool – one in our basement and the study on the main level.  Our home’s main level is just shy of 1,000 square feet so many rooms serve multiple purposes.  The school room in the basement is also used as a therapy room, sensory room, play room and sewing room.


This is the sensory corner where the sensory table lives and in this photo we have the blue “crash mat” out as well. I change the theme of the sensory bin every week and alternate what is in the corner every 3-4 weeks (crash mat, trampoline, ball pit, etc.).




Sensory bin for Katy and the Big Snow



Book ledge made out of scraps…



I Spy Tray



Pathfinder is usually on the wall below the book ledge.

hs9 DSCN5535



Light box and sensory supplies.



Colored rice and translucent chips in canning jars. 



Plant cell model made out of scraps of rigid insulation glued together.



DIY light box

Behind the curtain is a monstrous old entertainment center turned into a sewing cabinet and storage for large items like globes.     


I keep patterns in Ikea baskets and fabric on little bolts of foam board.  I have a large drawer unit (where the TV would go) for scraps and felt.  An Ikea Bygel rail and cups installed on the side allows for easy access to the most used items.


We use folding tables for our work area because we need to be able to quickly and easily move the tables to make room for therapy and other activities.  The gray tops were not very inspiring so I painted one teal and decoupaged a cute fabric map on top, then covered with epoxy resin.  The other table was painted black and the younger children were each given a third of the table to create a mosaic design.  The “glass” is cut up scraps of cardstock and watercolor paintings.


Close-up of mosaic table.



My desk area.



Hanging storage out of file folders and duct tape.



Children’s art in easy front load frames (Wal-mart).



Storage unit painted black on turned to the side stores frequently used items. The side and what would be the back have black hooks and magnetic strips to hold headphones, adaptive mouse, PT exercises and more.



Our reading nook



White board (made from inexpensive shower board and duct tape) with Ikea picture wire and clips above for displaying artwork, maps and charts.



Stairs leading to the schoolroom are painting in contrasting colors with shredded rubber added to the paint to create a non-slip surface. Ikea grip strips and handrails on both sides of the stairwell help L safely maneuver the stairs.



Oil pan screwed to wall for magnetic play.



Ugly storage cabinets updated with paint, new hardware and chalkboard contact paper. Puzzles, art supplies and teachers manual are stored inside. 


Next to the white cabinets are five bookcases. The short bookcase in the middle houses picture books and easy readers with paper storage above. I keep file folder games in the purple crates and the pieces in binder pouches hooked on (what I think are belt?) hangers.


   file_folder_games.JPG hs3DSCN5520This bookshelf houses FIAR and geography (above) as well as history and reference materials.



hs5 The bookcase to the left holds science, art, bible and chapter books to be assigned during the year.hs6




Spinning shoe rack for puppet storage.

DSCN5556DSCN5558DSCN4770DSCN5504DSCN5115Additional views of the school room and set up for therapy.  




This bookcase holds current read-alouds, library books, poetry, cookbooks, field guides and educational games. Can you believe my dad built this in junior high shop class?



Oversized book holder made out of a shipping box and fabric scraps. 



Small bulletin board made from foam board and fabric.



J’s desk – old Little Tykes table painted and embellished with her favorite things (flags, watertowers and fire hydrants) and covered with several coats of epoxy resin.



Ikea Trofast storage holds pencils, scissors, fidgets, chewies, OT supplies, and math manipulatives. Photos of each drawer’s contents are laminated and attached with velcro to help the children put away their things.



J’s weekly schedule is attached to the side of the Ikea unit.



View from the front door.



C has a large desk with lots of storage.



Storage bench houses speech and social skills resources as well as bird guides and binoculars. I made the bench from an Ikea Expedit shelf, added legs and a seat from plywood and furniture foam. It is upholstered with outdoor fabric for easy care

DSCN5582We also consider our yard as part of our homeschool space, especially in the summer!zDSCN5403_0zDSCN5568_0zDSCN5398_0

2013-2014 Curriculum Plans (High School)


**For my 14 year old daughter “C” (ninth grade):

Math: Kinetic Algebra and Quartermile Math

Character: Before I Meet Prince Charming, Bright Lights

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone Spanish with My Father’s World Lesson plans

Science: Apologia Biology with ipad app and notebooking/lapbook from Knowledge Box


Health and Fitness: SOS High School Health, CPR/First Aid, Self-Defense/karate (black belt), swimming, bowling, wii fit, etc.


Music: Piano, Composer/hymn studies

History, Bible, English:

As always, I combine history, bible, language arts and art.  This year the spine of C’s curriculum will be Exploring World History (part 1) by Notgrass.  The program is designed to be a one year course, however, I am stretching it out for two years to allow for more in depth study.  In addition to the writing and reading assignments suggested, we are adding:

*Within the Palace Gates

*Fountain of Life

*Galen and the Gateway to Medicine


*Cyrus the Persian

*Lord of the Rings Trilogy

*Mere Christianity


*Alexander the Great – Landmark

*The Adventures of Odysseus

*Tale of Troy

*Favorite Greek Myths

*Eagle of the Ninth

*Raiders from the Sea

*Shadow Spinner

*Adara (Kings II, Naaman and Elisha)

*God King (the Story of Hezekiah)

*Victory on the Walls (the Story of Nehemiah)

*Vinegar Boy

*Wulf the Saxon

*Son of Charlemagne

*Hittite Warrior

*Famous Men of Rome

*Red Falcons of Tremoine

*For the Temple

*Beric the Briton

*Usborne: Roman World, Greece, Middle Ages

History 1

We use the Socratic method outlined in Teaching the Classics to discuss the books and  will also finish the last half of Literary Lessons with the Lord of the Rings, Spelling Wisdom 3 lessons 81-160, writing instruction with Jensen’s Format Writing and IEW.

Current Events: God’s World News

Extra Curricular: Awana Leader in Training, 4H, Bible Quizzing, Bright Lights

2013-2014 Curriculum Plans (Autism)


Curriculum plans for my 9 year old daughter (J) and 12 year old son (L); both of whom have autism.



Our primary goal for math this year is to cement the concrete meaning to  the number symbols.  L can do basic math in his head and more complex problems with manipulatives and visuals, but is unable to transfer that to working problems on paper.  We are using a program I created which appears similar to Touchmath, where the number symbols themselves are the manipulative/visual.  We will play lots of math games (Set, Quick Pix, Top Speech, Dino Dice, etc.) and use hands on materials like tangrams, unifix and geoboards.  Living math books like the Sir Cumference series will also be used as well as Splash Math (iPad app) grade 2 for L and grade 3 for J.

History, Bible, Art, Literature:

Hx, Bible

We have always combined these subjects using Five In A Row as our core.  This year we will be using Sonlight for the first time, beginning with Core C (the second half of world history) and supplementing with many resources I have used over the years with my older children.  Since L and J are able to do very little work independently,  I am excited to see if it is a good fit and how much time it will save me compared with developing my own curriculum.  We also love to listen tonBible on the iPad (BibleIs).  Art is incorporated through history (coloring, painting, building, notebooking) and both L and J attend art class twice per month at our homeschool co-op.

Language Arts:


I have the Sonlight reading guides and language arts for second grade and accelerated (which seems to be about fourth grade) and will supplement with Primary language Lessons, GUM Drops, Write on/Wipe Off Grammar and Punctuation, Novenops and Story Cubes.  My goal is that L and J will be able to produce some writing by the end of the year using a combination of techniques from IEW and Writing Skills for Special Students.  Handwriting is HWT Character (basic print) for L and HWT Character (beginning cursive) for J.  Read, Write and Type will be used 2-3 times per week for typing and spelling practice.

Current Events:

God’s World News



L and J both practice piano five days per week and have free play with Boomwhackers and other instruments at least once a week.  They also have Music Therapy at the Autism center each week.


We study a composer each month, reading biographies and listening to Classical Kids and other CDs while coloring and often during OT.


Using Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day and the corresponding lapbook from Knowledge Box Central, we will study bats and flying dinosaurs in September, then insects in the spring.  During the late fall and winter we will explore simple machines, Snap Circuits and do many experiments.

Speech & Social Skills:


We have a large assortment of games and iPad apps that focus on improving speech, social communication and social skills including idioms, making friends, how to respond appropriately and DVDs from Model Me Kids that use video modeling to demonstrate behavior.  J also has in-clinic speech twice each week and they both attend weekly social skills groups at the Autism Center.

Occupational Therapy:


We use too many OT resources to list them all, but some of our favorites are pictured above.  L and J both need sensory breaks throughout the day as well as fidgets or access to swings and trampolines while I am reading out loud.  We have designated OT time at least once a day to work on fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, visual perception and increasing sensory tolerances.  I also set up a large sensory bin with a new theme each week that correlates to something we are studying in history, science or literature.


rox1 Roxaboxen Sensory Bin

Physical Therapy/Education:

L does in home physical therapy three days each week, J twice per week.  They both participate in the 2-3 grade gym class at our homeschool co-op twice per month, go swimming at the local hotel at least twice per month, play Wii Fit and go bowling at least twice a month.  L will also be participating in the Special Olympics (starting with bowling in September).

Additional Life Skills/Character:

L is working on Contenders for the Faith while J is working in Keepers at Home.  We will do two books from the Write upon My heart curriculum; “Cheerfulness” and “Compassion”.  We are working on basic skills with Taking Care of Myself and Life Skills for Kids with Autism.  The short term focus for L is tying shoes, sweeping and putting away laundry.  J is learning to dust, put away silverware and wash off the dining room table.


It is very difficult for me to determine which activities are “curricular” versus “extra-curricular.”  I really count every activity somewhere.  Things we do that might not be considered a “normal” part of school include: 4H, Special Olympics, Social Skills group, Speech Therapy, Play Therapy, Skills Training, Physical Therapy and Music Therapy.