Behind the Scenes ~ FAQ {printing, finding things, and more}

Behind the Scenes Lately I have been getting emails asking similar questions many times. I realized it might be a good time to answer a few of these publicly in case there are others who have them too! I used to categorize these posts as “From My Inbox” but decided to just add them into Behind the Scenes. If you want to see old posts similar to this one with random FAQ you can see a gathering here.

Here are the questions I have received most frequently and their answers…

  • I can’t get my PDF documents to print right, the text is all smudged and things are just off?
    • You need to go online and install the most recent Adobe Reader update. This is the problem 99.9% of the time! It’s that simple!
    • If you are using a MAC-the problem is usually because you are using the standard Mac PDF viewer instead of Adobe, Make sure you have updated Adobe and that your downloaded files are opening in Adobe and not the Mac viewer and things should be fine!
    • Sometimes Google Chrome can be the problem. Try opening in Firefox or possibly IE and see if that helps. I personally use and love Firefox!
    • You can see a thread on my Facebook page here offering even more troubleshooting tips!
  • I can’t find the vocabulary cards {or easy reader, or handwriting letter sheets, etc.} I see in your posts, did you make these and if so where are they located?
    • Everything you see me post about for Raising Rock Stars Preschool in my Preschool blog posts is included in one big PDF download for each letter. You just go to each letter resource page and click on the graphic of the Bible verse sheet {see below} and the entire PDF packet will download. The handwriting sheets, vocabulary cards, and everything is included in that one file.


  • Where are the links to the Raising Rock Stars Preschool lessons and are they free or just for Members?
    • They are FREE! I provide the base printable program for free and have no plans of changing that! In the Members Only section there are PowerPoint lessons and some additional printables {for example~ the review printables}, but the base program is free.
    • If you look on the main RRSP page and scroll down, you will see a blue box {see image below}. The links to the letters that are available for free are right there. Just click on the letter and you will be taken to the resource page for that letter.


I hope the answers to some of these FAQ will help someone!

Tot School

~Ladybug is currently 15.5 months old~

OK, so I was SUPER lazy regarding Tot School this past week.  I was so focused on getting K and P done in the mornings before their daily VBS, that I didn’t even have much time leftover to spend on Tot School.  Thankfully Tot School IS Life School, so she was just fine playing all week!!!  SO our random collection of Ladybug photos from this past week all fall into the Life School category!

 Life School

Kirsten {in college now-used to live with us} was home for the week before school starts back and she always cooks with the kids.  Ladybug got in on the action for the first time!


We got some wonderful Usborne books sent to us for an upcoming review/giveaway and Ladybug is in LOVE with her little puzzle book, AnimalsIMG_4682

My mom surprises the kids sometimes with a package in the mail.  She is so sweet and often will check my Amazon learning toys wishlist and just order something, not tell me and just have it shipped.  One of these glorious packages arrived near the end of the week!  Ladybug was THRILLED with both items inside: Learning Links and Quirkle.IMG_4870

The Quirkle game was more for the boys, but shhh-don’t tell her that!IMG_4880

Our Kimochi Cloud continues to be a popular toy {if you missed our old review you can see it here}.  Lately Ladybug has enjoyed gathering up all of the feelings to see how many she can hold at once.  The “happy” one makes her laugh every time she looks at it-soo funny.IMG_4677 Ladybug loves the toy, Krash loves Ladybug. IMG_4679

  Moms Favorite

Simply because I think their relationship is so sweet…IMG_4738

They can’t get enough of each other ;-).


This Weeks Tools


Out of the Zone ~ 3rd Grade Planning Sheets

out of the zone2I am always making stuff on the computer, so of course I have to create my own personalized planning sheets. For those of you who just happen to be using Calvert’s 3rd grade, you’ll be able to use them too-since they are specific to the program. The rest of you might be able to get ideas, and I also included a blank form in case you like the layout but don’t use Calvert.

This is the front page of the planning sheet, which shows 5 lessons{days} at a time. Each subject is on the left and I write short notes of page #s to the right for each day. These are not detailed plans {those are in the manual written for me ;-)} just notes mainly so we can check things off each day and also so I can pull papers in advance.



This is the back of the sheet where I am dividing each day into 3 parts. 1-Morning Independent, 2-With Mom, 3-Afternoon Independent. I hope to keep up with this to help organize P’s days for him in advance so he can see what he should be able to do independently before needing my help, what he should wait for me on and what he will need to do after we work together.IMG_4284

I am pulling all worksheets for the week and putting them in a binder with each page labeled with a highlighter in the bottom right corner to show which lesson it goes with.IMG_4286For those of you using Calvert-I broke down the following workbooks: Math, Maps, Globes & Graphs, Critical Thinking, RWP, Phonics, Reading Word Cards, and Activity Pages. I did NOT rip apart: Spelling, Gods & Goddesses, Famous Americans or any hard bound textbooks. In case you missed it here is my Details About Calvert 3rd Grade post

I have one large 3” binder with tabs dividing each section of 5 lessons. Calvert goes in groups of 20, so I have a 1” binder that is our current plans. Currently we have lessons 1-20 in there, each section of 5 divided by colored tabs. As we finish the work, I am grading it and placing it in the back pocket of the notebook.IMG_4280

In the back of the notebook I keep the assessment sheets. Calvert has these for each 20 lessons and with our cyber school, we have to send them in to be graded and reviewed by a teacher. I actually like this component because it is automatic assessment and ongoing review. I always know that we are on target.IMG_4288

You can download my planning sheets here. I also made a blank version in case you like them but don’t use Calvert.

Tot School

~Ladybug is currently 15.5 months old~

Learning Toys

Ladybug’s 3 Tot Trays this week were actually the same as last week {partly because she enjoyed them, partly because I am lazy and didn’t switch them}. The current schoolroom is still in a rather haphazard state as we wait for our transition into our new schoolroom {hopefully no later than October but possibly earlier-and YES I will be sharing all about it}. My mind is so focused on the new space that it is hard for me to keep up with the current space.

Ladybug’s favorite thing to do is to sit in the schoolroom and make a big ol mess. Honestly I don’t even mind because I still think it is cute!!!! I love sneaking a peak at her when I am working with one of the boys, to see this behind me…


She does sit down and play a lot too. She spent most of her time this past week with Zoobs, this girl has a serious LOVE for the Zoobs. They weren’t even out and each day she crawled up to the shelf they sit on and either pulled them down her self {spilling them all} or begged me to get them for her. She used her little container with the cut-out a LOT to stick the Zoobs into…IMG_4444 IMG_4501

She stacked our nesting blocks for the first time… IMG_4334

She gave her fishy puzzle a shot {still needing help from me though}…IMG_4439-2

She continues to love exploring K’s Star Boxes, and digs into them a lot! I make sure that if a box of his contains something she isn’t allowed to freely explore-is pulled out and put up when he is not using it. Otherwise, she is free to explore!IMG_4509

The cutest thing she did had to be when she pulled out K’s foam ABCs and handed them to me so I would “animate” them. I moved them around and made the letter sound, and then tickled her with the letter…she LOVES this!!!!



IMG_4520 IMG_4523

Here she was giving the C some lovin…

IMG_4527 See more ideas for play with the Foam ABC puzzle here on Totally Tots!

She did the same thing with the Twister game, she loves to spin the spinner and always asks me for help!!!


I continue to rotate our magnet set on the dishwasher and she continues to LOVE the magnets!!! She plays for awhile at this spot every single day, usually multiple times per day. We have an old Franklin set up there now {a consignment sale find}. Before this set I had dinosaurs up and she LOVED those!!!



Sibling play time is still one of my favorite things {even if the boys do whine and fight sometimes}. This day the goal was to see how high they could stack the blocks {from her walker toy} before L knocked the tower down!IMG_4450

Her Leapfrog table continues to be one of her favorite things!IMG_4539

She loves her hair accessories! I put all of her mini scrunchies in a bottle and she thinks it is fun to take them all out, put them back in and try to screw the lid on herself! IMG_4581

I finally felt like she was a good enough “stander” to play in the water table and oh did she ever LOVE IT!!!!! She was soaked when she was done and probably stood there and played happily for over 30 minutes!IMG_4665IMG_4585 After water time, she got a hammock ride with Daddy…IMG_4672


Life SchoolHer Pop Pop {Daddy’s Dad} was here for a visit, and she adores time with Pop Pop. They loved reading and rocking together!!!! One of her favorite books lately is My First Signs.IMG_4324

Moms Favorite

Not my favorite of me, but I LOVE this picture of HER!!!!!IMG_3691-2

We were waiting to go eat dinner and I caught a few of her with her Daddy, who she calls “Da-din” I love seeing these 2 together, they love each other so very much! I also couldn’t believe how perfectly sprouted her cute hair was!!!



This Weeks Tools


Out of the Zone ~ Details about Calvert

I have been asked so many times by so many wonderful readers if I would begin to blog more about my experiences with Pac Man.  I have been reluctant to do this because it is SO far out of my comfort zone and I feel I have nothing to offer.  A kind reader commented on last week’s Pac Man post that it would be helpful for me to actually share what is like to be “Out of My Comfort Zone” which has inspired me to create a new feature on my blog {hopefully weekly} to share something regarding Pac Man and his schooling.  3rd grade and beyond is not comfortable for an early childhood educator ;-), so everything I will share about him officially falls into being out of my comfort zone!  I am excited about learning along with him and growing as a teacher and mom through our experiences over the years.  When out of my zone, I tend to learn the most!

I do better with features on my blog {so I don’t forget}; Tot School, Raising Rock Stars Preschool  Behind the Scenes, Preschool Printables, Raising Rock Stars, In My Spare Time, Thank You.  It just seems to make sense to add a new feature to help me remember!

For the past several weeks I have been labeling Pac Man’s posts “Pac Man Loves” but soon realized that he may not love everything I share about!!!  ;-) I will now be calling these posts…

out of the zone2

For my first Out of the Zone post I thought I would share my initial thoughts about our big ol’ stack of Calvert supplies now that I have planned out our first 40 lessons.  We have bumped our start date back a week due to major construction going on to renovate the new schoolroom, so I have a bit more planning time built in now!

Calvert 3rd Grade Homeschool Details

Specifically this is what we got in our Calvert 3rd Grade box…

image Here are the subjects that are not published by Calvert, but are used within the Calvert program {I linked if I could find it online}.  You can see the inside of any of the books on the Calvert website itself using their awesome interactive features.

Calvert has it’s own math program, which we like a lot-it works really well for Pac Man and he LOVES math.  Calvert also publishes a few of their own resources; one I really love this year is called A Child’s Study of Famous Americans.

We also have access to these awesome online resources, the computer component is truly amazing.

I just found this website which helps you find out if you are able to receive Calvert free of charge in your state.  You have to fill out the form and I guess they get back to you.

I have planned out the first 40 lessons of 3rd grade and I am excited!  It is a FULL schedule and will about double the workload Pac is used to.  Next week I plan to share my planning forms and how I have our days planned {I will provide downloads in case anyone else is using Calvert 3rd grade {my forms are specific to this program}.

As we move along I will try to share what is/isn’t working for us and what I think of different parts of the program. After browsing through the books, I am really excited and pleased.  I really like the changes and think this will be a great fit for Pac Man!