Saturday, October 25, 2014

Where are the Homeschooling Materials?

As a classroom teacher, I always had so much “stuff” that I “needed” to teach.  So, when we decided we were going to home school our children while living in an RV, I had to re-look at what I really “needed” to teach – and then I had to figure out where to put it!


First, what did I absolutely need?  Books!  Although we got rid of a few English books, we kept the majority of our kids’ English books and purchased additional French and Arabic kids’ books so that the kids would have a lot of options for quality reading materials – both fiction and non-fiction.  Additionally, we purchased a Kindle Fire for our 2nd grader (the 5th grader already had one), so that he would have additional e-book options. 


We store pleasure reading books under one side of the dinette and in the three drawers in the boys’ room. 

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Rakis


Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

Since we are homeschooling not only in English, but also in French & Arabic – languages that I am not a native speaker in, I felt it was very important to have curriculum books for this work.  This helps me make sure I cover all of the right grammar rules and keep the kids practicing skills like reading the directions and using important vocabulary. (In English, the kids mainly use materials that I make and sell in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.)  We keep these curriculum books in the boys’ “locker”, where they each have a shelf with their notebooks and textbooks.

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

Additionally, the boys have these white paper organizer totes that I picked up cheap at Target.  My husband screwed these down to their table and the boys keep their current pleasure reading books, their kindles, cameras, and headphones (as well as other random “kid stuff”) in these white totes.  After books, the next most important homeschooling supplies are office and art supplies like crayons, paint, scissors, pencils, etc.  We keep these supplies organized in ziploc bags, which fit nicely into this single drawer.  The drawer fits on the boys’ table in between their white book totes, and also provides them with a place to hold library books!


Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki


Rather than having a lot of manipulatives, we tend to use toys and games to help illustrate math concepts, and to allow our 3 year old to play with different concepts like taller and shorter or how many blocks long is that?  We also use a bunch of food supplies for math manipulatives – for ideas about this check out my blog post: Math Manipulatives from Your Kitchen

We keep the toys – wooden blocks, legos, soldiers, cars and marbles – in milk crates underneath our desk/table. 

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki


We keep puzzles and games – pattern blocks, scrabble, perfection, and a variety of board games – underneath the other side of the dinette.


Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

The last element of our home school supplies is technology.  As I already said, each of the big boys has their own kindle, which helps with reading, online research, watching their “listening videos” and the creation of some projects.  For projects that require a PC, the boys share a laptop (and sometimes use mine). 


Two random pieces of our organization process are: the boys laminated to-do lists, which hang on a bulletin board in their room, and the two kitchen timers that we use to set time limits on work – and play – time.

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

We are now officially finished with our first two months of homeschooling, and have really found the “swing of things”.  We have changed our organization over the past two months, putting the items that get used regularly in more accessible places.  Having these items organized makes the day go smoother and leads to more learning!  For more information about our home school schedule and our home school curriculum, check out this post from the beginning of the school year.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Portable Garden

One of the best ways to eat local, fresh, organic food is to grow your own.  While this can be a challenge in an RV, a small pot garden is our current solution.  Here is what it looks like:

Portable pot garden - great for living in an RV - RVing with the Rakis

We are growing broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce and mint. We chose plants that are appropriate for this growing season, so the boxes stay outside unless we are on the road.  When it is time to transport, the boxes fit under the dinette, in the bathroom, and on the dashboard. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014


After three years away, my boys and I are making the most of Halloween this year, and this started with pumpkins.  The boys picked out three of the BIGGEST pumpkins I have ever seen.  This morning, we carved those pumpkins into some pretty cool jack o’lanterns. 


 Pumpkin fun in our RV - from RVing with the Rakis

Then, we picked out the seeds and roasted them on the fire.


Pumpkin fun in our RV - from RVing with the Rakis

And we cut up the left over pumpkin – from the eyes, ears, noses and mouths of the jack o’lanterns and used them to make pumpkin pie!

 Pumpkin fun in our RV - from RVing with the Rakis


What a fun, and delicious way to start out the Halloween season.  Being in a motor home gave us the perfect excuse to do almost the entire job outside, which means less mess in my house!!!


Happy Halloween!



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Storing Kid Art in an RV

My kids love to draw, color and paint, but this 30 foot RV doesn’t have room for piles and piles of kids’ artwork.  So, how do we store artwork without having piles of papers everywhere?  Here are a few of our solutions:


1.) Take a photo!  My kids are much more likely to let me throw things out if I have a picture where they can save their art or creation forever.  My 7 year old even let me throw out this amazing salt map he created because he knew we had a picture for his Country Study project.  We store our photos in Photobucketfind more ideas for Photobucket at this blog post I recently wrote.


2.)  Chalk!  Let the kids play with chalk, they can draw twenty pictures, which are quickly erased by the rain and I have nothing to store.


3.) Virtual Art!  Let kids draw on the computer or tablet.  There are tons of specialized apps, programs and websites, but my kids have always had a great time just playing with paint or layering shapes in Power Point.  Also, movie making websites satisfy the same creative needs in many children.


4.)  Make gifts!  Many of the paintings and drawings my kids make get signed at the bottom and given away as gifts to their loving grandparents and aunts.


5.)  Build with Nature!  My kids love to glue sticks together and pile rocks into sculptures.  These creations can either be put back to their natural form or burnt in a campfire.  To preserve the creation before destruction – snap a photo!



6.)  Edible Art!  Have kiddos decorate cakes and cookies or create those cutsie Pinterest snacks.  Once they have finished, snap a photo and then gobble it up.


7.)  Keep a scrapbook or journal!  I hate having paper lying around, so unless the kids are using paint or playdough, I try to keep their drawings in their journals.  A notebook of drawings seems to take up so much less storage than 20 random pieces of paper which create clutter!


8.)  Dry Erase Boards!  Like chalk, kids can draw and erase over and over.  If a kid wants to save a picture he has drawn – snap a photo!



9.)  Photography as an Art Form!  Hands kids the camera and see what they can come up with.  Then, create a video collage of their photography.

sammy took the pictures

10.) Fashion Design!  Let kids decorate white t-shirts with fabric paint.  Or let them cut out designs from different fabrics and glue them together into designs on white sheets and use this for skirts, capes for dress up, or even curtains.


What handy art storage trick do you use?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids

Being back in the United States has reminded me of how lucky we are to have such amazing programs available to us for free or cheap.  Between story time, home school classes, hikes, museum visits, and Junior Ranger badges, we have been very busy lately! If you are looking for field trip opportunities – for a classroom or a home school family or just an educational weekend trip, consider these options:


Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids - Great for home schoolers and road schoolers - from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis. 1.) Libraries:  Most libraries offer more than just the chance to check out books, they also offer access to computers and a myriad of different kids activities.  At the Cartersville Public Library here in Georgia, my kids have attended story times, a snake visit, chess club, computer coding class and Lego building day.  Some libraries also offer programs like book clubs and pairing up older and younger children  for buddy reading.  While you need a library card to check out books, most libraries don’t ask for your library card to attend these programs, making them a great “go to” field trip option for families on the road.  Most of these programs are free, although a few may require a materials fee.


2.) State & National Parks or Monuments:  Not only are state parks, national parks and national monuments great places to go and hike, they also sponsor amazing learning programs for kids. I have written before about the Junior Ranger program that the National Parks provide, but state parks provide lots of programs too.  Some, like Red Top Mountain Park here in Georgia, even have lists of home school and weekend classes.  My kids have attended nature story times, map reading classes, creative building sessions and art classes.  In addition, these parks often host weekend festivals with historical re-enactors or musicians.  Most of these programs are free, although a few may require a materials fee.


Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids - Great for home schoolers and road schoolers - from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis 3.) Museums – big and small:  Museum admission is a great day field trip without anything extra, and that goes for the big, fancy museums and the small, local museums.  Recently, my kids and I talked about the Civil War, the creation of the Cherokee Alphabet, the economics of politics, the changes in the school system and the evolution of technology all during a visit to the Bartow County History Museum.  In fact, while I love large museums, sometimes small, local museums make for better field trips, since they are more focused and allow you to get in and see everything without having to rush.  (See my blog post about Making Curriculum Connections with Museum Field Trips.)  In addition to regular exhibits, museums often offer classes for home schoolers and special programs for larger groups.  Within the next month, my kids are signed up to take a class on art history, one on the civil war, and one on the life of colonists.  These classes require fees, although some may be included in the cost of admission and many are very reasonable ($3 - $10 per kid)


4.) Universities:  Many colleges and universities have outreach grants and special programs that allow them to provide classes and programs for those who do not attend the university.  Georgia Tech, for example, provides science classes for elementary aged students once a month – on a Saturday.  I have also attended Jazz concerts and exhibits on the Holocaust, all provided by local universities.  Some of these programs are provided for free, while others are available for a charge.


Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids - Great for home schoolers and road schoolers - from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis 5.) Zoos & Aquariums:  Like museums, zoos and aquariums are often great places to visit for no special reason.  However, like museums, they also often offer special classes.  The Atlanta Zoo offers entire courses for home schoolers and specialized programs for larger groups.  Additionally, many zoos and aquariums offer reduced admission on certain days for home schooling families. 


As a road schooling family, one of the first things to do when you stop in an area, is to check out websites for the libraries, parks, museums, universities, zoos and aquariums in the area.  Often special programs will be listed on their websites.  Also, if you stop somewhere to simply explore with the family, ask at the desk, or check the bulletin board.  Often places advertise cool events, classes or festivals that are upcoming at their facility.