How-To Start a Homeschool Club

How to Start a DIY Homeschool Club has been a project based weekly part of our homeschool curriculum this past year. This summer, I am excited to say, we are starting a DIY Club with our homeschool co-op group. (Read why I am choosing Homeschool over a Summer Break) My son loves the projects and he will have so much more fun creating them with friends. Every two weeks we will meet up with the goal of earning a new skill patch. In order to earn a patch, each child has to complete 3 challenges. The first 2 we will do as a group. The 3rd will be the homeschooler’s choice to complete. In case you are interested in starting a DIY Club with your homeschool group (or your children’s friends), I’ve decided to share how we are setting up and running our club.

Club Setup

Step 1: Choose a Name

For our name, I simply used our group’s acronym with DIY: FAHA DIY. You can of course name it whatever you like. My only suggestion is to keep the name broad, so you do not seem limited to a topic. For example DIY Foresters might lead members to believe they will only be working on Forestry skills.

Step 2: Choose a Hashtag

Hashtags are not really a necessity. The reason you might want one is so your homeschoolers can easily browse and follow their fellow DIY members. Also it works well if you share photos on social media or want to recruit members. Our hashtag matches our name: #FAHA_DIY.

Step 3: Outline Meetings & Skill Patches

You don’t need to plan ALL your meetings and skill patches up front. However I do suggest you schedule at least the first 3 meetings. suggests clubs meet at least once a month. Our group will be meeting 2-3 times per month with the goal of earning a patch each time. In order to do this you need to decide which challenges your group will be doing to earn the patch. You can do all 3 challenges together or you can do 2 together and let the kids choose their 3rd.

The First Meeting

DIY Club Member Skill Patch

There are many skill patches to earn on DIY and they keep adding more. So for our first patch as a group we are going to earn our Club Member skill patch. I’ve invited our members to join us at a local park on the group’s Meetup page and created a worksheet for one of the challenges.

Challenge No. 1
Design Your Club’s Logo

For this challenge I created a worksheet of sorts so the kids can easily create their logo, add their DIY member name, and share it with our group’s Hashtag. The worksheet features an empty hexagon so they can make a patch-like logo, or they can create their own from scratch on the blank side of the paper. The kids will need something under their paper so I will be putting together some upcycled cardboard clipboards. Crayons, markers, and colored pencils are also on my list of supplies to bring.

Challenge No. 2
Capture Your First Meeting

Bring your Camera! This step is important for every DIY project. You’ll need to take some pictures and sometimes videos of your children’s projects so they can put them on their profiles and earn skill patches. For this challenge I will probably take a group photo of the kids working on their first challenge. Parent tip: candid photos are best. Especially where younger kids are concerned. Modeled photos often take the fun out of things for kids and make them irritable.

Challenge No. 3
Kids Choice

For the third challenge, the kids will choose their own challenge from the skill patch page. They can do the challenge at our meeting or at home if they wish. When they finish their challenges they will upload their projects for approval by the DIY staff. In the comments they can include our groups hashtag so all or group can see each other’s progress.

Have you tried with your homeschool? Share your club hashtag in the comments below.

30 Days of Blog 2017: Day 10

Extended Deadline for Summer 2017 Magazine

Grove Dispatch: Ocean Tide Summer 2017 Magazine

Deadline Extended

The deadline for the Grove Dispatch Summer 2017 Magazine: Ocean Tide Expedition, has been extended from June 11th to June 18th. So if you are interested in sending in ocean themed projects with your homeschoolers, there is still time to get them completed and submitted.

Learn More


Free Download

You can also download a FREE short story writing guide for your homeschoolers in 5 STEPS TO WRITING A WILDLIFE SHORT STORY.

Let’s Work Together

If you have any questions or want to brainstorm some ideas, contact or use one of these writing prompts:

  • A sea turtle hatches on the beach and must figure out how to get to the ocean.
  • The coral reef is in danger. A seahorse with the help of friends, works to make the reef healthy again.


30 Days of Blog 2017: Day 7

How To Make a Papier Mâché Adventure Hat

Finished Papier Mâché on The Pinecone Grove

My son and I work on a weekly DIY for homeschool. Sometimes the projects stretch out over two weeks when they need time dry or some such other step. This project was one of them. As much as my son LOVES rockets, remote control vehicles, math, and inventing things, the projects he has been really drawn to are the challenges in the Paper Crafting and Bookbinding skills on Two weeks ago he officially finished a Papier Mâché Adventure Hat (I made one too) and earned his Paper Crafting skill patch. Here is how we made them.

First off, I just want to say I have been spelling papier mâché incorrectly all my life. (I always thought it was paper mache.) Love learning something new everyday. Another bonus to the homeschooling lifestyle. On that note, I’ll get to the fun stuff.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a lot of work in progress photos this time around. Probably because it was so messy. Before we made the hats though we mixed flour, water, and food coloring to make paint. Then we mixed a separate batch of flour and water as glue.Papier Mâché Paint for DIY project on The Pinecone Grove

Completed Papier Mâché Paint for DIY project on The Pinecone Grove

We measured our heads and cut a hole in cereal boxes to fit. Then we blew up balloons (left over form my sister’s twin gender reveal party) inside of the cereal templates to the size of the hats we wanted.

Next came the actual papier mâché part. In the past I have always used newspaper, however we no longer have newspapers at home so we repurposed tissue paper. I do NOT recommend this alternative because it took more than 6 layers to make each hat. Still they turned out very durable and much more like a construction hard hat than I expected.

papier mâché hat balloon mold on The Pinecone Grove

Finally, we painted them. Emmett had fun using all the colors he made. I used the deeper blue jean color for mine. This project probably took us longer than any of our other DIY project because of the time it took to dry between layers. However, we both had a lot of fun making a mess, and crafting something so fun together. I’ve ordered his patch which we will be sewing onto an adventure bag as soon as it arrives. I’ll be sure to share more about that soon.

Finished Papier Mâché on The Pinecone Grove

What papier mâché projects have you and your little explorers tried?

30 Days of Blog 2017: Day 6

Mompreneur Made the Perfect Mix of Hashtags

Helpful Tips from Mompreneur Cody at Lu & Ed

Favorite Mompreneur

Hey fellow handmade biz owners! I have someone terrific to tell you about and her latest post that will help you with the social media posts for your business. Meet mompreneur Cody from Lu & Ed!

Meet mompreneur Cody from Lu & Ed!
Meet mompreneur Cody from Lu & Ed!

Cody from Lu & Ed has long been my favorite #mompreneur. She loves her kids. Her business is awesome. Encouraging other small biz owners is something she is always finding time to do. Since December 2016, Cody has been “researching, experimenting, and perfecting the perfect mix of hashtags for a handmade business.” Not only that, she has put them into sections based on post type to make it easier for your to use the ones you need. If you have not been introduced to Cody yet or heard of Lu & Ed, you totally should. She will be your favorite mompreneur too.

Tag Bundles

“There’s a various amount of tags in each group, and several are repeated in different groups. Repeated tags are great for use on basically any post about handmade businesses! Then there are some that are highly targeted for specific types of posts, from WIP images to finished products to selfies & more! I set it up this way so you can copy & paste directly from this list into your IG posts, then add your own curated tags specific to your medium – for instance, I usually throw in tags like #monstertoys, #toystorage or #instagramkids for my Mon-stor posts.

“If you make jewelry, you will want to put in specific tags – #handmadejewelry #datenight #wedding #bridetobe #prom and so on! For drawing or painting or art makers, you will want to use specific tags like #prismacolor #penandink #drawing #watercolor and on and on. These little tag packets just help you get started!” – 100+ hashtags for handmade businesses… by Cody

Read, Bookmark, & Pin

Read, bookmark, & pin “100+ hashtags for handmade businesses, makers and small shops + tag hacks!” by Cody from Lu & Ed. You can thank me later 😉

5 Steps to Writing a Wildlife Short Story

Free Download 5 Steps to Short Story Writing

Looking for a homeschool summer writing activity? How about students writing a short story for a wildlife homeschool magazine? Download this FREE guide for your student to work on their summer wildlife short-story. When they are finished, you can submit their story and any illustrations they may want to include.

The Pinecone Grove has refreshed the mini-magazine into a homeschool oriented wildlife digital magazine. This season’s theme is Ocean Tide. You can learn more about the quarterly publication in my article: Grove Dispatch: Summer 2017 Digital Magazine.

Parents, if you are also interested in writing a wildlife short story for kids, you can submit your story in this summer’s magazine issue too!

5 Steps

to Writing a Wildlife Short Story
for the Grove Dispatch



Step 1: Characters

Create a character or three, give them a name, and write or draw something that describes them.


Step 2: Discover a Problem

Give your character(s) a goal to solve. It can be a character that needs saving, a question that needs to be answered, or a destination that needs to be reached.


Step 3: Try, Try, Try Again

List their failures and their final success. Everyone learns by trial an error. Let your character try to solve their problem and fail. Have them try something else a second time… Then, third time’s the charm; they solve the problem!


Step 4: Put it Together

Take steps 1 through 3 and compose your short story. Try to keep your story between 500 to 2,000 words.


Step 5: Press Send

Have a guardian look over your story. Then, with permission, send your story to


Bonus Help: Still not sure where to begin? Brainstorm with a friend or use one of these writing prompts.

  • A sea turtle hatches on the beach and must figure out how to get to the ocean.
  • The coral reef is in danger. A seahorse with the help of friends, works to make the reef healthy again.

Free Download 5 Steps to Short Story Writing

Sewing Expedition Part Two

Handmade Tank Tops for 3 Boys by The Pinecone Grove

Sewing Adventures Part Two

Today: part two of my sewing adventures. I used left over fabric from my Sewing Expeditions Ups & Downs to make tank tops for my young twin nephews. Now the three cousins can match on our next beach vacation! I really love the Doodle fabrics from Jo-Ann’s that my son picked out. The prints are adorable!

Handmade Tank Tops part two by The Pinecone Grove

New Patterns!

This evening I have gotten 5 more patterns from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop to try. So naturally, I will be heading back to the fabric store tomorrow.

3 Patterns for my son & nephews: Hang Ten Rash Guard, Surf’s Up Board Shorts, and Romperalls

2 Patterns for myself: Rainier RaglanSummer Lovin’ Shorts

I am seriously hooked on using my sewing machine. It is still prone to eating fabric. Other than my paper trick, I’d like to find out how to stop that. I also need to probably clean out the bobbin compartment and add a drop of oil… Not sure what kind of oil it needs though. Guess the next step is to find a manual online that goes to my sewing machine model.


That’s all for today’s post. Just wanted to stop in and share an update for my 30 days of blog project. At the moment, my son and I are having a Transformers: Robots In Disguise tv show marathon. We have 69 episodes recorded. How many episodes do you think we will make it through before we fall asleep?

30 Days of Blog 2017: Day 3

Summer Break or Homeschool?

Homeschool in the Summer: Yes or No?

I’ve been asked a lot lately when we will finish homeschooling for the year. Some schools in our area will end a couple weeks from now while others ended a couple weeks past. If I say our last day is July 31st and his first day will be August 1st I’m likely to hear: “kids need a summer vacation.” Maybe kids do need a break that are in public school. I know I did. School was always stressful for me. Too many tests, too much homework, and too much time lost in a day. I don’t know how finished anything let alone enjoyed hobbies.

Why I want to homeschool this summer.

Make Learning Way of Life!

Keeping my son from needing a 3 month break from learning is high on my priority list for homeschooling. Once a month, we seem to take a vacation. Sometimes we camp at state park and others we travel to Disney World for a week. During our stays there are lots of hikes, expeditions, workshops, aquariums, museums, and other experiences for learning. Every vacation is a field trip to me, and my son loves it. We make travel pages and do other types of journaling to record his favorite memories. I can’t wait for our next field trip (a.k.a vacation!) We live a homeschool lifestyle.

How I Answer:

Officially, my son’s “last day of homeschool” was March 31st. Unofficially however, we are not finishing homeschool for the year. Although this is his “kindergarten” year, I have been homeschooling my son since he read the word elephant at 18 months old. Everyday there is a chance to learn something. To create something. Experiencing life by living it is educational. One should enjoy learning. Learning should not be work or a chore. So yes, I will be homeschooling this summer. That means we will read books, we will go on field trips, we will have fun projects, we will ask questions and find answers. This summer will be our best summer yet.

Will you be homeschooling this summer?
Officially or Unofficially?

Thinking about homeschooling year round?
Here are The Benefits of Year Round Homeschooling (with free printable)
by Hip Homeschool Moms.

30 Days of Blog 2017: Day 2

Sewing Expedition Ups & Downs

The Pinecone Grove Sewing Expediton

Sewing Expedition

Hand Sewing to Sewing Machine

When I was a young girl, I loved to sew by hand with my grandmother. She taught me how to add buttons, fix holes, make aprons, and get creative with thread. The sewing machine however… I gave it a few tries before it wound up in the shed. Recently, my dad pulled it out for me and I set it up in my closet office. It had a few technical difficulties. The part that holds the needle fell out in several pieces. (I didn’t even know it could do that.) Thankfully my dad fixed that the next day. Then, when I practiced sewing an old fleece blanket the machine started to eat my fabric. At that point I tossed out the idea of making all our clothes and launching a handmade clothing collection for the shop.

Renewed Motivation

Until I came across Peek-A-Boo (PAB) Pattern Shop. I subscribed. Then I joined the Facebook group. After seeing everyone’s PAB creations and reading about how easy it is to understand the patterns, I decided to finally go for it!

The Pinecone Grove Sewing Expediton

Yesterday, I bought the Tide Pool Tank PAB pattern and took my son to the fabric store. He chose 4 awesome fabrics, some thread, and wonder clips. When we got home I cut everything out and clipped them together. Then I began sewing at 7am.

The Pinecone Grove Sewing Expedition part 2

Problems & Solutions

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. My sewing machine still likes to eat the edge of my fabric. I came up with the brilliant idea of putting a small piece of paper underneath the starting edge. Then just tore it off when I was done. This worked marvelously. No more fabric eating!

I also ran into trouble with fitting the neck band to the scoop neck. Turns out it just takes a bit of practice because I figured it out on the second shirt.

When my son tried the shirt on I discovered another problem. For some reason it was too big underneath his arms. Maybe I didn’t cut or sew a completely straight line or I stretched the fabric when I was sewing it. Either way, this was an easy enough bit to hem and now they fit him perfectly.

Beach Ready

I LOVE how the shirts turned out and my son does too. They are ideal for our next beach camping trip. I can’t wait to tryout more fabrics and patterns.

This is just the beginning. I don’t know if I will get to the point of sewing all our clothes and making an earth-friendly clothing collection for kids, but I am definitely going to keep trying.

The Pinecone Grove Sewing Project finished

Stop by Instagram and tell me what projects you are working on.

30 Days of Blog 2017: Day 1