Stacking Up the Learning

Stacking Up the Learning Themed 1st Day

As a homeschool family, we enjoy marking the beginning of a new school year in a special way.  We set aside the very first day as a ‘fun day’ with a chosen theme, food, related Scripture, and activities!


Although the theme is typically kept secret from the kids until the morning of the first day, this year they had a little hint.  I requested, a week beforehand, that they each needed to be prepared to arrive to breakfast dressed as a book character of their choice.

Here’s the cast of characters that showed up on our first day of school this year…


Chaya from Jennifer Nielsen’s Resistance, Hermione from Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Cole from Brandon Mull’s The Five Kingdoms series, Sherlock Holmes from The Lock and Key series by Ridley Pearson, and Petra from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card!

And, the surprise theme was revealed…


Stacking up the Learning!

We began our day with our tradition of first day notes at the table, a Scripture reading, and, of course, cupcakes for breakfast – this time ‘stacked’ pancake cupcakes.



I think these Scriptures are very fitting for the theme.  For, even though each year our children are gaining academic knowledge and skills, it’s even more important to remind ourselves to continue to add to our learning of God’s Word, hiding it in our hearts, applying it, and growing in godly character and Christ-likeness.

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After breakfast, they all completed their yearly Growing in Grace sheets (updated this year) and wrote encouraging notes to their siblings. These were later shared during lunch.

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Next, I had them grab their character’s book and head to a comfy spot.  They took turns drawing a ‘Find the Quote’ card and then they all searched their books for a line that would fit the prompt.  For example…’Find a quote that could be used as step 5 in my evil plan to take over the world.’  Or, ’Find a quote that could be used as a sentence that would sound great if read in a Southern accent.’  It was hilarious and turned out to be a perfect, engaging game for our wide age range of children (ages 17 to 9) this year!

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They then participated in a silly, friendly competition of book balancing.  A few may have got creative on how they chose to balance their books.

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Next, they enjoyed a snack of gummy ‘book’ worms, watched a couple videos on literary elements, and used Jenga blocks to play Story Element Stack.  (This was super easy for my older kids, but they were good sports!)



For lunch, they constructed and ate tortilla sandwich books.



The kids then enjoyed a game of Literature Pictionary!  They took turns selecting a card containing a book title (well known children’s books, middle grade fiction, and some popular young adult titles). On their turn, they used a dry erase board and markers to draw clues for their siblings to guess the book.



Last, I gave them a large, open-ended project that they worked on the rest of the afternoon. They divided into teams and set to work creating a video book review or book trailer for a favorite book or series of books.  They loved scripting, finding props, acting, and filming their videos.  These were later shared with family at the end of the day.



Oh, we also ‘stacked’ chocolate and marshmallows on top of graham crackers – enjoying yummy s’mores over the fire pit.  =)

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A few things I wanted to do, but that we didn’t have time for were…
-Photo Shelfies  (taking photos of each child with their favorite books behind them on a shelf)
-Watching an online tour of book printing and binding
-Creating Watercolor Book & Verse Quote Posters and Book Marks

(Maybe we’ll sneak these in some other time!)


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Here’s to another great year of learning!

Free Printable First Day of School Signs

First Day of School Signs

As you and your children embark on another new school year, don’t forget to capture the excitement of the first day!

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Enjoy these free printable Grade Level Signs for preschool through 12th grade. They are ready for any calendar year as they contain no dates.

K Level Sign 12th Grade Sign

This is a simple tradition that, if done yearly,  allows you to see just how much your sweet little people have grown each year!

First Day Signs









A Mysterious Benedict Society Themed 1st Day

Mysterious Benedict Society Themed 1st Day (1)


Meet Kate, Reynie, No. 2, Sticky, Mr. Benedict, Constance, and Rhonda Kazembe!


If you are familiar with The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, you know that these are the heroes and heroines who save the world from Ledroptha Curtain and his menacing Whisperer.

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During the spring and summer, our family thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to Mr. Stewart’s entire series.   Everyone appreciated the books so much that I sent my mom on a secret quest for small red buckets in anticipation of a Mysterious Benedict Society themed first day of school!



We began the first day by looking at the newspaper, so that, just like the kids in the books, they would discover an advertisement for attending a session of special tests for gifted kids.  The theme was revealed in an instant and smiles abounded!


Next, I hand delivered each of them a wrapped package.  Each package was identifiable with their name as well as with a character’s name from the story.  Clothing fitting for the character was inside each package.



And then, everyone was transformed…

Reynard (Reynie Muldoon): 
Reynie is great at solving riddles and complicated puzzles. He’s also a leader.

George (Sticky) Washington: 
Sticky is a superfast reader and everything he reads or sees sticks in his mind.  He never forgets anything! When he’s nervous, he endlessly tries to clean his glasses.
Kate Weatherall (AKA “The Great Kate Weather Machine”):
Kate can ‘weather’ any situation with her amazing physical and acrobatic feats. She is also known for always having her trusty red bucket filled with tools useful for anything that comes her way!
Constance Contraire:
Constance is the surprisingly useful, but completely stubborn toddler whose love for writing rude poems grates on everyone’s nerves.
Rhonda Kazembe:
Rhonda is one of Mr. Benedict’s loyal, kindhearted helpers who has an excellent memory.


After a fun breakfast with the ‘now’ traditional cupcakes, first day notes from mom, and a Scripture focus, the kids were off to take their tests!




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Just like the characters in the book series, we had our children complete 3 special tests (including the honesty test with Rhonda and the Room Challenge). ( I found a free printable test here.)

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Here is a look at a few of the other activities the kids participated in as part of our Fun First Day!


  • We filled in our 1st Day Growing in Grace Sheets and wrote Encouraging Notes to Siblings!
  • One of our older daughters created a Scavenger Hunt for her youngest three siblings.
    (Many of these were taken from the fifth book in the series called Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums.) 
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  • The kids played Mysterious Benedict Society Jeopardy. (for purchase over at TPT)
  • We all listened to an interview with the author
    It was interesting and it cleared up a friendly  family argument over the correct pronunciation of Reynie’s name!
  • The kids stretched their minds completing rebus puzzles. (We found a few for free online.)
  • I gave the kids scenarios and they had to pick up a tool from Kate’s bucket and tell how they would use it to solve the problem. (The free printable templates found here.)
  • The youngest two kids had fun competing to shoot marshmallows into Kate’s bucket.
  • We drew random names of items from a hat and then incorporated those words into poems (similar to those of Constance)!
  • We played around with Morse Code – delivering and receiving a message from one another.
  • We celebrated the end of our first day with a yummy dessert with daddy!


With a focus on teamwork, family, and friendship,
it was a very engaging and memorable first day to begin a brand new school year!

IMG_6237My favorite crew, all in character!

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