Frequently Asked Questions

I seem to be getting a lot of similar questions, so I thought I’d address some of them in one spot, so here goes…

1. What age did you start doing your prek activities with your children?

  • I started doing our prek stuff with my daughter at 3.5. Really I think this is sort of on the young side, the main reason for it was that she has 2 older siblings doing school already and wanted to have her own boxes! We started with motor skill stuff from 1+1+1 Tot Tray ideas, and it evolved into my letter of the week program!

2. How many boxes do you do with your 3 year old?

3. What is the “Workbox System”, and where do you get your boxes?

4. Where do you get all of your clipart/images for your prek activities?

  • Most of them I make them myself in Photoshop Elements 7.0. Some are public domain clipart that I find online. I do try to be VERY careful about making sure an image I use is indeed public domain before using it though. I’d rather not worry about copywrite laws!

5. What software program do you use to make your downloads?

  • I use Photoshop Elements 7.0, though at the time of this post, they have released 8.0. I find PSE very user friendly and there are TONS of free tutorials to get you started. I also use it for my digital scrapbooking. One of my favorite tutorial sites is Jessica Sprague, she offers some free ones that include graphic image downloads, as well as online classes. She is a very good instructor and her videos are great quality. Plus most of her classes come with great digital downloads to help complete your projects!
  • After creating the images, I save my photoshop files as JPGs then use a Word program and just insert the JPGinto the document. Finally I save that document as a PDF file (I use PDF Creator) and upload them to 4shared. When I post them, I simply make a link to the 4shared file for you all to download.
  • I use ACDSee 2009 to manage all of my digital scrapbook elements as well as my images for homeschool. Although Photoshop Elements 7.0 comes with an organizer, I found that once I got a certain quantity of images in it, that it was very slow and had a tendency to crash. ACDSee seems to do a better job of managing my images. Although it was fairly easy to understand, there is a “How To” class offered at Jessica Sprague for ACDSee.

6. What laminator do you use?

  • The Xyron has cartridges that you put in, so instead of “heat” laminate its “sticky” laminate, kind of like contact paper. I like it better for cutting objects out as it doesn’t peel off. They also sell adhesive cartridges so you can make stickers, as well as the magnetic laminate that is magnet on one side and laminate on the other, so you can make magnets!
  • Scotch Laminator: This is a heat laminator, and though I don’t own one of these, several people have said they love it! You can get it at Wal-mart for around $28 and the refills can be found at Sam’s club, I believe it was about $20/200 sheets.

7. Where did you buy…

  • Desks/whiteboard: I got mine from a church school that was closing for $5 each! Check craig’s list in your area for student desks.
  • Plastic Tot Trays: Lakeshore Learning $14.95 for 4 trays
  • Tiered Bookshelf: Lakeshore Learning on sale!
  • Games/Toys/Etc: I get my stuff from all over the place! One fun place to look is TJMaxx in the back they have a toy section and usually pretty good prices for Melissa and Doug toys, puzzles, books etc. I also go to They have TONS of fun educational games, manipulatives etc. Also, places like Wal-mart, Target $1 section etc, you can find great cheap stuff that can be used for school, for example I just got some fun valentine stuff, foam hearts that I’ll put numbers on for my dd to count and sort by color/size etc. And of course Michael’s and JoAnn’s as well for craft supplies. Remember “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have” Hebrews 13:5a. That said, if you can’t afford to buy something, try to think of a way to make it yourself! Popsicle sticks, paper plates, cups, beans, pom-poms etc, can all be used for sorting, counting etc. You just have to be creative!

9. How do I get started homeschooling? Click here to see my post on Getting Started!

I hope this helps answers some of your questions, if you have any other questions not addressed here, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me by clicking on the link found in the β€œabout me” section of this blog.


  1. This is so helpful. Thank you!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing everything you have found to work and obviously work well! =) I can not tell you how nice it is to see it in action and then to get good tips from an experienced Homeschooler. I am going to homeschool my 5 next year so we can go on the road with my husband…and you have given me so much confidence..that I CAN do this and also great tips. I really appreciate all you do for us "friends" around the globe! Thanks again!

  3. What a great post! I'm very content with how we homeschool and yet I can't stop reading about others! I love your preschool posts too. Thanks!

  4. hi thanks so much for all the good advice. I absolutely love the pre-writing skills, or should I say my 3 yr old does! He can't seem to get enough. Do you create those on the photoshop elements or a different program? Allyson

  5. Thanks so much for all of your helpful advice….your blog is totally my favorite homeschool blog….by far!

  6. Thank you for sharing all of those wonderful resources. I have a lot of reading/researching to do! =)

  7. I LOVE this blog! I just found it and I could spend hours here. I am going to be homeschooling next year and am already working with my almost 5 year old, but am a little nervous about working with my 3 year old boy more. These are great ideas without overloading the little ones! Thank you!

  8. Thank you for sharing what works in your homeschool. I stumbled across your blog a few months ago, fell in love with how you use workboxes, and now we're implementing them ourselves. I just blogged about you in my recent post about how they are working for us. Thanks!

  9. I read through all your FAQ and my question wasn't answered so I am going to ask it. I know you have 400 followers so I'm sure you don't have time to answer everything but I'd really appreciate an answer. I teach preschool and I too make a bunch of worksheets and things for my students to use (although yours are cuter). I would love to know how you upload them into a system so others can veiw them and use them too. Do I have to save them as a certain file type? I've tried to save them as pngs but they don't open and jpegs open too small to be able to be read. I see that you use 4shared but I don't even know how to begin with that. If you get time please email me Thank you for all of the amazing things you put out for others to use.

  10. Shelli,I updated question #5 to explain what I use to make the files into PDFs and where I store them! I also sent you an email πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  11. Hi, just letting you know I linked to this page, specifically for the workboxes. I mentioned them in my post and wanted to provide a link. You have such a great system!!!Here's the post:

  12. Also – what do you do to occupy the little one? My 2 year old likes to "Help" too much!

  13. Hi, first off, I LOVE your blog. I visit often and use your alpha letters all the time! I have a question for you regarding your blogging. I am trying to start a blog mainly for my out of town family to see what we are doing. I am starting it on since I am new to blogging and they seem pretty easy. They only have settings that let either everyone see or only users see. Since most of my family are not users, I was thinking of just marking it as everyone. Would you recommend this? I am planning on posting pictures of the kids and that makes me nervous. I'd love to hear your thoughts since we are in the same situation generally. Jennifer

  14. Jennifer: Hi, I'm not sure how to contact you, so I'll reply here: I think you have to figure out what your point of blogging will be. If you mark that everyone can see your blog then anyone can see it! You could always just make your family sign in with an acct to see your kids? If you're not planning on sharing homeschooling stuff with the blogging world, I think I'd probably just tell my family that they have to create an account to see our photos.If you are planning on sharing with the homeschooling community, then like I said, I'd just be careful about what you post.I basically try not to use my kids names anywhere, I also make sure they are fully clothed for any shots I take of them if possible.Although according to my husband, if people really want to find you they will. I just want to minimize strangers coming up to my kids at the park and knowing their names you know?Hope that helps!

  15. I love your blog. I didn't see my question answered in the FAQ, so if you have a minute I would like to know what printer you use. I have a cheap printer that gives me trouble when I use cardstock and the cost of printing in color seems alot. I tried using your printouts last year, but this was stopping me. I really want to use your letter of the week, but need a more cost effective way of printing everything. What do you use?Thanks,Lori

  16. LORI: I have a Canon i9900 which I LOVE, but its a large format printer (13"x19") I got it for printing 12×12 scrapbook pages, so you probably don't need anything that big for homeschool printables.I have heard good things about HP & Epson Printers if you're looking for a new one though.I also have a friend who is going to try printing through she says they are pretty cheap, not sure about quality though she's going to let me know!

  17. You may have answered this somewhere else BUT, is your preschool curriculum download (or CD) compatible with Linux?

  18. OCEAN: I'm assuming that it is compatible with Linux, it is just PDF files, so if you can read those you should be good to go!

  19. I was wondering if your friend ever let you know how the copies from turned out? I was looking at getting some items printed there, but with their prices so low, i was a little nervous. I was hoping someone else had used them and could share their experience. Thanks!

  20. This may seem a bit perfectionistic of me and I am working on it, but my sister and I have printed off some of the cards to laminate and noticed they all your web site on them. I do not want to steal the ideas but is there a way to get them without the website showing? If we buy the letter of the week system, is this still on them or will it be removed. Thanks ever so much πŸ™‚ Heather

  21. Hi Heather,Sorry but my website is on everything I put up to note the item is copyrighted, so it will appear even on the purchased version.Thanks for understanding!

  22. I totally get that and I love all your stuff. Thanks for all you do! It is amazing. Heather

  23. This may seem like a silly question but I'm clueless when it comes to laminating. For all the smaller pieces, do I need to cut them prior to laminating or can I laminate and then cut them out? Thanks!

  24. NICOLE: It depends on the type of laminate. I use sticky laminate so I laminate the whole sheet then cut out the pieces. I've also done that for the heat laminate, but you do run the risk of it peeling off.

  25. HI Erica,
    I was referred to your website by two different friends and I really admire your creativity, organization, and ease of operation available to the rest of us. I’m starting off slow, a letter a week for just an hour a day picking and choosing activities appropriate for my 3 yo son. I have since recommended your site to other moms and they also love your site. I have 2 quick questions for you: 1) What in the world do you do with your TinyTot (how old is she by the way?) while you’re teaching your other 3? Right now I do “school” with my 3 yo during my 16 mo’s morning nap, but I know she’s going to need to drop that nap any week now. I’m scared stiff of the trouble she will get into being unsupervised, or the abandonment of my son b/c she needs so much attention. She doesn’t seem ready to participate or play on her own like your cutie. 2) In your intro blog post and again in your Enrichment #1 post you mentioned that you were initially not positive about homeschooling (much as I am), and you linked to a “Why we homeschool” post, but the link seems to just loop back to the same 2 posts. Would you be able to direct me to your post? I’d love to read it as I am so hesitant to make this decision. Thank you so much for your servant’s heart for your children and the Lord and your willingness to share it all with the world. We are all blessed because of you.

  26. Samantha says:

    Hey Erica- I just purchased the Xyron 900 and I was wondering….do you use it only for laminating? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Samantha,
      NO! I use it for stickers, and also magnetic laminate as well. You can make magnetic puzzles, and the letter builders, lots of fun things :o)

  27. Hi Erika, Our homeschool wants to order the co op version of the expedition earth.
    Could you please tell me how many pages in total. we are trying to figure out whats more cost effective for our parents.
    I also assume that they are color pages rite?
    Thanks so much.

    • Hi Valeria, The Teacher’s Manual is 168 pages, some are color, most are black and white. The Student Workbook is 117 pages, and again, most are black and white, but some are color like maps for each section and the mini-books for the world lapbook. Hope that helps!

  28. I was wondering what font you use to create your tracing cards, poke pages, etc.

  29. I am looking for a curriculum to do for a 2 day a week/ 2.5 hours each time co-op preschool with 4-6 3 and 4 year old children. I looked into the Joy School program, but really don’t want to pay that much money. I just had a big move to Korea, so am late in getting started for the school year. Because of this, I feel like I need some help with the curriculum and materials. I love the sounds of your program, all the creative ideas, how fun it sounds, and the amazing price! As a Christian, I also love how you incorporate Bible verses, stories, etc. How do you think it would work for a program like I’m starting up?

  30. Bettina S says:

    Hi Erica,

    I am interested in your geography combo download. I have 2 students that will be using this curriculum. How do I print this out? It would cost an arm and a leg to do home printing. Does the download allow me to have it printed at a printing service? Just let me know. I would like to print it all and place in a binder for 2 students. Thanks πŸ™‚

  31. Hi Erica, I visit your site regularly, and thank you for your standard of organisation. My son is in (what we call in Australia for 5 year olds) Prep Year next year. So have been doing schooling using many of your resources. I am a teacher, with 20 years experience, and finding I’m relearning ‘how to start’ teaching. Great website. God continue to bless you. Keep up the good work.

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