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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Evolving Homeschool

Several months back I was talking to a homeschool momma friend of mine that I hadn't talked to in awhile.  She made the comment that I had it all together and that I always had such great ideas and activities with the kids.  I laughed and told her she hadn't seen me in the last couple of years.
When I started out "homeschooling" 7 years ago, I was starry eyed and excited and only had one little girl who loved to learn and a baby boy.  I knew I wanted to make it fun for them to learn.  And time and circumstance allowed me to saturate them with learning full time.  Lapbooks, experiments, crafts, full subject content gone over every single day, field   When Chloe came along, even though I had to "slack" a bit I still ran full force ahead with it.  I made some rookie mistakes but considered this whole thing a success.
But you know the thing about life is that it tends to "happen" right when things are going smooth, or at least it seems that way.  5 years ago, things began to change on the homeschooling front.  Somethings that made me have to re-evaluate the way I did things before and how that way just wasn't working anymore.  Changes had to be made.  And that, friends, was hard.  I don't like change...
I had a complicated, tiring pregnancy with my 4th child.  At that point we did good to accomplish the 3 r's.  And the guilt crept in.  Was it possible for these kids to learn without all the bells and whistles and the fun?  By not doing projects and lapbooks was I making my kids stupid?  Of course not, but that's what my emotions were telling me.  I never got my "groove" back in the homeschooling area after Ty was born.  Then 3 years later when Jody passed we slipped into survival mode and I felt as if I was an utter failure in every area, but especially in the homeschooling area.  We were back to the 3 r's and I honestly had no energy to work up a whole lot of "fun", truthfully, the kids didn't have it in them either.
Funny thing was, they didn't become stupid!  Even without all the fluff and filler, they seemed to thrive.  Jack learned to read with very little instruction, Lillie's math took off, Chloe finally got interested in learning...Tyler survived (that's about all I can say for him).
The way we do things now has DRASTICALLY changed!  We're back in the swing of things, but it's not the same as it was when I started out.    I have said all this to say that it's ok to change.  It's ok to drop things that don't work and try new ways, it's even ok to take long breaks from "structured" learning to be a little more laid back.  It's perfectly fine to take seasons of grace when life throws something difficult in our paths to just enjoy our family.  If you love your kids, and you nurture them....if you read to them, give them opportunities to explore, keep learning fun , they won't be stupid...I promise.  Children have this amazing ability to learn in spite of our "teaching".  Homeschooling is very much an ongoing experiment.  If you find yourself frustrated because, for some reason , you can't "do" it all like you used to or life has interfered with "the way things were", can I just encourage you to not stress and don't give up out of fear or insecurity.  Veteran homeschoolers can testify to this...things change.  Educational goals, ideals , and philosophies change, curriculum changes, learning styles change,  finances change, family dynamics changes.  And change isn't's our inability to accept and adapt to the changes that's bad.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where'd the Praise Go?

I've been thinking alot about praise this last week.  What it means to me, what it means to the world, what it means to God.    Hebrews 13:15 talks about making a "sacrifice of praise" to God and to do it "continually".  So that got me wondering what a sacrifice of praise actually is.
God takes pleasure in our worship and praise of Him.  Some people would say that makes him an egotistical being.  But when you look at why He created us and if you believe that and if you could see how much he loves and does for us daily, then you wouldn't mind giving a bit of a shout-out to Him every once in awhile.  But God is moved by real, honest, sincere praise.  We tend to willingly, easily offer up praise to God when something good comes our way.  Certainly we could all spend quite a bit of time naming our blessings.  It's good to praise God in the light...but it's also easy. Praise when life is going as YOU planned doesn't cost you a thing.'s not a sacrifice.
What happens to your praise, to my praise when it becomes dark...when His plan is unknown to you...when the battle comes right to your door and kicks it in and sits on your couch?   One man in the Bible comes to mind...Job.  Job has scared me, as a Christian.  To know that , even as God's child, you may still have to endure some bad things makes me nervous.  What my family has gone through the last year is hard...but I have seen and heard of worse situations, and , while I believe struggle is struggle and that there are no problems bigger or smaller in God's eyes, still...
Job said "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."  And that wasn't a question.  That was a statement.  Man, that took guts..that  To continually offer a sacrifice of praise  is to praise regardless of your circumstances.  If we can do that, then our faith WILL grow stronger.
I think, perhaps, the praise that touches the very heart of God the most is the praise we have to struggle to bring forth.  The praise that comes from somewhere deep inside, past the circumstances, that has to fight and claw it's way through the darkness to come out.
And when the world sees that peace on you they don't understand, when they see you praising God when the chips are down, then they catch a glimpse of Jesus and what he offers to them.  Words are heard and forgotten...actions are remembered.  This kind of praise, that glorifies God and shows others the way, will take grace...heaps of it, you can be sure of that.
This song expresses it nearly perfectly...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Horse is a Horse...Of Course!

Several months back we watched the movie "Secretariat" and that really peaked the kids interest in horses.  I am a big advocate for interest based learning whenever possible.  SO, I went about hunting up resources for a unit study.  I purchased a few resources which , if you know me, is uncharacteristic.  I am a tight wad and don't usually buy things unless I have to.  However, life taking the turn it has and a few more years on in the age department, I have become more disposed to coughing up money to save me time on planning.

Amanda Bennet's Unit Study on Horses is wonderful and at under $11 for an instant download, it's a great frugal resource.  Very thorough and meticulously planned out, she is a life saver.  I will be purchasing more of her products in the future.
I also bought this lapbook kit from In the Hands of a Child.  I still made some homemade lapbooking elements for our notebooks to cover topics the project pack didn't.  I'll be posting pictures here and there as we complete them.  I don't plan on covering everything in these two resources, but still the investment was well made to use what I will out of them.  To save on time, I will post what we covered on a daily basis (or every 2 days) , the resources used and activities we've done.

My hope is that you can glean inspiration or find useful resoures in all my homeschool related posts and this one is no different.

 This is the notebooking page I made.  However, I have tweaked it and if you scroll down, you can get it for free!  My gift to you!  We covered the Andalusia and Icelandic Horses Today.
 I printed each of the kids a large world map from Owl and Mouse.  As we study the different breeds, we will paste pictures of them in the general location where they originated.  We will also be marking them on our large wall map.  These maps will go in the pocket of their Horse Notebook.
This was one of those fun splurges my kids say I NEVER make.  A 4D anatomical model of a horse and it's "inerds"  LOL.  I got this one off of Amazon.  But let me tell you, it looked alot easier to assemble than it actually was, but once we put it together once time, the kids have each assembled it many times on their own.  Except for Tyler...he'd try to eat the kidneys or some such nonsense.

FREEBIE ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have never used Homeschool Launch before or tried sharing a PDF, so I hope this works!
I am linking to a free download of the new improved horse breed notebooking page!

Ok, that's it for now...will be posting much much more as the study progresses!  Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week 3

 This week in history we moved from Ancient Egypt to focus more on Mesopotamia.  We had some really fun times.  The notebooking is working wonders so far and makes for an enjoyable time together, though we had a couple days last week where I realized I need to rethink the amount of work we do as a group...3 hours on 3 subjects is really too much for them in one sitting.  So I'm going back to History twice a week, Science 2 days and Geography 2 days...that leaves me a little flexibility...and if they want to work more on one subject than another, more power to them.

Jack's Sargon Page
 God speaks to Abraham
 Abraham's Family Notebooking page
 Geography mapping was North America and the United states regions
 Geography Foldables on Volcanoes
 Jacks' Country Report Page
This is a page from the Geo Scribe Notebooking Packet
 In science we are studying biomes and we covered the Savanna this week...
There is a site called Blue Planet Biomes that works really well with this particular notebook page.

Chloe's Sargon Page
 Chloe's Abraham Journal Page
 Lillie's U.S Regions Map Page
Chloe's Savanna Biome Page
 Chloe's Savanna Animal Report
Lillie completed the History Scribe pages for the Pharoahs as an independent project.

 For our study on Hammurabi, we acted out courtroom drama using some examples of Hammurabi's was a hoot, to put it lightly.  I've not laughed that much at my kids in a while.  I found the idea for the activity here.

Here is a lapbook element for our notebooks where the kids made up their own laws.
 Lillie's Sargon Page
 Lillie's Savanna Notebooking pages

 We've been drawing our stories from Catherine Voss' Story bible, as well as having verse memorization punch cards.  When they fill up their cards and can say all 6 verses perfectly, there is a prize in it for them...a Happy meal...which we have never bought for our kids!  I know...negligence...but it's just never something we've sprung for, though they have had a Happy Meal or 2 courtesy of loving family. LOL
Chloe's Daniel Page
 Chloe's Judges Page
 Lillie's Judges Page
 Lillie's Delilah page
 Lillie's Daniel Page
 Jack's Judges Page
 Jack's Samson Page
 Jacks Daniel Page

Friday, August 9, 2013

Week 2

Week 2 has flown by!  To be honest, I have really enjoyed morning group time!  I used to do individual basics first thing, but found that by afternoon, no one wanted to be around each other enough to sit through group time!  So, this year , I'm doing "group school" first thing and the kids really are doing well with the arrangement.  They look forward to setting up their "classroom" in the living room .  Oddly enough, however, they don't look forward to cleaning up their classroom when group work is done!

 Yesterday, after running an early morning errand, we came home and they were begging to do their history and geography notebooks!  I was shocked, pleasantly.  We ended up working 3 hours on them and could only squeeze in math for all as far as the basics went before we had company to come over.

I had initially decided to do geography every day, history twice a week and science once a week, but these kids are animals and have blown through 5 weeks of work in two weeks.  Not that I'm complaining!  I just print up about 6 weeks worth of worksheets, notebooking templates, lapbook elements, projects and hole punch them and put them in my teacher's binder. Then we just pull them out and work through them according to what the kids want to do.


Story of the World : Beginnings of Egypt.
Ancient Egypt fascinates my kids!  They never get enough of it.

 Lillie reading one of our lessons for us!

 We studied cuniform and heiroglyphs and practiced writing them in playdoh, but I didn't get any pictures...I know, shocking....

Chloe and Jack spent a good 15 minutes looking at pictures of canoptic jars..."research" for their drawings...
Chloe is such a girl!  Even after "research" her canoptic jars ended up topped with pretty flowers instead of animals and pharoahs. LOL

We watched 2 episodes of a great series called Planet Egypt.  We found it on YouTube and it's going along nicely with what we're studying.

There are other episodes as well, but this was the only one that didn't jump ahead of where we were at.


We have , so far, learned our oceans, our continents, the equator, the prime meridian, and the ring of fire.  Unintentionally, our geography has branched off into earth science as well.  The ring of fire prompted us to study a little about volcanoes and we also discussed where earth is in the solar system, the statistics of earth, and this nifty little interactive sun/earth/moon doohickey that I found on Pinterest that demonstrates earth's orbit around the sun and the moon's orbit around the earth.  What did homeschoolers do without Pinterest?!!?!?!!!
 Layer's of the Earth  found HERE....

This was an awesome short video, there were alot of good videos that were longer on You Tube, but I was just blown away (no pun intended) by this one.

Map Drills:  Map in Sheet Protector with cheap stickers for easy removal and use over and over!
Map Drill Times:  Lillie 1 min. 26 sec.
Jack: 1 min 8 sec.
Chloe 1 min 36 sec
 Fuzzy Notebooking Elements

Watched this neat little short video about Mt. Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79....

I made up a worksheet to look up the latitude and longitude of some of the kids favorite places...this site allows you to type in any place or address and it will give you the latitude and longitude.


Living/Non-Living collages

Inside and outside of mini book "Characteristics of Living Organisms".

We also studied Renewable and Non- Renewable resources and discussed the difference between a want and need.  Let me tell you that was a great conversation and very interesting to see what they thought they needed.
Renewable/Non-Renewable Resources Shutter book
 I just HAD to write down what Jack was saying during all of this.  Notice: All he needs is love, well, a wife anyhow!

Lillie Anna's was much more subdued.


Besides grabbing markers when your back is turned and doing a scribble and run on someone's journal page?  Not much!  
 However, the kid loves gluing things, so I give him a big sheet of construction paper and a pile of scrap paper and cuttings , a bowl and glue, a paintbrush and he's a happy camper till the paper runs out.
  He takes his art VERY seriously....

Odds and Ends
Jack did some Math Journaling to go along with his study of Place Value.

Okay, so that's week 2, in the books!  It's been another nice week, praying it continues on this path for weeks to come!   Tyler goes back to the orthopedic surgeon on the 20th to get another x-ray and I am praying the bone has healed!  Not sure how many more minor heart attacks I can have over his antics.  
Have a blessed weekend!