A happy heart makes the face cheerful...Proverbs 15:13

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Draw and Write..Through History

Since the beginning of this year we have been sampling many different history curriculum's. Our problem has been finding something that we could actually 'get into'. History is obviously not our favorite subject. So far, trying to do book curriculum has just been a bust. We started the audio version of Story of the World. We do not use the books with this. Instead, we made a timeline and memorization cards. So far we have really enjoyed this curriculum.
Recently, as I was looking to expand on the Story of the World curriculum, I ran into the Draw and Write through History series. My 9 year old has a passion for drawing and art so I though I'd give it a whirl.
This curriculum has a 4 book series: (1) Creation though Jonah, (2)Greece and Rome,(3) Vikings, The Middle Ages, and The Renaissance, (4) Pilgrims, Pirates, and Patriots. They also have a brand new book out, Napoleon to Lady Liberty. All books are suited for ages 8 and up, but can be used for younger students.
It combines history, drawing, and zaner-bloser cursive copy work. My 9 yr old is still pretty new to cursive, so the page long copy work is often too much for him. I will have him only do a portion in cursive and the rest in print.
My verdict on this.... Super fun. I actually enjoy sitting down and trying to do the drawings with him. Even though his are always better than mine :) Below are some of his drawing from book 3. Now, this could not be an entire curriculum, but it is a wonderful extra, or beginning. You could very easily dive into to each of these sections to create a school years worth of studies.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Nature Studies

With the first snow on the ground, it is time to transition from our Autumn to Winter nature studies. I know, some of you are thinking, I am NOT going outside in this weather. Believe me I feel that way often, but by golly if the kids can do it and have fun, I can too. We can all cuddle under blankets with hot cocoa afterward. THAT I look forward too.

Our studies for this season will include:
1. Animal Tracks
2. How salt melts ice and snow
3. Snowflakes: Up close and personal
4.Outdoor observation box
You can find note-booking pages for all of the weekly studies to the right in the winter nature study section. Observation box note-booking is listed under 'created by me' section.

Bird Watch- We are going to watch our bird feeders to see what is coming to visit.
Weather Watch- Self Explanatory :)
Moon Transition watch- Viewing the moon at night and watch its transitions from full moon to full moon.(This is also going along with our astronomy lessons.
For this I have created a few charts for these daily watches. You can find them to the right in the 'created by me' section.

Lesson Explanations:

1.Animal Tracks- Try to find any animal print in the snow. In your neighborhood, you might find rabbit, dog, cat, squirrel, bird or raccoon. We are going to the state park to try to find some lesson common prints like snake or deer. Have your child complete the note-booking page. You can take this a step further by making casts of the prints and then exploring them at home.

2. How salt melts ice and snow- You can use household or industrial salt for this project. The directions for this are explained on the note-booking page.

3. Snowflakes: Up close and personal- Catch some snow on a black piece of cloth, glove, or small piece of cardboard. Then view through the magnifying glass. You can put them in the freezer to prolong the project if needed. I would suggest pre-freezing your collection item and then putting back in the freezer for a few minutes before observing it. Complete the note-booking page. I am going to have my schoolers write(and/or dictate) a story about snow or snowflakes. Also, we will make snowflakes out of paper.
4.Outdoor observation box- With the outdoor observation box, you find a small area in your yard or local park that won't be disturbed. Measure out your box. We are going to do 1 ft by 1 ft. As you measure, place rocks or stakes in the corners of your observation box. The use yarn to square off the box. Everyday make observations, and take or draw a picture, of what has changed in the box since the last observation. For right now we plan to only do this for a week, but if the kids enjoy it like they did in other seasons we will continue. I fear they might only see a new cover of snow everyday :)

I will be sharing our studies as we complete them. Feel free to work along with us. Do you have other nature studies that you and your family enjoy?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snow...Through a child's eyes.

I think that the image we have of snow as a child compared to as adults is pretty opposite. As a child, snow is magical. Its exciting. Its fun, and we never seem to be cold while we sled and make our snow men. As adults, we freeze easy. We think about how terrible it makes the traffic, what a pain it is to shovel the drive and walkways, being driven insane by kids who cant go outside.

Could you imagine how enjoyable winter would be if we looked at snow through the eyes of our childhood? We would see the majestic image that we see in Christmas paintings. We would see the calmness, the serenity, the beauty of a street or field covered with fresh fallen snow. My goal for the rest of winter(or at least until Christmas) is to try to view winter, to view snow, through the eyes of my children. To remind myself about my childhood. The excitement I felt when I looked out the window and saw fresh snow. To look past the hustle and bustle, look past the traffic and the shoveling, look past the cold and just see...magic.

What's your favorite memory of snow from your childhood?

Cold Weather Crafts

For us here in Indiana, the 1st of December brought about the 1st snow. Now, 5 days later, we have some where between 2-4 inches. I think our top outdoor time has been 15 minutes. So, time for the crafts. Basic, simple crafts are always an easy way to keep the kiddos entertained during the cold weather. I wanted to find somethings that we could do, that would coincide with some lessons for this month. We are learning a lot about Christmas. The story of Jesus, the history behind certain Christmas symbols such as the tree, the nativity, even the yule log, reindeer(they actually exsist), and Christmas in other cultures. So, I have been able to google some kind of craft that goes with any of these lessons. Enchanted learning.com has many as well.

I have added 3 PDF files to the right in the PDF link. It has Unit studies on Reindeer, Christmas traditions(with crafts), and Christmas around the world. We are doing all 3 through out December, but focusing on the Christmas traditions as it has a craft with each lesson. You could actually do a couple a day. The other 2 unit studies contains LA, geography, science, and history.

I will be posting many of the Christmas tradition stories along with the crafts we are doing with them.

What are your favorite indoor winter activities?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 3 Nature Study: BIRDS

An injured Red tail hawk. On display while healing.

My apologies for lacking the past few weeks. We have completed all of our Autumn nature studies except for our pumpkin studies. For week 2:Trees. The boys went out with grandpa for a hike and discovered many oak trees and talked about acorns. Also, what the purpose of acorns are. They completed the note-booking pages with all of the information. I will post the pictures of their note booking pages soon.

I have to say that the bird and squirrel study was the best study this season. We tried to find birds that we are not use to seeing everyday, like cardinals and robins.
We are lucky to have a state park that has an amazing ornithology center. We were able to use interactive computers, view taxidermy birds in a habitat and watch live birds in their natural habitat through a huge viewing window.

M6 choose the hairy woodpecker. We did get to see this bird on the feeders, but could not get a picture so we had to look at it more in the research books. They had an interactive section on the computer for this bird as well. So, we got to hear its 'song'(Which is compared to that of a toucan) and its migration pattern.

L9 Chose a killdeer. (Because he liked his name) It was not around to view this season so hopefully we can actually view it in spring. However, there was a taxidermy version to view as well as the interactive section on the computer. We realized that the 'song' of this bird is one that we hear often on walks and such, but don't ever see. Here is a website to hear the killdeer song:

They each filled out a note booking page for their bird of choice.

K3 was all over the place with excitement. He enjoyed walking around with binoculars around his neck pretending to be an explorer. KJ2 Enjoyed listening to the sounds on the interactive programs. He especially enjoyed all the crazy duck sounds.

We focused a lot more on the birds than the squirrels. They boys got a kick out of the fact that the squirrels in this park are ...well....kind of obese. They looked like huge cuddly mini-cats :) They named the fattest one..chunky butt. Hey, they are boys.

I mentioned in the original post describing this nature study that you could make this a a more in depth study. You could focus a week on the new bird, its sound, and habitat. Then the 2ND week on a birds structural and internal structures, feathers, and purpose of wings.

What birds do you choose for this study? Are they local to only your state or to the U.S.?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Coupon Deals and Freezer Meals

Coupon Deals:
For the longest time I struggled with using coupons. It is just a lot of time, and sorting...ugh. I could never just sit and do it and when I did, the savings were never worth the time.
Well, recently I was introduced and revised a way to use coupons to save a good amount of money while having an organized menu.
I normally only use Meijer because they double coupons. Meaning any coupon under .50 cents, you get it twice. They also offer good sales and savings in their ads,
First, I will go through the add and circle everything that we will eat or need as a type of ingredient.

Then, I will go through all the coupons(some friends recommend a Sunday paper per member of the household). You can use more than one of the same coupon if you have the items for it.

Once I have my coupons cut and my items circled, I will make a menu off of these items.
Our menu is only based off of whats on sale or has a coupon. In most cases after the menu is complete, I look back through the ad or coupons and I am able to find a few more things that are needed for the meals.

When I started doing this, I lowered our grocery bill to $100-$160 every 2 weeks. Before, our normal bill was closer to $125 a week. I think this drop in amount is due to the fact that we don't buy unnecessary things now. When we went shopping before we would buy whatever and then we would have ingredients laying around that we wouldn't use or we would need something for dinner and not have it and have to run and get it. This way we only have what we need and have an "order" of when we will eat them.
Using this method, we have lowered our grocery cost, created a menu that just makes life easier, and has also helped us to eat healthier.

Freezer Meals:
We all know how dinner time can be. Whiny kids who are hunger, mom getting frustrated because her water isn't boiling fast enough, did I mention hungry kids? Freezer meals are a way to save you a bunch of time at dinner time.
Here are some different options:

Marinated Meat:
Buy meat such as chicken or pork in bulk. Separate it into dinner size portions and put it in a freezer safe container(or Ziploc). Add your own marinade or a bottled marinade(or BBQ sauce) and freeze it.
It will marinade as it thaws. Then just make a simple salad or veggie and boil in a bag rice and your set.

Bulking Burger:
Buy excess in ground beef, turkey, or pork. Cook it all at once and place it in meal-size portions, pre-seasoned for tacos, spaghetti, or sloppy Joe's and freeze. You can do this when you are already cooking the meat for your current dinner.

Double Dinners:
As you are making dinner for your family, make a double batch. Freeze the second batch. My favorite meals to do this with are lasagna, chili, and sloppy Joe's.

TV Trays
I have not tried this one yet, but it sounds do-able. Use your leftovers by making TV trays. After the meal put serving size portions into a pie pan or good freezable dish and cover well. This would work well for the hubby's lunch or again, a quick dinner.

Productive Pancakes:
Easy enough. Make the entire box of pancake mix(or triple your batch if yours are homemade). Freeze the rest. We love pancakes, but all the flapjack flipping can last a while when feeding 6. Great, quick alternative for breakfast.

Happy Saving and Happy Freezing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week 1 Autumn Study- Apples

Here was the lessons for week 1 of our Autumn Nature Study: Apples.
*Read Child's biography on Johnny Appleseed
*Apple Note booking page *See Nature Study:Autumn to the right*
*Venn Diagram, comparing apples
PRE-K- A is for Apple sheet *to the right in the created by me section*
Art project- Apple stamps or tree with finger print apples.
I also added a link to a Johnny Appleseed lapbook to the right if you'd like to go more in depth. Its a good history lesson.

We added an extra snack. We took apple slices and had chocolate sauce and peanut butter for dipping. Then had sprinkles, chocolate chips, and nuts for toppings.

L9 / M6

We were hoping to get to the orchard this week so we could use "not so common" apples, but instead we went with your basic grocery store golden and red delicious.
We did a lot of comparing this week. Learning how to tell the difference between two different or similar items. We used this as a lesson in adjectives as well. We found as many words as we could to describe the apples and their appearance.

Hope you had fun this week with apples. Now to move on our week 2 nature study: Trees. You can check back on my original post to find the lessons for this week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ladybugs, Ladybugs, Ladybugs

They are everywhere. Not in my garden, not on my porch, but in my HOUSE. Around nearly every ceiling light. Not sure where they came from. Lady bugs, lady bugs and more lady bugs.
First thought was obviously "kill the bugs". Its instinct right,? You see a bug, or multiple in my case, in your home, you kill it or them. As I began to slam my sandle against the wall and ceiling, I heard a screech that could have possibly woke the dead."Nooo (add feet stomping here) "My wadybugs"(Cue meltdown). Apparently, my 3 year old has been bringing them in, one by one, as he finds them outside because it was too cold for them outside.
This lead to a 10 minute cuddle session full of apologies. So, how do we find a solution to this "situation" that will not leave bugs all over my house or leave a child grieving over his lost ladybugs?

We made a ladybug habitat. I used our little fish net from our fish tank and caught about 12.

I created a notebooking sheet for notes and observations. *See created by me to the right* So we researched the internet to find out what a lady bug needs in its home to live. We used an empty prego sauce jar, put a few small sticks, pieces of grass, leaves, and a couple mist sprays of water in the jar. Add moistened raisens or small apple bits and ....Ta da...a lady bug habitat.

We will basically keep the habitat for 3-5 days and make observations every day. As far as my 3 yr old is concerned, we will keep them to warm them up and then we will let them go back outside and they will go find another warm place.

Mommy/K3 L9 M6

For us, this will only be a short study. However, this could easily turn into a longer study. You could research the types of lady bugs, learn the lady bug life cycle or learn the different body parts and sections.

I just hope that I can get rid of this creepy, crawling sensation that I continue to get. I swear they are all over me. What makes it worse is that I though we had caught them all. However, in the time it has taken me to write this, get up and check on sleeping babies..twice, and doing a load of laundry I have seen about 9 more.
Ewww. okay..just eww.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Lessons

I have to say that Fall/Autumn is my all time favorite season. It's the time when all the leaves turn into gorgeous colors that just relax your soul. It's the time where the air begins to chill. It's time for apples and pumpkins. For Halloween and Thanksgiving. It's also my favorite time to do nature studies. I love being outside during the fall season, so what better time to take the opportunity to learn about the nature that surrounds us. The studies I have chosen this year, I cannot take full credit for. I was able to print of the entire Autumn Series challenge from handbook of nature.(handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com) However, I have also created additional studies as well as corresponding studies. Here is my list of study items for each week. Feel free to follow along. I will add all attachments that I have made along with each week. This for grades Pre-K-3.
Week 1: Apples
*Read Child's biography of Johnny Appleseed
*Apple sheet for 2 different apples(draw pictures of each, words to describe apples)
*Complete Venn Diagram comparing the apples
*For Pre-K : A is for apple sheet
*Art Project:
Apple stamps(cutting the apple in half, dipping in paint, and stamping on page) Can be done on white t-shirts or construction paper.
Or Apple trees. Trace arm to elbow and hand with fingers open. Color trunk brown, Draw(or paint) in leaves. Dip your finger in red paint and make fingertip apples on tree.
Week 2: Trees
*Read a tree story. We are using this one. Moral story with comprehension questions www.kindbook.com/nature_en.htm.
*Seasonal tree journal sheet. Pick a seasonal tree. Draw it and describe its features.
*Oaks and acorns journal sheet. Find an oak tree. Draw it.Draw it's acorn. Describe its features.
*Find leaves from your trees. Talk about them and why they change and fall off.
*Pre-K- Allow your preschooler to draw trees with siblings.
*Art Project:
We are making our leaves into bookmarks by laminating them.
Or leaf stamps(done as apple stamps)
Week 3: Birds and Squirrels(You could turn this easily into a 2 week project if you would like to focus more on birds)
*Take a walk. Find a bird for each child. Research to find the name of the bird if it's not known.
*Bird Journal sheet. You might have to make a library trip to learn more facts about your bird.
*Squirrel Journal sheet. Find a squirrel print. (might have to find a picture) Describe your squirrel.
Pre-K- Color sheet of squirrel and bird. B is for Bird.
*Art Project:
Since it is nearing Thanksgiving, we are doing a hand and foot turkey. Tracing your hands and feet to make the turkey. I'll post pics to give you an idea.
Week 4: Pumpkins
*Dissect a pumpkin(or just carve one). Talk about the seeds, the goop, and the outer shell. Describe what things you can make with these items(pie, baked seeds). Save the seeds to plant.
*Pumpkin Journal Sheet
*Visit a pumpkin patch and talk about how pumpkins grow. Maybe plan to plant some next spring. There is a Pumpkin life cycle print out at enchantedlearning.com.
*Talk about some other members of the gourd family.
*Peter pumpkin eater poem. Create your own acrostic pumpkin poem.
*Pre-K- P is for pumpkin. Do some basic math with the seeds. Make a jack-o-lantern mask. *Project:
Make a pumpkin dessert. We are making Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Yum

So, there is four weeks of nature studies for you. You can add so much to these or take some things away to make them into studies that fit your children. Like I mentioned, I will add pictures of our activities every week. Feel free to add your pictures as well. I would love to hear your pumpkin recipes. If you add any material to the weekly studies, please share those as well.

Have a wonderful fall!!

Just Quiet

When you first have children, it is a difficult process getting accustomed to the difference in your household. It becomes a kid house. It's a mess, its busy, its fun, and it's loud. Well at least in my house anyway. Once that has become the norm, have you ever noticed how the quietness of no children running around can leave many different emotions? For me, I first let out a *sigh* of relaxation and then think "This is nice". Then, I start to think, '"What I am suppose to do now?"However, within a few hours my mindset will suddenly change. I begin to miss it. I miss the laughter, the crying, the yelling, the stomping, the fighting, the voices and the whispers.

When there is something so constant in your life it is difficult to be without it. This works the same with God. It is often difficult to get into a constant pattern of listening to the right music, watching the right shows, reading you Bible regularly, and Praying...a lot. Then you are able to get into this pattern. Your life really takes place and it becomes the norm. Have you had a week, even a month or longer, where you have just been out of that routine. Life just isn't the same is it? You begin to miss it. You miss when He speaks to you through his words, when he whispers to you when your having a bad day, when your crying, when your stomping, when your fighting....

Well it happens. It happens to all Christians. Sometimes life gets busy. With me, it doesn't take but a day or 2 before I miss it. I can't go with out speaking to Him and hearing Him. Knowing He is there. Even though I feel that way about my husband, it is a different experience. It really seems to lift me, to calm me, and gives the ability to think more clearly about my what I say and do. Not that my husband isn't able to do those things, but it is still...different.

My question for you: Is God constant in your life? Do you make him a part of your routine? What can you do today to add Him to your routine.

Deuteronomy 11:9(and 6:7) says: "You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise."
I don't think Moses could have been more straight forward when he wrote that. Pretty self-explanatory :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Excavating Adventure

We started the Story of the World history lessons this year(audio). The first 2 lessons were on what history is, archeology, and nomads. We decided to sit on these topics a while. "Nomad" is a very broad area to cover. So, we basically just discussed the meaning and then went to the library and read on a few known groups of nomads. They all had bascially the same lifestyle. They were people of the trade: hunters and fisherman. They lived in caves and tents. More recent nomadic groups were often labeled as outcast because most city folk declared them to be thieves and criminals. We made a shoe box dioroma of a living site with paper tents and caves. Wood fires and even put some rags for clothes on army men. Then moved the box to different locations throughout the day to represent the traveling aspect. For my younger 2, they colored some pictures of tents, teepees, caves, and early hunters.
Today, we played archeologist. Before we started on this project, we went through two books that showed the many different things that archelogist locate and where in the world they may find them.( Threw in a little geogrpahy here) We also discussed the importance of the items they find. How these pieces determine how people lived long ago.

I was able to find some inexpensive mini-excuvation kits for under $5. You can find them at this link: www.powscience.com/store/actionproducts/idigminikits.html
They do have larger ones at a higher price. The mini ones took my determined boys about an hour. I tried to get them to take a break, but they were to excited. These are made of a really fine pebble, so I suggest if you use them, to do it out doors or over a BIG table cloth or tarp.

My oldest got himself a fools gold piece. My 6 year old, an arrow head, which we are now attaching to a small, skinned down tree branch and turning into a small spear/arrow.
They learned out to use simple tools such as toothbrushes and toothpicks to be delicate and protect the item from being scratched during the digging. OR busted from being banged on the table :) If you are careful and patient then the artifact will be better preserved.

Here are some picturtes of our adventure. I apologize for the bad images. I used my little cheapy camera today!

What adventures did you share this week?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning can be fun too.

This is Club Kid.

This is Club Baby.

In the midst of all the fun. The members of Club Baby,who transformed into evil munchkins, were determined to attack and destroy the facilities of Club Kid.
My 9 year old, who is the original architect of Club Kid, was forced to rebuild hid domain at least 5 times. After rebuilding what seemed to be a million times, he gave up. He went and sat across the room and grieved over the loss of his Club. I, Queen Momsi (Well that's what they were calling me) had to comfort the lone architect.
AHHHHHH (The angles sang)! "Logan, do you see how hard it can be to keep up a home?"
(Your not Joking, says Logan) "Do you see how hard it is to have to rebuild it day after day after day?" "How does it make you feel when the little munchkins destroying it, don't care how aggravating it is to you?"
By this time, It was obvious he knew where I was going with this. But being mom, I explained anyway. "Son, that is why I ask for you boys to help me with your laundry, your room, the dishes, and all the other small chores I ask you to help with."
It takes a lot of energy to rebuild(By rebuild, I mean re-clean) your home everyday. That's why we have to work as a team to get it all done.
With the response of "Okay", The Architect went on to create magnificent plans to combine clubs and have an even greater club. And they all lived happy ever after. At least until the next brotherly argument :)
I always love when teachable moments come about while we are playing. It sometimes seems as though God puts them right in front of you. Maybe he will be more understanding when I am asking for is help. Probably not, but a girl can dream can't she?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There is always a greater sacrifice.

3 nights(and one morning) every week, I sit for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours each time watching and/or coaching soccer. Even thought I adore coaching and love to watch my children play their games and score a goal even more, I often will find myself grumbling. Just trying to find any excuses not to go. Mainly because I have a million things to do, but also because I just get tired of spending countless hours on the fields just thinking about the million things I have to do. You know what, I just do it. My kids need it. They love the game and they love their friends and I love that they are....happy. Why is it that the things that can give us the most joy also sometimes give us so much grief?
When I first began to homeschool, my husband's biggest "worry" was that I was just taking on too much(which I will admit, I am good at and I do it often). I mean, what mom doesnt take on too much at some point in their motherhood? Well, Me....I sometimes push the envelope. Okay more than sometimes :) I homeschool, I work a few hours at night, I lead a church life group, I am in multiple moms groups and homeschool support groups, we are in a co-op, I coach soccer, we have to run to karate, piano lessons and any other extra curricular event that pops up. Not to mention the normal keep-up with the house, yard work, and the animals. Phhewww. I am Wiped out just typing it all. And I am pretty sure I forgot a few things. To some of you you are looking at that list and thinking "Lady, I got you beat". For those of you, I say God Bless You!! A friend once said to me, "How many hours are in your day, because there are only 24 in mine." I am still not sure how many hours are actually in my day!
My husband, God bless him, often gets chucked in that list somewhere. He is normally the one to remind me that I need to breath. I need to sleep. I need.to.relax!! And I do, for an hour or so :)
So why is it that I, or we as moms, continue to run ourselves down? Well, to me, my family and their happiness is worth the sacrifice it takes! I am fulfilled and happy knowing that they have every ounce of me that I can give them. Now, I am not saying that I don't have times where I feel insanely overwhelmed. I would be a liar to say that I never have an occasional cry-fest in the shower. However, I am not unhappy. Sometimes I am just tired. I just need a little encouragement. Other than the encouragement from my mother, who has the ability to encourage and scold in the same breath, there is only one other example I can think of to keep me motivated.

Beyond my sacrifices, there has been one made that is far greater than mine will ever be. We have a Father, who gave his only Son, SACRIFICED his only Son to save the lives of us, his children. This sacrifice was made to give us life, hope, happiness, and love-all the things that we want to give to our own children. What more encouragement do we need then that? What I have to give us up is nothing compared to that!

Over the past month, the thought of my legacy, has been predominately on my mind. What will my children remember most about me once I am gone? I pray that I pass on a legacy of faith and service to others most of all. My grandmother's funeral readings have made me add one more to this list. Every child of my grandmother remembers the sacrifices she made to raise her family. She was so strong and independent. She did everything she could to give them everything the needed, even what they didn't have. She passed that memory to her children. So my 3rd legacy to pass on will be sacrifice. For your spouse, for your children, for your family, and most importantly... for God's work.

God has all intentions to bless you in every way possible. Personally, just the fact that I have the home, children, and spouse that I have leave me feeling blessed more than I feel I should be. Sometimes it is not always the sacrifices that you make for your family or friends, but the ones you make to live your life for God, that will be the hardest sacrifices of all.
Running yourself down, to do the work of God, and adding it into the mix of everything you are already doing for your family, will be one sacrifice that will never go unnoticed and will never be regretted!
However, there will always be that one greater sacrifice!

Please use that as your encouragement this week. Can you say that the sacrifices you give for your family are enough to leave a legacy? Give yourself, every ounce of you, to you family and to God. He will work through you and believe me you will accomplish all you set to do, as long as you live through him!

Super Yummy, Quick, and Easy

Broccoli Quiche(with Sausage and Bisquick)
1lb Pork Sausage(cooked)
1 10oz pacakge chopped broccoli (Or your favorite veggie)
2 eggs
1/2 cup bisquick
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup Grated Chedder Cheese
2 cups milk

Layer sausage and broccoli in a pie pan or quiche dish. Mix bisquick, eggs milk and salt. Pour over meat mixture. layer grated cheese on top. Microwave at 70% for 10 minutes or bake 400 for 20-25 minutes. ENJOY!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Do you have an anti-homeschool friend or family member?

Every homeschooling family, at one point, deals with a family member or a friend who approaches them about their feelings with your homeschooling choice. As someone just beginning homeschooling and even for some veterans, it can very difficult to respond. I decided to write this as a helpful manual, if you will, on steps you can take to make it through these conversations. Some of the most common questions or concerns are:

What about socialization? Who will they play with? Will they be around kids the same age?
What kind of structure can they have at home?
When do you get "you" time?
What kind of activities can you offer that matches what a public school can give?
What's the quality of the education?
Won't that hinder your kid's personalities?
How do your kids feel about it?
The reasoning's and explanations for these questions might vary from parent to parent. There is no better answer than your own. Try to use these guidelines below as steps that you can take through the conversation:

1. RESPECT~The first thing that you have to remember is to respect their opinion. Do not get offended because someone doesn't agree with you. Everyone will have their own point of view and it is going to be up to you to explain yours. They might accept it, they might not. Don't be disappointed if your explanation goes ignored.
2. ASK WHY? Ask why they don't believe in homeschooling. Ask them if they have researched homeschooling or if they are passing judgment from gossip or news articles. Unfortunately for us, what they show on on the news are homeschooling extremist who allow there children to do whatever they want and learn if they wish too. Explain that this is NOT how normal homeschooling works. It is very difficult to try to hear the opinion of someone who has never once typed in "homeschooling" in google or stepped foot in a library to read one of the millions of books on it. They are speaking out of ignorance, so this opportunity offers a lot of room for explanation and conversation. In most of these situations the person is simply misinformed. Offer links, books and articles that might help to inform them more. Show them research.
3. REMEMBER YOUR REASONING. You must have had your reasons before you began homeschooling. Remember them. Stand by them. Do not let someones criticism allow you to lose heart. Let it give you a sense of motivation to prove them wrong. Now, this doesn't mean rub it in their face when you child does something amazing. Just know in your heart that they are wrong and you are doing what you have set out to do. Remember also that the education of your children rests on your shoulders, they may disagree, but they will have no choice but to respect your decision. Stay calm and remain positive.
4. AGREE TO DISAGREE- Even after all you efforts, you will have those stubborn ones who just aren't going to agree with you. Then simply leave it at that. Agree to disagree and just don't bring it up again.

If you have any other positive insight, please feel free to add them on a comment.

Have a blessed one!!

Our Spelling Bee File Folder

Studies have shown that many young students learn better and remember more when the subject matter is turned into a song, game, a play, or some other visual or audible stimulant. We try to keep that approach active in our studies.
One subject that we do every week is spelling. Now we normally will have spelling bees the day before the test. We have the boys stand in line and we give them a word and they spell it out loud. They absolutely love it. Especially when one of them get it wrong and loses a round to the other(We play 5 rounds). However, sometimes they just get bored with it. So we made this.....

This is a file folder game we call follow the path of the spelling bee. The rules are:
Youngest goes first. Roll the die to move. If you land on a pencil you have to spell a word. If you get it wrong you have to write it 3X. If you land on an A you spell another players word. If you misspell it, the word will be spelled for you. If you get it correct, move one space. First one to the finish WINS! Here is how the inside looks:

We just let the kids pick playing pieces. Sometimes they choose pennies or nickels. Sometimes they use pieces from other games. For the inside we used alphabet stickers for the A's, yard sale stickers for the circles, and I printed all the pencils off, but you could find sticks for those too. Just be creative. Add lots of color and fun.
We have really enjoyed this one. Sometimes daddy and I get into it as well! You could do something like this for math also. Do math problems instead of the spelling and maybe use a different character.

Have fun!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shapes in the Sky

Today was indeed the most beautiful day we have had since...last fall :) The breeze was blowing, there was a slight chill in the air, the sky was gorgeous. Big fluffy cloud spread throughout the sky, the sun was setting and shooting out through the small spaces between the clouds. It was one of those AHHHH moments. It's one of those moments where you just inhale and exhale and thank God for his Glory. As we were headed home from an errand we began to notice the awesome shapes in the sky. I pointed out a pirate parrot. My husband pointed out a flying eagle(I though it looked like a buzzard but I wasn't going to ruin that image). It was nose to nose with my parrot. The boys started to join in and I am pretty sure we saw nearly every animal in the sea.
Once we got home I decided to take advantage of a teachable moment. So I laid down on the grass and invited the others to join me. I could imagine my neighbors saying, "Look at those wierdos laying all in the front yard, pointing at the clouds". As I started to point out the big fluffy cumulo-nimbus clouds and the thin alto-stratus covering the sun, my 3 year old continued to point out 5 kangeroo's and my 8 and 6 year old were so over it! Well at least we got to name a few clouds. Then we sat, just me and my preschooler. Noticing the look of "what in the world are you taking about", I changed the subject to a simple lesson of "Keegan, do you know who made the clouds? To my surprise he elegantly answered "Uhhh, God. Duh, mommy".

So what started as me taking advantage of a woo-hoo teachable moment turned into a moment to teach me! Your kids can surprise you. They always, ALWAYS know more than you think they do. They also have no problem telling you that your an idiot(in so many words). :)

The God Box

As a mother, especially a homeschooling mom, I have days even weeks in which I am overwhelmed with worry. I worry over my kids, my husband, the school work we got behind on, about everything that needs to get done, or even what dinner we'll be eating every night this week. A few years ago I realized that if you allow for worries to continue to multiply, you will most likely find yourself in a state where you would rather give up.
You know, we have it easy! Thats right I said it. We have it EASY! Could you imagine if we could see into our future and our childrens future? Can you imagine knowing all of the problems and challenges that you would face? For most of us, we would just give up before we even got started! Unless, of course, you are the blessed one that has a life with absolutley no challenges! :)
But here's what so great: There is one person who knows our future and friends it is not you or I. It is the Lord. He is the only one who can take our cares from us! It is so importanat to have faith in Him. He will always give us the things we need as we need them and in his own time.
Take it one day at a time. One prayer at a time. Dont waste the energy, that could be given to your families, on worry.
Here's a project for you to try over the next few weeks. Create a God box.
Take an old show box, a gift box or even a old tissue box and cut a slit in the top of it. Decoarte it with your family using construction paper, stickers, or markers and finish it off with quotes that encourage "casting your cares on God". Then cut up many pieces of paper and sit them next to the box. Okay, its made, now what? Well, encourage your family to use it!! Use this as a tool, as a physical, visual way to see that you are casting your cares to God. Write your worry on the paper and slip it into the box. Everytime that worry pops back up you can remember that you have already given it to God. You could take this a step further by choosing one day a week to take out all the worries and praying for them yourself or as a family.
I have found this to be a great tool with the kids. The worries they offer are so minimal. For instance we had one last week that started: "I might not get ice cream this week". Could you imagine only worrying about getting ice cream this week. Man, what a relief that would be. But you know what, I would'nt want them worrying about anything else! I have no problem praying to God to let my son have some ice cream this week!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SOTW History

I have recently started my 8 and 6 year old on story of the world, history curriculum. I decided for a change by using the CD version over the books(but the books are great resources as well). It is great!! Not only do each of the boys actually sit quietly and listen to one or two lessons, but they really enjoy placing all the colorful picture cards on their time lines and even trying to out smart each other on the memorization cards.
On a mom's side note:
I have very...busy...boys. This an an excellent way to have them settle and focus their minds. I have found myself having them do this assignment before more antsy subjects like math.

This time line is done in a drawing book. Originally, we did it on construction paper and folded it where the pages met. But the pictures kept falling off and the paper continued to rip. With a drawing book(I used an 11X14) everything stays put and the pages are thicker because it is made for drawing. Which will help in the long run with all of the handling. It has 24 pages, so 48 total. So we will use this for volumes 2 and possibly 3.
I got this 1/2 off at my local craft store for $4.You could use a normal 8X11 at walmart for $3 , but you will have to lower the year amounts on each page.

I have had some tremendous help from Hannah's homeschool help( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Hannah_hs_helps/) She is simply amazing about creating detailed and organized activities to relate to the story of the world series(and other subjects as well). I also got the Art book idea from another homeschooling blogger(ournestof3). I took this mom's suggestion of not using the 9s in the timeline. Like 3200-1999. It was just more simple for the kids to say 3200-2000, 2000-1500, etc, Below are the years and how I placed them on our time line:
2. 3000-2000
3. 2000-1500
4. 1500-1000
5. 1000-750
6. 750-5000
7. 500-250
8. 250-0
10-24 from here on out, each page is 100 years.

Our Nest of 3 website: She has some templates for the cover and time line strips.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So easy to fall behind..

I have to tell you...it can be easy to let your school days slip by. The past 2 weeks my family and I have been dealing with my grandmother falling and ending up in the hospital, then finding out she has stage 4 lung cancer, to watching her wrestle with pain and subsequently death. It has been an emotionally draining time. I would say out of 10 school days, maybe 2 days were completed, besides our daily math and reading. Its times such as these that I begin to question my homeschooling ability! However, it is also times like these that I find reassurance. Okay... wait a minute, what a contradiction, right? I go through this often. I start to think that a "real" teacher could do a better job, I dont offer them enough school time or that I am just not teaching them enough. Then I remember that one of ther joy's of homeschool is FLEXIBILITY. I know parents that aren't beginning thier school year until after labor day for crying out loud. Why am I stressing? Yea, I would say under the circumstances, I had good reason to fall behind. But to me I felt as though I was offering excuses.
I think as parents we always feel that we arent doing something right. We are failing somewhere. We are not doing enough. The truth is...those feelings mean you are doing your job! It is important to not always stress over what you feel you are not doing, but focus on everything that you ARE doing.
Here's my goal for myself and you this week: Have more faith in yourself. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"(Hebrews 11:1). This can refer to our faith in Christ as well as faith in ourselves. You might not always see the positvie side of your homeschooling choice or of you efforts to accomplish it, but believe me, having the extra faith in your self will prove successful!