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

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!