Friday, September 28, 2012

Treasure Hunt!

Storytime is one of Old Crow's favorite parts of the day.  He gets to paint pictures in his mind as we read aloud to him.  We usually read a portion of our current chapter book in the mornings along with our other studies, but some days he asks to save it until bedtime.

Biography was our genre at the beginning of the school year.  To introduce this genre and book called William Henry Harrison, I had him fill a paper bag full of things that would tell about him.  Then he presented his items to us and told the "story of his life."  

Now that we completed the biography, we are turning to the genre of adventure.  The Heart of Dakota teacher's guide suggested a treasure hunt to help introduce kids to this new genre.  I knew Old Crow would love this!!  So I set out to create a treasure hunt and the treasure would be a snack and our new chapter book, The Sword in the Tree.  :)

This brought back such fun memories.  As a child, my mom would make rhyming clues for my friends and me to follow all through the house.  We would beg for her to come up with these on the spot...and she was so good at it!  Now it was my turn, and I gave it a shot.

I placed Clue #1 in his storytime workbox.  He was so excited he ran outside.  He read it a few times and the more he focused on the word "score" he realized he should head to the soccer goal.  

On the soccer goal he found Clue #2.

As he read it he kept saying "a rock" instead of "rock".  So he wanted to look for a rock...with a little guidance he headed for the front porch rocking chairs.

On the rocking chair he found Clue #3.

He quickly realized he should look in the fishing boat...and there he found a treasure map.

Old Crow followed the map to where X marked the spot.  And he found his treasure!!!

We took our treasure inside...shared our snack with Memphis Belle and began reading The Sword in the Tree.  I think this adventure genre will be right up Old Crow's alley.  :)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday's Top 10: Great Reads for Mom

Books are such a delight for me.  I love the feel of a book in my hands.  I love the smell of opened pages.  I love how characters come to life and their emotions my own...even making me physically sick sometimes.  Has that ever happened to you?  That sick feeling you get while reading a compelling novel?  

I enjoy going to the library and being surrounded by books.  I will read just about anything...fiction, self-help books, devotions, magazines.  You name it, and I'll pick it up...anything from great works of literature to drug store novellas.  I've read so many books over the years that I couldn't possibly think of my top 10 favorite (because for various reasons I usually enjoy the majority of what I read).    

When I decided to think of a book list for my Tuesday's Top 10, for whatever reason, these are the 10 books that came to mind.  They are not necessarily my favorite (though some are) and they aren't necessarily my top recommendations (though some are), but they have definitely been on mind.  Some of them years after I've read them.

Top 10 Books
(and these are in order of how they came to mind)

1.  Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  A romance novel with biblical themes.  This is a book I had to buy a copy to keep for myself.  I have returned to this book again and again.  It leaves such an impact on the the way we unconditionally love others.  Beautifully and powerfully written.

2.  Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell.  This book has strengthened and encouraged my role as a mother and a wife.  It led me to seek the Lord and a meek and quiet spirit instead one where daily activities can lead to frustration and discouragement.  A wonderful read for any mother...stay-at-home mom, working mom, homeschooling mom, and grandmother.      

3.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Such a sweet, poignant look into 1960's culture.  Relationships nor love know no bounds.     

4.  Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  This devotional made me take a hard look at the things I crave first before God.  While the book focuses on food, we found in Bible study that food isn't the issue for everyone...for some it is obsessive cleaning, shopping, etc. Craving isn't a bad thing.  We were made to crave God alone.

5.  The Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson.  A Biblical self-help book on parenting.  It helped me appreciate and adore my strong-willed child in a way I hadn't before.  I was brought to tears to see how this quality should and can be treasured.  It gives practical help in "shaping the will while protecting the spirit."

6.  Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You're With, and Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin.  So basically anything by Emily Giffin ;)  I enjoyed all of these romantic dramas and they are spiced with humor.  Perfect beach reads!

7.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  A psychological thriller.  It was definitely a page-turner and left me thinking about it days after I finished reading it, but I'm not sure I would recommend it.  The ending left me reeling...thinking "What????!!!!???"  Don't want to spoil it though.

8.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  I read this book years ago, and it still resonates with me today.  I'll catch myself remembering this book, its themes, and characters.  A compelling and powerful look at friendship and how it shapes our lives.

9.  Gilgamesh by Joan London.  A fascinating look at a woman's world during WWII.  Initially set in Australia, it transports you through London, Soviet Armenia, and other exotic places when the world is on the verge of erupting in war.

10.  A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve.  Vivid imagery of Kenyan culture and landscape.  A look into how seemingly innocent actions can affect your marriage.     

Happy Reading,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Everyone loves butterflies.  The delicate beauty, colorful charm, and wonder of their "birth" all add up to one fascinating creature.  This year we wanted to take a look at the butterfly life cycle.  While a lot can be learned from activities and books, I decided to give the kids a little something extra.  We watched the life cycle take place in our home!

I bought The Butterfly Pavilion and then ordered the caterpillars.  

We observed the caterpillars and began a daily chart to record our observations.  The chart helped us see the growth and know the length of each stage.

Soon we began to see the caterpillars crawl to the lid and hang upside down...they were preparing for their chrysalis.  In a few days, they had all formed a chrysalis.

We removed them from the cup and attached them to the side of the butterfly pavilion.  And now the waiting began.  For many days we watched and saw no changes.  

Then one day as Old Crow and I began school I looked up and saw that a butterfly had emerged!!  It was so exciting to see this drastic change in a living creature.

So we quickly mixed together sugar and water for their food.  (Once all the butterflies had emerged we would release them.)  We sprinkled this sugar water on flowers that we placed in the bottom of the pavilion.

We all loved to check on the butterflies regularly.  And each day more butterflies appeared.

Then release day came.  It was such a happy time watching them fly up and away.  Everyone cheered and clapped!  It was also a little sad...having our work come to an end and seeing the butterflies we watched change and grow leave their "nest."  I expect this is similar to what I'll feel in about 12 years. :(

Along with observing the stages of the butterfly, we also did extra activities each day.  Our main project-long activity was completing this free booklet called From Caterpillar to Butterfly.  It is excellent!!

from caterpillar to butterfly booklet

Here is Old Crow completing one of the pages.  He compared the butterfly's body parts to his body parts.  Then he drew a picture of our butterfly.  We would try to complete one page each day.

Some days we read From Caterpillar to Butterfly.  This book goes along perfectly with our project.

I also wrapped Old Crow in toilet paper to symbolize the chrysalis.  We talked about how during this stage there was no visible movement, but a lot of changes were taking place.

And last, but definitely not least, we made an edible life cycle. :)

We gathered mini marshmallows (eggs), gummy worms (caterpillars), Pirouline rolled wafers (chrysalises), and Sociables crackers (butterflies).  On a paper plate we created the life cycle with our snacks.  Crazy Horse and Old Crow worked together to place the snack in the correct spot.  They made an extra one for Memphis Belle to have after nap time.  This was a huge hit!!!

Our time studying butterflies was one of deep fascination and learning.  It was such a joy to experience this with everyone in the family...from Memphis Belle up to Daddy.      


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday's Top 10: Favorite Fall Activities

Bright, clear skies.  Breezy days.  Rustling leaves.  Cooler temperatures.  
A brief glimpse of fall recently came through the south.  Everyone stayed outdoors to soak up as much of this wonderful weather as we could.  The first hint of fall makes us all itch to dig out our sweaters, carve some pumpkins, and drink hot chocolate. We are eager to celebrate the change of seasons and all that comes during autumn.  Here are some of our family's favorite fall-time fun. 

Top 10 Favorite Fall Activities

1.  Going to Friday night high school football games and college football on Saturdays.  "I can feel it coming in the air tonight"...this pretty much sums up the environment surrounding ball games.  There is almost a tangible quality to the atmosphere.  The tradition, sense of community, and excitement is so strong you can almost feel it.  The smell of grilled hamburgers, the sound of roaring crowds, and the sight of an entire community coming together to support their own mixes together for one grand experience...for all ages. :)

2.  Visiting a pumpkin patch and then carving the pumpkin together.

3.  Drinking hot chocolate on a cool night.  There is just something about a cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows that makes me smile.  Invite some friends over and have a hot chocolate bar with lots of toppings.  Add a fire and it's near perfection!

4.  Eating soup and chili from a big pot that has been on the stove all day.  Growing up I loved coming inside the house and seeing a warm pot of chili on a cold night.  The entire family would come over for chili and chili dogs.  This is a sweet memory that I love reliving...a lot.  We eat a lot of chili and soup in the fall and winter. :)

5.  Raking leaves into a huge pile and then jumping in!  While I don't think I did this very often as a child, my boys LOVE it.  The last house we lived in had tons of fallen leaves.  They would work so hard to rake them together and then in they would jump.

6.  Making smores by a fire.  Once the weather is cold enough for an indoor fire, we love pulling out the coat hangers and all making this yummy treat.  When the kids go camping with their grandparents, this is a favorite tradition no matter the season.

7.  Going to fall festivals.  Church festivals.  School festivals.  Community festivals.  They have such charm  and warmth that they are hard to avoid.  Yes, the kids may get a little over-excited...but it's all in the name of fun.

8.  Watching the corn and cotton grow.  Since we live in and near rural farming communities it is the norm to see fields of crops growing beside houses and along roads.  Cotton and corn are symbolic of both our southern heritage and the autumn season.  Once harvest time arrives, the boys love to jump on the harvesters and take a ride.  :) 

9.  Taking a hayride.  What is it about a hayride??  I think everyone from toddlers to grandparents love a good hayride.  On a cool night with a warm blanket...I'm ready.

10.  Going for walks, collecting leaves and branches, and then making decorations.  As the season changes, it becomes visible in the rich leaf color, bare branches, and falling leaves.  It is the perfect time to get outdoors and go for a walk and bike ride.  You can collect leaves and branches for seasonal decorations...wreathes, flower arrangements, centerpieces, etc.

After looking over my list, I see that these are all about memories...either remembering them, reliving them, or making them!  I hope your fall season is full of warmth that can only come
from the love of family and friends.

Happy Fall Y'all (almost),

P.S.  Please share some of your favorite fall activities below.
Also, I'd love suggestions for future top 10s. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday's Top 10: Myths about Homeschoolers

Growing up in a small, southern town I didn't run into many homeschooling families.  The one family that I did know caused me to wonder, "Why in the world would they want to do that?????"  There was little understanding and a lot of ignorance on my part about their choice to homeschool.  Homeschooling was discussed very little and people were not very open about their reasons to school at home.

Now that we are educating our children in the home setting, I want others to understand why.  I want them to see that we are a normal, loving family.  I want the general public to find value in our choice even if it isn't their own current path.  I want others to be accepting and encouraging.  I want to turn the critics into advocates (which is exactly what happened to me about 1 year ago...although to be perfectly honest it wasn't a blog post that accomplished that.  It was the Holy Spirit working in me).

In an attempt to correct the untruths and preconceived notions circling around, I'd like to dispel some myths.

This Tuesday's Top 10 focuses on those myths...the incorrect thoughts about the families that choose the homeschool path.  Some of the myths listed below were some of my own incorrect ideas and some have recently been mentioned to me by people unfamiliar with homeschooling.  I hope this post can educate others and reassure those who have steered away from homeschooling because of a myth.


Top 10 Myths About Our Homeschooling Family
(and these are in no particular order)
**Disclaimer:  The use of "we" refers to my immediate family.  I do not speak for the homeschooling community as a whole...only my family and what we have found to be true.  

1.  Homeschooled children are unsocialized.  They are lonely and isolated.  This is a hot button issue for many of us and to be honest when I first felt the calling to homeschool this was my main concern.  I'm really not even sure how to address this one because "socialization" means something different to all of us.  All I can say is that my children are not lonely or isolated.  They have a large extended family and church we interact with regularly.  They attend sports programs and extra-curricular activities.  They have play dates with friends.  They can have a conversation not only with someone their own age but children, adults, and senior citizens.  They are well-adjusted children.  Are they socialized to the norms of our culture?  Definitely not...and for us that is a good thing. Click here to read more about research findings.

2.  Homeschooling families hate the government and want to live "off the radar."  We are active, law-abiding citizens.  We love our country and its ideals.  We aren't keeping our children locked away in an attempt to hide them from an invasive government.  

3.  We feel that public schools are wrong.  We do not think public schools are wrong; we just feel they are not right for us at this time.  God has called us onto a different path.  I was once a public school teacher. Many of my family members are retired or currently teaching in public schools.  Our children have friends that attend public school, and we financially support the schools with our taxes and fundraisers.

4.  We, as parents, want to be controlling and overbearing.  We may be viewed as over-protective, but we do not see this as a negative.  We desire to guide, protect, lead, and shelter our children. recently posted on this very topic...a great read!

5.  Homeschooling families sit at home all day.  There are some days I wish we could just sit at home. :)  We have regularly scheduled weekly activities away from the house, and we frequently take road trips both near and far.  Even when we are at home, it is not like we are crammed into a little dark dungeon together.  We are often playing in the yard, creating something from nothing, reading together on the couch, or watching favorite movies.    

6.  Homeschooled children will not get into college.  Colleges are actively recruiting homeschooled graduates.  Colleges realize the potential and unique characteristics they can offer.  Also, research shows that a much higher rate of homeschooled graduates attend college as compared to public school graduates.  And once in college they usually perform higher.  

7.  Homeschooled kids will not be allowed to play sports.  This varies depending on where you live and the relationship between the local homeschool community and public school system.  Our town is currently working on making it possible for homeschoolers to participate in sports, band, and other programs offered through the school system.  However, the public school, is not the only option for sports.  City recreation departments, homeschool co-ops, and the YMCA often offer sport programs.  If this is an interest for our kids, we can and will definitely find an outlet.

8.  The homeschooling parents are not accountable to anyone.  While government regulations can be lax in certain states, I am nonetheless held accountable.  I am accountable to my children to give them my very best.  I am accountable to God...remaining in His will, training the children He blessed me with, and teaching them His commandments.  And yes, we do follow state mandated laws concerning the homeschooling program.  We are held accountable.

9.  Homeschooling is rare and an oddity.  This may have been true many years ago, but homeschooling is growing in popularity and the numbers are rising.  The homeschooling population has increased from 13,000 in the 1970s to over 1.5 million.  It is no longer rare.  If I mention homeschooling to someone today, they will either know someone who was/is homeschooled or either they were homeschooled themselves.  

10.  Homeschooling families are crazy and weird.  Hmmm, well I don't think we are weird.  We are on a road not traveled by all, but I don't think this makes us crazy.  In my conversations with other parents, I have often heard, "I wish we could homeschool."  I believe it is a desire for many but obligations and circumstances keep them from taking the leap.  All it takes is a mustard seed.  Luke 17:6  :)

11.  Homeschooling parents must be trained and qualified teachers.  I felt the need to add an extra one because this one I hear a lot...people doubting their own abilities to teach their children.  They feel inadequate and think special training must be needed.  A good friend once told me, "God doesn't call the equiped.  He equips the called."  I have found this to be true over and over.  When God leads me into something new, He will most definitely give me all things to make it work.  So fear not!

In His love,

We finally have some cooler temperatures in the deep south!  So next week I'll share some of our favorite fall activities. :)    


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday's Top 10: How the Husband Can Help with Homeschooling

This weeks Top 10 takes a look at how the husband can be a part of homeschooling.  Sometimes we, the teaching moms, feel the sole weight of homeschooling and it can be a heavy burden.  I wanted to examine the  ways my husband contributes and recognize those efforts.  By doing so, it allows me to see that I'm not in this alone, and it also gives me specific ways to thank my husband.  Hopefully this will point out the many ways your husband also supports your family.

Top 10 Ways the Husband Can Help with Homeschooling
(these are in no particular order)

1.  He leads devotionals with the kids.  This is an important time of spiritual leadership and bonding between the kids and their Daddy.

by Ima-princess

2.  He reads with them at night.  Most nights this is a Bible story, but they also like to pull out books on dinosaurs, tractors, and trucks.

by Teresa

3.  He is the schoolroom handyman.  Without him, I would have nothing on my walls. :)

by Melissa L.

4.  He provides hands-on learning and real-life experiences.  Hunting, fishing, and sports practice all allow for skills and knowledge to be passed down.

Homeschool Ryan gosling :)

5.  He can be the tutor/sole teacher on difficult subjects like math.  I will definitely need this when we hit high school math (or even long division for that matter).  Math is not my strong suit.  ;)

by Ren

6.  He is the chief encourager and cheerleader for me.  On days when the devil creeps in and has me questioning myself with "Why are we doing this again?", he is there to encourage and motivate.

funny by Leslie T.  from Homeschool Ryan Gosling

7.  He is the curriculum co-coordinator.  He helps me with choosing curriculum.  We discuss possible choices, and he helps me in narrowing them down.  We also pray together about what God wants for our family.

» Homeschool Ryan Gosling Meme---too funny! It's even funnier that he was ACTUALLY homeschooled. ;)

8.  He is the bread winner.  Without his strong work ethic and commitment to providing for our family, I would not be able to stay at home.

by Anne H.

9.  He is the guidance counselor.  The kids and I go to him and seek help, comfort, and guidance.

Ryan Gossling speaks "homeschool."

10.  He is the PE coach. :)    

homeschool ryan gosling hunger games

Create your own list (either on paper or mentally) and you'll realize the many ways
 he provides for you and his family.  At a marriage conference, the speaker told us how husbands just want to know they are appreciated.  So tell him how much you appreciate him and a kiss would be nice too. ;)

by Amanda

**The Ryan Gosling funnies were too good to pass up!!!

Coming next week...the myths of homeschooling.  Should be interesting!  ;)