Monday, August 31, 2015

You Might Be A Homeschooling Family If...

 Here are a few ways to tell if you're a homeschooling family (just in case you aren't sure if you are or not!):

  1. When people ask your kids what grade they're in they turn to you in panic asking "What grade am I in?"
  2. The school uniform often consists of Pj's and slippers.
  3. You hear "no school today?" every time you go to the store with the kids during school hours.
  4. You get asked more questions about socialization than you can count on one hand each week.
  5. Your family vacations are more like field trips.
  6. You and your kids can turn ANYTHING into a learning lesson.  "Mom why can't I watch Pokemon as part of school? It teaches me all about science like how water and earth beat fire."
  7. None of you like to go on field trips when schools are on break because all the places are crowded and you're just not used to that.  
  8. Your kids have chores and can cook, do laundry and clean the house at very young ages; which you totally count as home economics. 
  9. You enjoy hanging out at the park at noon on a weekday. 
  10. You all count trips to the grocery store, dentist, and amusement park as field trips. 
  11. When people ask the kids where they go to school they say they don't go to school and so you quickly interject and explain all the ways that homeschooling is a valid life choice. 
  12. You local library has an entire shelf and a box set aside for you when you walk in... and then later that afternoon there is another message from the library saying more books that you ordered came in. 
  13. Your children genuinely enjoy learning.  
How can people tell you're a homeschooling family?

Linking Up With:
Homemaking LInkup

Coffee and Conversation button

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cute Little Dragon!

I decided to make my own Toothless Card.

My son requested a How To Train Your Dragon party for his birthday this year.  He got a new blanket with Hiccup and Toothless the other day and just loves his blanket so much.  It doesn't hurt that we're listening to the How to Train Your Dragon books on CD and we've seen both the movies.

Toothless is an adorable little dragon and ended up being pretty easy to make. 

Within a day or so I had tons of great party ideas after searching Pinterest for party ideas.  But I had no good invitation ideas.

Being a card-maker I was NOT going to buy any but I really wanted something that had to do with dragons or eggs or vikings.  So I kept looking and looking.

I found a few cute dinosaur and monster cards that I thought might work.  After playing around for five minutes or so I came up with the most adorable Toothless invitation.  Even if I did use some unusual tools to do it.

Isn't he just darling?!   I love when I surprise myself like that!  Here are the instructions for how I made my dragon card:

1. Cut paper to 4 1/4 x 11 and fold in half.

2.  Form the rounded nose of the dragon at the bottom of your card.  I ended up looking around for something to trace and believe it or not the perfect shape was my Kitchen Aid Mixer blade!  I traced the shape using an embossing stylus pen and then cut along the line with my scissors.

3.  Using my large oval punch from Stampin' Up! I cut two yellow eyes and affixed them to the card front fairly close together and at a slight angle.  I then punched two black circles using the 3/4" circle punch and used double sided adhesive to affix them to the center of the yellow ovals.

4.  At this point I had what looked like a snake and I was stuck for ideas.  So I searched for pictures of Toothless and found a few simple drawings and crafts that showed him with his ears and scales.  Inspired I drew what looked like a W with an extra point at the top of the card to form the dragon's ears and scales.  I then cut them out and asked the kids who I was making.  They all knew right away that it was toothless.

5.  Finally using my stylus I traced a few bumps and circles between the eyes going up toward the scales/ears for his scales on his face.  They don't show up well in the pictures or really even all that well in person but I just felt like I couldn't leave his face plain.

Isn't he cute?

Linking Up With:

Friday, August 28, 2015

First Week Back to School

We started back to school this week.

Sort of....

I pulled out the boys new math books and we completed a few pages but by weeks end we really only completed two days of school.  We were just so busy this week and looking forward I don't see us doing much schoolwork next week either.  It's OK though since the boys are enthusiastically learning on their own still.

Reading-- Evan read My Dog, Buddy and we practiced his sight word stacking cups. He also read Meerkats  and asked me to pick out some chapter book for him.  Alec read Meerkats (A Day in the Life: Desert Animals), finished Henry Huggins and Tombquest.  He picked out another new book series called Dragon Keeper and is already halfway through the first book of that series too. He's been reading at the beach, reading wedged into a tree at the lake, reading in the car; just reading up a storm.  Ian: finished Mockingjay and we started reading Divergent together.  He received a whole box of books from his great grandfather all about trucks and equipment and spent some time one afternoon looking through them reading up on whatever caught his interest.  We listened to a new book on CD called When Life Gives You O.J. and just loved this adorable story about a girl using an OJ jug as a pretend "starter" dog.   I read a few more chapters in the Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom when we had time-- it's such a great book and we just love it!  It's hilarious!

Science-- Watched the movie meerkats to go along with our books on meerkats and as a follow up to our zoo visit a few weeks ago.  We also went to a nature class about clams and clamming and got to try our hand at clamming (you can read about our day here).  We learned all about mollusks.  We watched the hummingbirds feeding from out flowers and the birds in our feeder.  We switched bird food to try and attract even more finches.

Math-- The boys worked on a few more review sheets and started working in all of their workbooks.  They've completed a couple of pages and are working hard learning new concepts and practicing old skills.  The boys also spent a bit more time building with the Qba maze sets and Qubits pieces as well as making cars and buildings with our magna tiles.

Geography-- Ian, Alec and I played a few games of the Scrambled States of America; it was no surprise when Alec won them both.  I found Ian playing with our United States puzzle and learning the names of the great lakes and a few more capitals.  I caught Ian playing Scrambled States of America on his Kindle one day too while we were driving in the car.  He then showed me that he's earned 25 of the states already by answering so many questions correctly.

Social Skills-- We had THREE parties this past week!  The boys all wanted to catch up with all of their school friends before our local schools started back to school.  They had a great time playing with their friends.  We also had a family party thrown into the mix and the kids all played with their cousins building sand castles together and playing in the water.  We had two different homeschool group activities this week as well and met a few new families.  It was a busy week!

Physical Education/Nutrition -- The boys spent three days in a row in the water swimming, tubing, jumping off of docks and bridges.  Evan has been trying to master diving and Alec has been attempting to flip off the dock.  They all wrestle and play WWE games using our large boat tubes climbing in and out of the water, flipping each other over and having such a great time.  Ian and I have started exercising together a few mornings a week and we've had many, many talks about staying active and proper nutrition.  Evan decided THIS was the week to figure out how to ride his bike.  He practiced a few times with his training wheels and then made me take them off.  He rode around and around; never quitting until he mastered it.  Within three days he was able to ride unassisted and looked like a total pro!

Life Skills-- The boys all spent an evening working and helping their dad.  They shoveled and raked silt working up a sweat for a little spending money.  

Weekly Wrap-Up

Also linking up with Hip Homeschooling this week! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let's go Clamming!

  We were so excited for our clamming class this morning.  All our local schools were starting back up today and with everyone posting first day of school photos my kids were excited to be heading out to the beach.  But first we had to get ready and do a little "back to school" work.

   The boys each completed a page in their math workbooks, an addition/ subtraction review sheet and then read for a bit.  With schoolwork out of the way we packed our bags and got ready to go.

    We had a few minutes to spare before we left and Evan wanted some more practice riding his bike so we headed out to the driveway.  He asked Alec to come out and watch him ride; proud to show off his new skill and share this excitement with his brother.  Alec encouraged him, cheered him on and even rode for a bit with him.  Evan did amazing and made it all the way around our driveway.

    We finally piled in the car and started a new book on CD for the long drive.  We had picked up When Life Gives You OJ and we weren't sure what to expect with a title like that.  It's a really cute story about a girl whose grandfather gives her an orange juice jug.  He's trying to help her convince her parents to get her a dog and hatches a plan for her to use the jug as a practice dog to show her parents she's ready for the responsibility of a dog.  She has to feed the jug twice a day, walk it three times a day, and clean up after it on the walks.  Her family is funny and quirky and it's a fun, light-hearted story.

   On the way Evan lost his tooth!  He was so excited and couldn't wait to share that fact with everyone!

    We arrived at the nature center just in time for class to start and we sat through a short slide show presentation on invertebrates, mollusks, and the life cycle of a clam.  We learned the difference between zooplankton and phytoplankton and then headed out to a local  inlet for some hands on clamming fun.

    An hour into the class and we just weren't loving it.  We had a long hot, buggy walk out to the clamming area.  Even with bug spray on we were getting bitten.  We had to walk out through a lot of weeds and much to reach the clamming area and we found only one "keeper"-- for the class.  The kids did get to see a lot of spider crabs, hermit crabs and a scallop though.  The scallop was really neat!  It kept opening and snapping the shell shut as a warning.  The kids did learn the technique behind clamming and got to try a few different kind of rakes, they learned how to use clam guides to measure which clams were OK to keep and which had to be tossed back.

All kinds of shells were found 

see the hermit crab?

Found one! Now we get to measure it. 

Inspecting the snapping scallop

    We decided to try the other ocean side of the inlet and walked further out the road to the end of the peninsula and then down around through the water.  It was again hot, more buggy, smelly and mucky.  After giving it all a real try (where we found two more "keeper" clams) the boys decided they just did not enjoy clamming at all.  We decided to head back to the car and call it a day.  By the time we arrived back at the car we looked like we all had a case of chicken pocks with little bite marks everywhere!

     We headed to a local lake, jumped in, washed off the fish smell and cooled off our bug bites before settling in for a picnic lunch and a fun day of swimming and visiting with my sister and nephews.  Alec wanted to read his book and we had a nice relaxing day.  It was educational but we definitely learned that we are not clammers.  At least we tried something new and gave it a good effort.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Keeping History Fun

     I was asked this past week how I teach subjects that I never really liked when I was a student. Funny thing was the person mentioned history, which was probably the only subject I truly dreaded when I was in school.  I was fearful to teach history to my kids and hear them grumbling, moaning, and dreading it too.  History can be interesting and I so badly wanted my kids to be excited about learning everything.  I enjoy history now that I'm an adult and I'm not reading textbooks about it.  I find the stories interesting and compelling.  Over the years I think I've found a few ways to make teaching history fun.

I search and search and search for wonderful engaging picture books or chapter books about the topic we're studying.  I make sure we have a variety of historical fiction and non- fiction stories.

 Notice I didn't say books.  I said STORIES.  

My kids have loved learning about the story behind hiSTORY.  I don't make them memorize dates and names; we focus on the sequence of events and learn how all these people and their lives were interwoven.  It's made it much more interesting for us all.

Some of our favorite books we've read so far:

  • Irena's Jar of Secrets; all about one women who helped thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.  

  • We love the whole Magic Tree House series for learning history; one of our favorites was Civil War on Sunday.  Though really we loved them all.  They're such a wonderful way to get the kids excited about a period of time in history or a historical figure.  So many of her books have fact tracker books filled with facts about the time period too.  They're just wonderful and the kids relate easily to them.  


    We look for wonderful movies to watch.  Again I try to make sure we have a mix of historical fiction and non- fiction movies to watch.  I also try to find a mix between cartoon and live action films to satisfy the range of ages I have to teach.  Not all movies appeal to all of the boys but they watch enough of them about each given topic that they "get" that period of time.

   We've acted out parts of history and had a scary morning  pretending we were slaves on the underground railroad hiding from our slave owners and the white men (you can read about that here).

    I love when we can find some sort of video game to play to go along with our unit too.  Like the time we played The Oregon Trail while learning about the westward expansion or the time we played Hold the Fort learning about the war of 1812.

    We typically plan a few arts and crafts projects to go with our unit making everything from medieval weapons to pyramids to viking ships.  It's fun when there's something hands on that they can remember making to go along with various points in history.  Here are some we've really enjoyed:

  • Making candle holders out of tin for colonial study
  • Building castles out of play-doh for medieval study 
  • Mummifying apples for our Ancient Egypt study 
  • Paper Viking Ships
  • Drawing and painting the Mayflower 

    We go on field trips!  Usually a jumping off point for any history topic starts off with a field trip.  Occasionally we end our history unit with a field trip.  If there isn't someplace locally that pertains to our field trip we might go on a virtual field trip using the internet to help us along.  Here is a list of 20 history field trips we've enjoyed so far.  

    We bake foods from some of the time periods we've studied and talk about the types of foods and materials they had around.  There's nothing quite like eating pumpkin pie filling without sugar or sweeteners that the Pilgrims would not have had access to at the first Thanksgiving.

How do you keep history fun and interesting for your kids?

Linking up with Hip Homeschooling and Chronically Content again this week.  Feel free to click on the links and read up on lots of other homeschooling blogs.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Unschooling Summer Week #12

  We  had a pretty quiet around here.  For once, we spent most of our week at home.  We had some friends over, ran some errands, and tried to relax.  Yet, somehow, we still managed to keep busy and learn a lot.

Art/Music-- The older two boys spent one morning making a birthday card for one of their grandmothers.  They used markers, paper cutters, rubber stamps, stickers, a paper crimper and adhesive runners.  Their cards came out beautifully and reflective of their own distinct personalities.  They all colored in their coloring books several times again this week too.  We spent several hours travelling in the car listening to various music from all of their MP3 players.  We learned about African drumming at the zoo and were reminded of bass, rhythm, beat, and the importance of listening to one another.

Reading-- We have no book on CD this week while we wait for some requested ones to come in but we're enjoying reading the Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom when we get the chance.  The boys have also been reading on their own.  Ian read another few chapters in Mockingjay and Alec started reading Henry Higgins as well as continuing with Warriors and Tombquest.  We checked out lots of books from the library on servals, meerkats and fennec foxes.  Alec could not wait to dive into these books either!  Evan and I read a few more books together this week.  So far we've read Should I Share My Ice Cream? and Listen to My Trumpet.

Writing- - The boys spent an afternoon writing thank you letters to a family friend.  We reviewed spelling, punctuation and proper formatting.

Math--  We worked on a few more review sheets this week and Evan has moved onto this 3's facts. The older boys now will sit and time themselves using my phone app and leave the work for me to correct with their times written across the top.  I love that they're getting more and more independent with their schoolwork.  Alec spent one morning working with our Qba maze set making a spiral marble maze.  He had to rebuild and fix it a few times but he finally got it to work just the way he wanted it.  I love when they combine play, problem solving, and creativity! Evan spent that same morning making various weapons out of our Qubits.  He made a bow, a scythe, and a gun.

Geography/Sociology--  This week we got to learn all about African drumming and music.  Alec and Ian got to participate in a drum circle at our local zoo when we visited over the weekend.  We even got to learn some lyrics and African words too.  We read the book Letters from Felix and listened to the bunny's travels around the world.  Alec read all of Felix's letters and showed us his post cards while I read the story line.  It was such a great book!

Science/Technology-- With another trip to the zoo this week we learned a lot about animals and food chains.  Ian spent an afternoon playing with Ivory soap that he had watched "blow up" in the microwave.  This is a favorite science experiment that the boys like to do over and over and over again.  There's something about watching a simple bar of soap grow and grow that's just mesmerizing.  The boys have spent lots of time playing video games again this week.  Alec and Evan have been looking up tips and tricks for Terraria trying to learn all the ins and outs of the game while Ian has re-discovered Minecraft.  He built a two- story library complete with a courtyard for reading in the middle and lots of books.  The boys got me to play some Wii Sports Resort with them and they had fun beating the pants off me.

Socialization:  We had some friends over to play in the lake with us this week.  It's been a long time since we've seen them but Evan was begging me to invite them over and we were lucky enough that they were free.  We had a wonderful time catching up with one another and promised not to wait another year before getting together.

Physical Education:  The boys went tubing and swimming a lot this week.  It's been so hot here this week and with their father back home they've been going tubing almost every night as well as climbing up and jumping off some of the bridges that span the lake.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why MY kids LOVE Homeschooling

People often ask my kids if they like homeschooling.  They'll ask the boys if they miss public school.  They'll ask if the boys miss their friends... they act like I'm holding my kids hostage or something.

 Luckily my kids have no problems telling anyone who asks that they LOVE homeschooling.

They also aren't shy to list why they enjoy homeschooling and why they did not like school.

I asked them to help me out today and here are their reasons why they love homeschooling (I tried to keep all answers in their own words as much as possible):

  1. You don't have to do as many worksheets or school subjects in one day
  2. Most of the lessons are fun and hands- on instead of sitting and listening to a boring book about history we can go visit someplace about history 
  3. You don't have to wake up so early and you get to sleep in
  4. If you have homeschooling friends you can see them even during the school year to just play and hang out and have fun together 
  5. You can visit the zoos and stuff during the school year and they're a lot less crowded
  6. We can swim all the time instead of waiting until the end of the day and only swimming for two hours
  7. We get to pick what we want to learn about
  8. We don't get sick as often
  9. No one really gets in trouble
  10. There are no bad influences or anything
  11. You have more time for art, reading, swimming and playing since school is over pretty quickly
  12. When you don't have to go anywhere you can wear your pajamas all day; like pajama day at school but you can do it a lot more often
  13. We don't have homework
  14. Nobody teases me, picks on me, or bullies me
  15. The food is better!  
  16. Schoolwork can be done on the couch so we can relax and be comfortable while learning 
  17. School only lasts half a day and then we can do what we want
  18. We get longer periods of time to play outside
  19. We get to go on more field trips & watch a lot of movies for learning
  20. Because I can see my mom all day long
Linking Up With; Hip Homeschooling,

Link up your family friendly posts to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Socializing Those Homeschoolers

  It's funny that even though homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds, even though there are literally hundreds of homeschool blogs and they all talk about all the activities their kids are involved in we all still get the dreaded socialization question: "Aren't you worried about their socialization?" 


  My kids are way more social now than when they were in school.  At school they often got in trouble for socializing or else their friends ended up in a different classroom and they didn't have anyone that they really "clicked" with in their classroom for that particular year.  They had a limited number of children to pick from for the most part and heaven forbid if they had different interests from the "norm."  Don't get me wrong they made friends but there were only a few kids they saw outside the school day as well.

   How do they make new friends now that we homeschool? I think that's what most people actually mean when they ask me about my kids socialization.  But really socialization is so much more than just making friends.  While friends are important socialization is the ability to relate, converse, and get along with ALL other people; not just those that were born in the same year.  My kids enjoy talking to adults, older kids, younger kids; pretty much anybody anywhere.  Rest assured we meet and make new friends everywhere all the time!  Really we do!

Here are a few ways my kids socialize even though we homeschool:

  1. The local park- have you ever watched a group of kids at a park?  Playing side by side somehow leads to conversations and group play.  They socialize on their own terms, make up their own rules, and find ways to cooperative play together.  
  2. Homeschool groups and meet-ups- We're part of several different homeschool groups and that has enabled us to meet lots of new people.  We meet up with groups of homeschoolers at least a few times each month (sometimes each week!) and since new homeschoolers join our midst all the time we have lots of opportunities to make new friends. 
  3. Field trips- While we often take off on our own to explore places, which we love, because my boys then have the opportunity to make connections with and ask plenty of questions with various workers we also meet up with fellow homeschoolers for group field trips too.  
  4. karate- My kids have participated in several different karate schools learning various forms of martial arts.  They meet kids from public, private and other homeschool families that are also taking classes.  
  5. Soccer- My kids are young enough that they can still join in local team sports that are not yet organized by the school.  They have reconnected with public school acquaintances and made new friends while learning a new sport.  
  6. Basketball- See Soccer. 
  7. The beach- Much like playing at a park, my kids seem to gravitate toward other kids they meet on the beach.  Even though we typically only go to the beach in the "off" season we still meet at least a few other kids and my boys end up playing with them; building castles together, digging holes in the sand, jumping waves, and climbing rocks.  
  8. Having friends over- We keep in touch with most of the friends my boys made while in public and private school by having them over to play and hang out quite frequently.  All of my boys are still in touch with friends they made in preschool & first grade!  The boys also get to have homeschool friends over during the school week and even during the school day! 
  9. Go over friends' houses-  see have friends over. 
  10. Go to parties- We're invited to all sorts of parties; birthday parties, fourth of July parties, not back to school parties, you name it.  My kids love going to parties and always meet at least a few new people; sometimes they hit it off really well with someone and even make a new friend. 
  11. Homeschool classes- We've participated in a few different classes for homeschoolers and my boys always have fun meeting new people and learning something new.  
  12. Summer camps- My boys have participated in a summer camp here and there and they like meeting new kids with similar interests.  
  13. Zoos- My kids love talking to other families when we're visiting the different zoos.  They have a lot of knowledge about animals and love to share all that they know.  
  14. Aquarium- see zoos. 
  15. Museums- My kids have fun talking with museum docents and other museum goers when we're there.  They aren't afraid to ask questions or strike up conversations. 
  16. On vacation- Two years in a row Alec has made friends with children from other countries while on vacation.  He loves listening to the various accents and learning about their homelands.  My kids often strike up conversations or play games with other kids in the hotel pool or waiting in lines for rides.  
  17. Restaurants-  Mostly my kids socialize with the waitstaff when we go out to eat but they'll strike up conversations with other people while we're waiting for a table.  
  18. Library- Our library sponsors many wonderful programs throughout the year and my kids love to participate in them.  They'll also look around the library every week when we go to see if they know anyone and have met up with old school friends and teachers.  They're on a first name basis with most of the librarians too.  
  19. Piano/ Guitar/ Music Lessons- My kids have taken music lessons off and on with various music teachers.  Occasionally they meet other students but mostly they have a great time bonding with their teacher over their passion for music. 
  20.  Family- This last one may sound a little weird but my kids get a lot of socializing time with their family; each other, mom, dad, grandparents, cousins, great grandparents, great- great aunts, etc.  We see other family members often; more often than just holidays and special events.  
Linking Up With: Hip Homeschooling,

I Choose Joy!

Link up your family friendly posts to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop