Showing posts with label Homeschool Highlights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeschool Highlights. Show all posts

June 24, 2013

A week in the life of a Homeschool Family ::The Homeschool Mother's Journal /1::

This week, I decided I would begin regularly participating in the Homeschool Mother's Journal over at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?  I'm really excited to finally have a great way to begin sharing more of what we do around here each week. It kind of makes me grin that I'm starting this little feature here at the beginning of Summer break. Even though we are taking a much needed siesta from our typical lessons, we have plans to continue our learning right through the Summer.
In my life this week…
This week was a trying one for all of us here, on many levels. We spent 6 out of 9 days in either the ER, the hospital or seeing our regular doctor. Dragging four boys around to many of these planned appointments and unexpected ones too, was definitely not on my to-do list for the week. But, we're used to spending lots of time seeing doctors and my boys have learned how to be more patient because of which I am grateful.

Our 7 year old son, C had surgery on Friday to fix his Bone Anchored Hearing Aid implant. It was loose and also causing him quite a bit of pain, so he hasn't been able to wear it normally. Even now, as he waits for it to heal, he can only wear his aid on a strap around his head which causes his hearing to be quite a bit less than what he's become so used to with his implant. Thank God for the ASL we learned starting when he was a tiny baby, as we've needed to fall back on it quite a bit these past couple weeks.

Note to self: brush up on sign language and make continuing to learn the language more a part of our everyday learning.

Thanking God for sustaining us during these difficult days. (above photo: yep, that's me all gowned up to take our son to the Operating Room.)

My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
  • Spending time with Grandma JoAnn and Cousin Terri
  • Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins
  • Long bike rides with Daddy

Things I’m working on…
Oh, friends, my list is long. As we settle into Summer, we are gearing up for a week long camping trip soon...something this family of 6 has never done before. My husband, Jeff, has taken the bigger boys a few times, but this will be our first time going all together as a family. So, I'm packing. Washing laundry, making lists, washing more laundry and making lists. It's impossible for me to pick out clothes for four boys NOW, when they need these clothes to wear during the week. I can set a few things aside, but really...they go through so many clothes. I may just make them wear the same thing all week, just to keep my laundry heaps to a that I'm mostly caught up.

I also have a lot of updating to do here at Devotional Motherhood, which I'm really excited to share with you soon. And, I've got quite a few blog posts I'm wrapping up this week.

I'm also in the throws of school planning for the Fall, like many of you. We are looking forward to MANY changes to our routine and schedule that I know are going to be such a positive thing for our family as a whole. We'll still continue homeschooling some at night, but instead of leaving our days wide open for whatever we feel like...they will be a bit more structured. I'll be sharing more about that and why, soon...along with all the fun unit studies we have planned for the year.

And...I'm working on a couple books, three actually. Well, four if you count the one I'm also writing with my boys. So excited! A couple of them are a collaborative effort that have been in the works for a while now. And one is a true story God has been writing on my heart since I was a little girl. I can barely contain how thankful I am that I GET to write for God! Truly, it is all Him. I could never write what's on my heart unless He was a part of the process. He Authors, I write.

And I'll just throw this one in here....I need to start exercising EVERY DAY! There. Done. I said it. Will someone keep me accountable, please?

I’m cooking…
I should just leave it at that...I'm Cooking...and thankful to be doing so. When our home became a water disaster back in March, forcing us to move out and into a one bedroom (with four young boys) apartment with a very tiny kitchen and NO was difficult at best. Now that we are moved back home and our home is no longer a construction zone, I have my kitchen back. So thankful. By nature, I'm not a great cook. I've never really enjoyed it either...but slowly, as the Lord leads and my heart is turned more and more toward Him, my desires are changing. I WANT to provide better, healthier meals for my family. MUCH healthier.

So, we embarking on a total overhaul of our eating habits beginning July 15. Why wait? Because our pantry if full and trying to make these changes while on vacation would not be a recipe for start-up success. So, July 15th, it is. This will be a HUGE undertaking for my family, as we haven't been the healthiest eaters. In fact, quite the opposite. But, it's time. God is leading us toward a healthier lifestyle and we need to follow Him on this. And it will be another journey I'll be sharing here at Devotional Motherhood.

I’m grateful for…
  • The AWESOME (and much needed) date my husband and I were finally able to go on. We were reminded of just how much we miss one another when we're living life side by side, but often the constant noise and DOING part of life just keeps you going on auto-pilot and it's easy to take one another for granted. Dating your spouse is so important!
  • My Mom, Mother-in-law and Cousin who stepped in to help out with our boys when we needed to be at the hospital so much this past week. They lightened our load and eased our burden so much. 
  • All of our beautiful friends and family who lifted us up in prayer when we needed it most this week. 
  • The new habit of waking EARLY (5am) so I can start my day in the quiet with Jesus. My Good Morning Girls online bible study group, led by my sweet friend, Shonda Knowlton, is such a blessing to me. We are reading the book, Anything, by Jennie Allen and spending time deep in the Word every day. And my Hello Mornings online group is amazing too, as they help keep me accountable to getting up and out of bed to be with God each day. I value my online friends so much! 
  • My boys! Oh, they just keep me on my knees. Motherhood is hard. It's amazing and it's beautiful...and it's hard. I've had many reasons lately to be deep in prayer for my sons, deeper than usual, it seems.....and for that, I'm thankful. I'm thankful to God that He hears every single one of my prayers.
I’m praying for… many things. But, my heart this week, is for my sons. I'm praying that God would increase my faith and help me remember that they are His. I am praying for softened hearts and a way for this mama to communicate with them at the heart level more often.

I rewarded my kids this week by…
Letting them watch way too many cartoons because they were all sick, even after we decided to pull the plug on MOST TV, declaring a MEDIA BREAK for the Summer  That was frustrating for me because we had done so well the week before without the added screen time each day. Attitudes were improving all around and we were actually beginning to enjoy our days without the early morning and sometimes late afternoon cartoons. Good habits are so hard to make, aren't they.

But, I think cartoons may be helpful when you're not feeling well. 

It's a new week, though. Everyone is feeling much better and we've got some outdoors to get to.

Something I am ogling or have my eye on…
Unit Study ideas and resources on Pinterest.

A photo of my guys…
I gave my boys buzz cuts this weekend. Love these boys to pieces.

Be sure to head over to So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler? to link-up and read other Homeschool Mother's Journals from this week. 

November 25, 2011

Homeschool Co-op

Recently we joined a new (to us) homeschool co-op. They meet on Fridays at a church nearby. Sometimes they go swimming at the pool or go on field trips. And other times, families will plan and teach a lesson for the whole group to join.

Last Friday was our first day joining with the group. One of the moms taught a great lesson surrounding Mexico. The two activities were making tortillas and learning how to make your own loom and weave with it. C was all over this!!! If he could just do projects and hands on activities all the time, life would be a dream for him. O was enthusiastic, but I had to talk him into trying the weaving. Once he tried, he liked it and decided to make a superhero cape for one of his action figures. T did a really great job being content just to be a part of things with his brothers and friends. And the tortillas were YUMMY! We'll be making more of those.

Honestly, I was a bit nervous going. At 18 months, our youngest little boy is difficult to keep in one place. And when I try??? Typically, he screams. Normal, I know. But still. I didn't want him disrupting the boys' class.Did I mention he's also INTO EVERYTHING!!!! He can be a little wrecking ball at times, especially when he climbs up on top of tables and chairs. I still love him to pieces.

I was so pleasantly surprised! All of our boys did great. And the little noise E made, wasn't even noticeable. We felt totally accepted and thankful that we found a group of families walking along the same paths we are. I really loved seeing the mix in ages of the kids and how they interacted with one another.

My friend, Jenny, joined as well. Here are some pictures of us enjoying the activities of the day.

September 7, 2011

First Day of School

In honor of our first official day back to school, I thought I'd update with some pictures! Most of these were taken last week while we enjoyed the last of our completely unstructured Summer days. We have BIG plans for this school year, which I'll post about soon. I'm really excited for a more rewarding, more challenging, more BLESSED homeschooling year!

From left to right: O, T, E, and C

Our amazing O!

Our brave C!

Our sweet T!

Our adorable caboose...E!

August 24, 2011

Reminding them that they're heroes with Homeschool Share Lessons

Our boys love LOVE all things superheroes! Really, that's an understatement. They love superhero cartoons, books, superhero theme songs, action figures, name it...they love it. But one of the things they love most is dressing up like the heroes they see in our community, read about in books or watch on TV. (yes, we try to limit their viewing pleasure) We get such a kick out of watching them make up their own versions of what they think superheroes are.

We are blessed to have lots of dress up clothes given to us by family and friends. It's been one of their most treasured play time activities. Who can blame them? Turning in to Goop Guy who saves his friends from imminent danger and then goes on to save the world sounds pretty amazing! Or what about turning into Spider Man, but with enhanced super powers that can create protective force fields around himself and others who need protection? Or how about H2O Man who uses his natural water resources to direct the flow of water to put out fires everywhere. It's really the best...watching our boys pretend to be heroes that save others and bring peace to the planet...all to the theme song, Superman.

But wait, isn't that what we want our children to become? Heroes! Don't we want our kids to grow up knowing and believing that God's call on their lives is to love others, stand up for the weak and be peacemakers, all while trusting God and loving Him?

So when I received an invite to review a new Super Hero themed Kindergarten  pack from Homeschool Share, I jumped at the chance. What's also great is that this is FREE and pretty all inclusive. After printing the lesson pages, I noticed right away how easy it would be for me to adapt these lessons for my 3 and 7 year old as they REALLY wanted to join in the fun with my 5 year old son.

As I began handing out copies of the colorful superhero pages and giving directions, it became clear that this lesson was going to bring some unexpected opportunities for deeper discussion. Love it when we can connect at the heart level about life with our sons.

As O and C started writing down their ideas of what characteristics the masked superhero had and how he helped others, we began talking about real life heroes. It was the perfect way to talk about their Daddy, whom of course is their REAL LIFE SUPERHERO, and all the ways that he loves and protects them. We were able to talk about God and His Supernatural love and protection over all of us...truly our hero and Savior in every sense of the word. And then, we brought it home...made it really real for them.

I reminded them that they, too, are heroes....superheroes, the kind that love their friends and show understanding when they're disappointed (a work in progress). They help one another and are sympathetic when one gets hurt. They comfort their baby brother when he is crying and help mommy when she needs it. They stand up for each other and their friends when someone hurls insults or rudeness their way. And they are brave and courageous when trials of many kinds enter their world. I also reminded them that they pray. Becoming a prayer warrior, someone who prays in all things, unceasingly, delights our Heavenly Father.

Something special happens when you tell your child that they, too, are heroes...the Super kind.

It was then that we talked about praying for our enemies and those who sin against us...not an easy thing to do, especially with a loving heart. But, we did. We waited for Daddy to come home and we prayed for those who have sinned against us, including each other. And in that moment, I thanked God for creating the love of superheroes in my boys. The imaginary ones and real life ones fuel their desires to become men of courage and strength...brave in the face of the enemy and bold in their pursuit of saving the world. This is God's work in them and through them. Someday, they'll understand more fully how powerful our greatest Hero is and that THAT is our Father's greatest desire....that everyone would come to Him so that He could save them from their enemy.

These rough and tumble, tenderhearted warriors nearly destroy me and also bless me every single day. They bring me to my knees and remind me that prayer is the most important offensive and defensive weapon we have. Being a real live superhero involves A LOT of learning along the way.....part of the lifetime sanctification process. Superhero training at it's best! I SO get that as my own faith journey is filled with constant tossing about and then coming back as He works in my heart ever so graciously. When I stop and remember that we're raising men, not little boys, and that even on our toughest days, when I don't feel like we'll make it to the next minute,....Jesus is right there. He knows our hearts like no other.

All of the printables in this pack come in color. We printed several extra copies in black and white to save ink.

Signing the letter "F" as he fills in the missing letters.

Signing the letter "O".

C had never done an activity like this one was really good for him and gave him a really sense of accomplishment.
So, as you can see, this Superhero Kindergarten pack was a perfect means to learning about superhero characteristics, God's role in their lives and grace for others. The fact that we could do all of this WHILE working on tracing, cutting, pasting, letter recognition, writing practice, counting, calendar skills and thinking skills was PERFECT. And I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use for all three of my big boys. They loved it! We're even going to laminate their cutout superheroes to create a fun game later.

Homeschool Share is one of our favorite resources for unit studies. This one is brand new and will be up on their website soon along with several other new Kindergarten packs. Be sure to check there for the Superhero K pack when you visit their site. I can't wait to check out more of their free offerings and unit studies this Fall. They always seem to have what we need! Thank you Homeschool Share for being such a great resource for families like us.

February 5, 2011

Flashcards are great, but.... our house they get ruined and/or misplaced quite easily. Once, our 2 year old dumped the entire bag of cards we had and then proceeded to lay all over them and happily mix them all up while I was in the other room. This was not a small bag of flashcards. There were somewhere around 20 packages (about 600 cards) now all mixed up in one big pile all over the living room floor...not that big of a deal, right?! We could turn this into a matching game and put them all back in the right flashcard boxes. However, every time I tried to make that happen, the boys would get distracted too easily by the cards themselves and then my 2 year old would begin dumping everything again, rendering these cards useless and me frustrated. 

Fast forward about 9 months. Our sweet T is now almost 3 and much more cooperative and we've since matched all the flashcards back to their respective sets. Now that they're no longer useless, I began wondering how we could use these flashcards in a fun way. We have so many different kinds....animals, insects, presidents, math, letters, sounds, sight words, states, countries, dinosaurs, ASL, Australian animals, numbers, planets/space, etc.

Then it hit me! We've been needing to establish more of a morning routine around here. Back when O and C were really little, we made a learning board that featured the letter of the week we were working on along with all kinds of other themes of the week. It was great having that visual up in front of them all the time and they loved that it changed every few days. It really was a helpful tool. But after about a year or so, we discontinued using it because it got to be too much work recreating it every week. I've always loved the idea, though, so I went to a few of the blogs that I love and did some research. The idea of Calendar Time along with having a Morning Board is something I've read a lot about.We've had our calendar set-up for quite a while. And now we have our Learning Board to go along with it, complete with a great way to use our flashcards.

Our Calendar with all of the laminated numbers, days of the week and weather related pieces.

Our Learning Board, made of a cardboard trifold poster board. All of the pieces are velcroed to the board. The board, itself, is velcroed to our playroom door. When it's not in use, I close the folds and it stays fastened shut with another piece of velcro. (did I mention that I LOVE velcro?)

Top left: laminated Temperature sheet. There is a thermometer for inside and outside. With a dry erase pen, O checks the temperatures and writes in the answers. The yellow, green and blue folders are for each of the three older boys. I put something different in each one each day. On this day, I included conversation prompt cards. Top middle: Skip counting practice. I have sheets that go all the way up to skip counting by 12s. Clear pocket: cards from our Virtue of the Month at church. The 3 beige pockets: this is where I use the majority of our flashcards.

Top right: This is a place where we can include someone we are intentionally praying for.

I also love my laminator!! I found these Character Trait cards that include Scripture verses. Love these. And then I include something that we're working learning how to set the table.

I made these sheets by drawing the pie shapes, then laminating and adding a spinner. I use these for all sorts of games. This week I wrote Upper Case and Lower Case Letters on them with a dry erase pen. C and T are learning to match their letters.

Another blog find. This is laminated also so that O and C can mark off the days and work on identifying numbers to 100.
So thankful that we are able to get some good use out of all the flashcards we have. Thank you to Homeschool Creations, 1+1+1=1, Confessions of a Homeschooler, and Mama Jenn for all of your wonderful ideas, resources and for making so many of your printables available to others.

February 3, 2011

School highlights...

Since the beginning of January, things have picked up around here, school-wise. Now that E is napping a bit more regularly and I am finally a bit more organized, we are finding our groove. We still LOVE unit studies and find that they are so easy to use for multiple ages. Most of my favorite places to find great FREE units are listed in my sidebar, although, we usually pick bits and pieces from many different sources and go from there. I love how a unit study can incorporate all educational subjects and lead us down more paths than I could ever plan for ahead of time. So, I keep my notebook nearby when someone says, "oohhhhh, we should learn more about that" or I realize as we're studying one subject that we could so easily lead right into another theme I hadn't even thought of.

Many wonderful things have come out of our studies lately...things that I never planned, but always hope will happen. Those jewels that remind me that THIS is why we're on this path.
We're also REALLY enjoying biographies! Recently, we've touched on Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Helen Keller to name a few.

The boys, especially O, have also really been into Dragons lately. So, we checked out a bunch of books from the library, found some online resources and began our study. Two books we especially loved were 'My Father's Dragon' and 'St. George and the Dragon'. And of course, we saw the movie, 'How to Train your Dragon', which everyone loved as well.

We're also loving our Geography studies. Reading books that include different geographical locations in a story are such a great way for our boys to become interested in learning more about a place. For instance, 'Grandfather's Journey' included the story of a man who loved two in Japan and the other in California. So, we've been taking the time to compare these two places, checking out more books and pouring over maps. Then, my mom went to Hawaii a couple weeks ago. She brought back treasures for the boys and we started learning more about Hawaii, it's traditions, climate and it's volcanoes. Speaking of volcanoes....we compared Mt. Fuji with Mt. Kilauea and then talked about Mt. St. Helens in our own state. Youtube is awesome for volcano footage! Anyway, you can see how one thing can so easily lead to another and when it does, we just go with it. Those are our best days!

One of our Dragon books when we were learning about the Chinese New Year.

O made a Chinese Dragon with colored shapes.

Daddy doing ANOTHER volcano experiment with the kids. They love this!

When we studies Martin Luther King, I had the boys tell me what they would say if they were to write an "I have a dream" speech. We talked at length about MLK's beliefs and how God wants us to live our lives. The top "dream" is O's and the bottom one is C's.

We got our some manipulatives for C and T, mostly, but everyone enjoyed the math games we played.

I found these great printable cards at

C made this hat after watching an episode of Curious George who also made a very cool hat.

There's fish crackers inside that come out of a trap door on the side. CLEVER!

O drew this picture and told me it was a picture of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins so He could forgive us. The two circles at the top are what Jesus is thinking about...on the left is a man making a bad choice and then the same man (right circle) changes his mind and makes a good choice. The men on the bottom are the ones making bad choices and killing Jesus. "But Jesus HAD to die on the cross to save us".

Our dining room table is where most school work happens that involves writing, coloring and generally messy madness. Hence, the permanent markings all over our table! So, we have an unused clear shower curtain liner. I threw it over the table and voila...a protective cover AND a dry erase space. While O was practicing some spelling and writing, he asked me to show him how to write something. I hadn't thought of doing this until that very moment. I grabbed a dry erase pen and wrote on the liner. O's eyes lit up as he realized the potential here. After that, he practiced his letters  on the liner first, then wrote them in the book and also drew pictures of the things he was writing. COOL!!!

Then we added in some rhyming and ASL....O is signing BIG....


Here he's signing GRIN, rhymes with pin.


Working together!!

My friend Jenny reading to all of our kiddos.

Our big boy T showing E how to use the Star Wars computer.
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