Showing posts with label Top 10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Top 10. Show all posts

October 10, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Online Resources for Learning & Teaching Kids This Week

I've needed a bit of inspiration this week. So, as usual, when I take time to seek God, He points me in the right direction. In an always increasing effort to simplify and streamline my online time, I decided to begin posting my favorite online links again.

There are so many AMAZING bloggers and online resources out there. I often forget about my favorite ones because I'm always running across new ones. I bookmark them, add them to my Google Reader, follow them on Facebook and Twitter....and then suddenly, I'm swimming in a sea of links and I can't remember where I saw that great teaching tool or lesson plan. I've forgotten which blogger wrote about that free resource that I really wanted to take advantage of. I'm sure Pinterest could help me, but I'd rather keep all my favs in one place...HERE. 

So, here are my Top 10 Favorite Learning Links this week:

  1. Keys for Kids: My boys are young, so bible devotions need to be short and sweet at this point. Although we strive to impress our boys' hearts with the Word of God throughout the day, I still try to do daily devotions with them each morning after breakfast. Keys for Kids is an online daily devotional that is perfect for us because it's brief, life applicable and always leaves us with a jumping off point for really great conversations. 
  2. Chronicles of Narnia: I ran across this and am OVERJOYED about it. I have been meaning to start reading these books with my oldest, so when I found the ENTIRE AUDIO SET FOR FREE online, I bookmarked it and we've been listening to a few chapters every day. 
  3. Talking About Sex with Kids: Sex education expert Mary Flo Ridley encourages parents to have a good offense for discussing sexuality with their children from a biblical foundation, beginning at a young age. This broadcast was so good and I encourage all parents to listen to it. Miss Ridley has a book I plan to buy as well, called Simple Truths: A Simple, Natural Approach to Discussing Sex With Your Children.
  4. The S.O.A.P Method to Bible Study: Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. I love this and plan to implement it into my study time! Amy, discusses a simple way to read through the Lord’s word, pray and reflect on what He might be telling you in that passage. Head on over to Mom's Toolbox to learn more. While you're there, check out the rest of her site....AMAZING!
  5. Kids S.O.A.P Method to Bible Study! Kris over at Wierd Unsocialized Homeschoolers (don't you love that name?) was the one who clued me in to the S.O.A.P method. She has written a great post about how to use this method of bible study with your kids. So thankful I read this as I work toward implementing this method with my boys. Also, Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations has created a great S.O.A.P. Study printable for kids to use. I'm printing these out today. Both of these moms' sites are FILLED with awesomeness! 
  6. Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational: This afterschooling mom of two boys loves to create fun (and sneaky) ways to build upon what her oldest son, a first grader, is learning in school. She is brilliant and enjoying the journey of instilling a love of learning in her child. I am already using many of her great teaching games and activities with my boys.
  7. Housecleaning Strategies: Although this post was written specifically for homeschool families, it just as easily could have been written for any busy mom in search of some help in this area. My friend and fellow writer over at the Hip Homeschool Moms eloquently wrote this great post and it's FILLED with really useful ideas for moms like me who live and work every day in their homes. 
  8. A Year of Slow Cooking: My good friend, Charlotte (and also my co-moderator of the Homeschooling Boys group over at The Homeschool Lounge) pointed me to this site when I asked the group how on Earth everyone is feeding their very hungry boys. I'm looking forward to finding more ways I can begin using my crockpot on a more regular basis.
  9. 31 Days of Simple Outdoor Adventures with Boys: This one is obvious! We have four boys. This mom also has four boys...QUADRUPLETS! And my boys, like hers, love to be outside.
  10. Impress Your Kids: I love everything about this site. Amanda is a mom on a journey to impress her kids' hearts with the Love of God and His Word. She blesses and inspires me with her faith and honesty. She has written so many amazing posts...too many to list here, but one that I am thankful for is her 31 Days to Impress Your Kids.
There it 10 favorite resources for the week. I hope they bless you as much as they are blessing me and my family. What are your favs this week?

Affiliate links included within this post.

Linked up with: Thought Provoking Thursday, Live Called, Many Little Blessings, Women Living Well, Kids in the Word Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesdays, Raising Homemaker

July 2, 2012

10 Tips for New Homeschoolers

This week, I was honored and excited to be able to participate in the iHomeschool Network's 10 in 10 weeks series over at The Homeschool Classroom. I thought long and hard about my topic...10 Tips For New Homeschool Families. In some ways I still feel like a brand new homeschooler myself and on at other times, I feel like we've really come a long way in the last four years. I know that seasons will change, our boys will get older and we'll all get a little wiser and more proficient each least I hope.

But I remember that very lost and excited and overwhelmed feeling I felt when we first made the decision to homeschool our kids. The road ahead was wide open and when I say WIDE...I mean, there was a sign in front of me that had a thousand different arrows pointing in all different directions that I was free to take. I could choose any road I wanted. We could homeschool however we chose to...still can. And we love that freedom. But, because I was overwhelmed with the amount of choices and options available, I really tried to choose many different roads all at once. This only led to a road called "frustration".

I learned a lot in those first couple of years...I still am. And I am so grateful for the women who have come along side of me to love and support me along the way. I am also thankful for my online tribe that blesses me daily with their encouraging words and blog posts that really speak to my heart.

So, if you're new (or newer) to homeschooling or just in need of a bit of encouragement, I pray you'll head over to The Homeschool Classroom so I can share with you my 10 Tips for New Homeschool Families.

The Homeschool Classrom

May 21, 2012

!0 sick day tricks...for mom

Typically, around here, it's my boys who get sick first. During the cold and flu season...ugh...we're sick constantly. And when that happens, it can take a couple weeks or longer to get back to normal again. I'm sure that once our boys are older and they aren't licking doorknobs or handrails, touching everything in the grocery stores and remember to wash their hands after blowing their noses....we won't be plagued with as many colds. I hope.

Until such time, we endure.

Handling all of the runny noses, stuffy noses, constant coughing, croup and sleeplessness is something we just, well....handle. But when I am out of's a little different. When moms get sick, life kind of just has to slow down. In our house, the dishes get left longer in the sink...much longer. The laundry piles become mountains. School work either ceases or we just read together. And the media options are used much more frequently.

This typically happens for me when I am run down from dealing with everyone else being sick in my family, when I, myself am sick and...this one is often the worst....when I get a migraine. I've been plagued with these since I was around 15 years old and they are AWFUL. So, when I get one, not only am I pretty much not able to function, I just need to shut down.

How does one do that in a house full of little boys?  

Here are 10 magical tricks for allowing mom to get some rest while keeping her crew safe and happy when she is sick! 
And yes, I take FULL advantage of every one of these....

Homeschool Sick Days for Mom
  1. My favorite!! Ahead of time, put together an "Emergency--Take Care of Mom--Kit" for your kids. Only pull it out when you are sick and NEED to lay down and rest. When I'm sick, I pull this magical "First Aid" kit out. It's filled with band aids of all shapes and sizes, medical tape, syringes, stethoscope (real or kid kind), any other doctor type tools you or the kids have, and "Owie Cream", which is actually my favorite lotion for them to rub on my feet and hands. Fill your kit with whatever medical supplies you have, is safe and you don't mind using. My boys love this and come up with all kinds of scenarios as to why I need medical attention. Plus, they're boys...they love to be mom's hero! Yes, I end up covered in band aids and I'm usually sporting an Ace Bandage wrapped ankle or two...but they love it, and so do I.
  2. When I need to rest, I also let my boys brush my hair and do all kinds of weird stuff to it. I put my foot down in letting them use any gels or products in it. But, my hair is long and they can make it look pretty crazy. They think this is great fun and I get to have my hair played with, which always feels good when I have a migraine. 
  3. I let them take turns snapping pictures with my digital camera and iPhone camera. They pretend like they're secret spies and have to go get pictures and report back to mom. These are always hilarious! Then we use our many different editing apps to "enhance" these photos and send some to Dad at work.
  4. Meals need to happen at some point. On days when I can barely pull myself to the kitchen and the smell of food isn't helping, I give them directions and specific jobs to go forth and conquer making a meal together. It works. Somehow, they know that they just have to work together and get the job done if they want to eat. This is definitely one of those areas where teaching them ahead of time is such a good idea. Our kids need to learn how to help out in the kitchen, not just for when they're older...but for days when they're help is needed NOW. 
  5. On these days, we eat most of our meals picnic style in the playroom....where I am laying on the couch. Again, they are capable of setting this up. My oldest is 8 and our youngest is only 2. They are fully capable of helping at these ages. And I always love to see them not only helping EACH OTHER and me, but even serving one another. 
  6. We listen to audiobooks on CD or on our iPod. There's a great resource list of audiobooks for boys over at The Homeschool Classroom. I can't wait to get my hands on some of these. Libraries are a great place to find books on CD. And anymore, there are so many that you can download from your local library to your media device. This helps when you can't even leave the house because you're so sick. 
  7. Of course, one of my favorites is just cuddling up together with lots of blankets and pillows to read a good book or 12. ( I do this when I'm feeling a bit better.)
  8. We bring out the dress up bin and my boys become knights, dragons, Spiderman, Batman, Construction Worker guy, various animals and other super heroes, pirates and made up characters. I love to see their creative sides come out. Typically, because they have my full attention (I'm not going anywhere off this couch) they will perform many stunts and skits for me while I lay there and rest. 
  9. At this point, if they've already played outside, built forts and obstacle courses and played with their Legos....I'll let them play their Wii games. Now typically because there are four of them and I'm trying to keep everyone happy and quiet so that I can be happily sick and quiet....I bring out our other various media devices so that everyone can be content while they wait to rotate to the next media option. I sounds a bit indulgent and it really does drive me crazy to allow it....but a girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do when she's sick. It works for a while.
  10. And then when that is exhausted, they've had a media break and Daddy will be home soon....I ask the boys to make a snack together, bring it out to the playroom and we turn on a show from Netflix and watch it together. 
Notice, I hardly got off the couch. Now, this is what works for me right now, in this season of motherhood. Next year, it might look different. Last year, it definitely looked different. My toddler was only one and was much more needy. But as long as I stayed near the ground while he could play and climb all over me, it worked.

And if I'm so sick, I need help, I just call my sweet mom. She's amazing and THE BEST MOM around! She will drop everything to come rescue me if I need her while Jeff is at work. I bet we all have someone we can call on when we just have to be sick ALONE.

I'm so thankful for kids who somehow know that when Mom is sick, it's time to pull it together and put some of that good training to use. They really are great kids and I adore them so. They bless me every time I'm not feeling well with their kindness and help.

What are your tricks for getting through the day when you're so sick you need to just lay down? 

Linking up with: 
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

March 20, 2012

Top 10 Reasons We Love Spring!

Finally, it's Spring. The last 6 months in the Pacific Northwest felt particularly long this year. I'm sure I say that every year. Nonetheless, I'm grateful. For us living in the rainier part of the country, I feel very thankful for a new season filled with hope and newness. Here are my top ten reasons why...

1. My boys love to pick flowers for me and I love it when one of them hands me my first Crocus of the season.

2. The longer daylight hours provide hope and excitement for the longer sunnier days ahead...we get to be outside all the time!

 3. We can take our school work outside once in a while, which also includes a lot of critter gathering...SCIENCE!

4. Our Outdoor Adventure Club happens more regularly. In these wetter parts, sometimes you have to just throw on your technical gear (waterproof everything) and get out in the weather...but I am always thankful when we can shed our layers and let the sun touch our skin.

5. I know it's still pretty wet around here in the Spring, but I'm hopeful. Drier, warmer days are ahead and we are looking forward to playing more often with friends outside.

6. Baseball season begins....

7. On the days that are still cold, but dry, we love to head up to the lake near our house and explore!

8. Spring is the time of year when all of our babies were born, so for's also birthday season!

9. It means cold and flu season are on it's way OUT!!!! With four young kids in our home, it takes forever for and illness to make it's way out of our home. I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

10. Spring cleaning! Need I say more? OK, actually that there is this strange light that streams through our windows more often, I can see the dust and the dirt everywhere. I also get a sudden urge to purge at this time of year. I love the feeling of organizing the things we want to keep and getting rid of those things we just don't need anymore, but someone else might.

I love having a reason to look back over the last couple years in photos and ponder the many reasons why we love Spring!

Linking up with:

February 28, 2012

Top Ten Ways I Use My iPhone to Seek God

I've had my iPhone for several months now and LOVE it for many reasons other than it's phone/communication capabilities (although I love that too). Since I am never left with an abundance of time, or even a sliver of time on most days, I gotta find time to get filled with God's Truth somehow. My iPhone has been my LIFE-saver for this reason: it helps me sneak in bits of time to read and listen to uplifting, encouraging and life-giving truths while I live out my days with four young boys near by at all times and my husband by my side.

Here is my Top Ten List of Ways I Use My iPhone to Seek God in Our Day.
  1. This might sound simple, but my Gmail app is one of my faves because of it's Google Reader function. I'm subscribed to and follow many amazing blogs that encourage and inspire me in one way or another. I love being able to go to my Reader and easily scan the titles of all the posts from that day (and previous days) to read what jumps out at me. Some blogs consistently fill me spiritually. Some give practical ideas and advice while others chronicle their walks of faith so authentically and beautifully...I feel "at home" when I'm visiting their blogs.
  2. Heard of Beth Moore? I adore her! She is one of my all time favorite bible teachers. I've done several of her studies, but also have found two places online where she teaches and I can listen for free. You can find her at Life Today every Wednesday teaching amazing lessons. These can be viewed or listened to. You can get the Life Today app or, what I prefer is to find these tapings from the Life Today show HERE.
  3. Beth always has a teaching series going on over over at When I find a website I want to be able to access quickly and easily on my iPhone, like any app at any time, I just click the little arrow in the square at the bottom of the screen and then click "add to home screen". Then it's saved there forever. Easy! 
  4. When I need to look up a passage of Scripture, I am thankful for my app. It's so quick and easy to use. Plus there are lots of other great features that make it a great app.(and it's free!) 
  5. You Version is my other favorite bible app. I use this one mostly for it's bible reading plans and awesome devotionals. There are lots of them!
  6. Focus on the Family has a great free app that enables me to easily access their daily broadcasts. I love to listen to Focus while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. I actually look forward to doing my dishes every night.
  7. Another place I like to fill up on God's Word is at Mars Hill. Every sermon series ever done is nicely categorized for me to access on their Mars Hill app.. Pastor Mark Driscoll is an incredible bible teacher and author whose mission is to make Jesus famous to the world. 
  8. Speaking of, their app is a really good one for accessing all kinds of popular bible teachers. Just search for Oneplace in the app store.
  9. Parent Cue is an app I just discovered for our whole family that we use as part of our bible study with  our boys. 252 Basics is the creator of this free app and a really amazing virtue based curriculum complete with videos for your kids, yourself, memory verses, activities and articles surrounding each virtue of the month. To access even more of their content, you can sign up for a free account online at their website.
  10. And one of the best ways I use my iPhone for seeking God in my day is to listen to praise and worship music. Sometimes I listen to one of the Christian stations I created on my Pandora app, music we've already downloaded (both kid and adult praise music) and other times we'll listen to songs we've saved to our favorites list on our Youtube app.
Linking up with:  
Top Ten {Tuesday} 
Hip Homeschool Moms (Blog Hop) 
Thought Provoking Thursday

February 19, 2012

Our Top 10 Fun Learning Activities

LOVE these BOYS!

Some days I feel like there are just not enough hours in a day and then other days, the minutes can feel like hours. We like to mix things up with our school lessons and often our days are filled with fun activities, emphasis on ACTIVE. The traditional school mindset in me has to keep fighting the voice that tells me we're not doing enough seat work at the table.

But then I remember why we began homeschooling. It wasn't so we could do busy work or fill out lots and lots of worksheets. Now, personally, I'm a seat-work kinda girl. I love worksheets and writing, printables and lapbooks. I could spend hours quietly sitting and doing school work. All things done at the table...yep, that's me. I love it. But, our boys don't. They'll take it in small doses, but generally, most of their learning happens away from the table, where they can be active and usually loud.     

We love the ability to be flexible with our schedules, being creative and adventurous and following our passions while learning all of the fundamentals along the way. We're ALL for learning our core subjects along with history, science, social studies and art. But we can do most of those things anywhere there's action to be found and a discovery to be made. 

Here is my TOP 10 list of things we're doing with our boys to keep them engaged, learning, challenged and having fun right now.
  1. Scavenger hunts. My boys (I think all boys) love them! Scavenger Hunts can be used for teaching so many different things as well as keeping things fun and interesting. Here's a link to one of our Scavenger Hunts!
  2. Science Experiments. These are so fun and easy to do.We've been doing at least 3 or 4 a week. I also LOVE it when I can teach God's Truth through one of our experiments. Here is an article I wrote about one such experiment that we refer to over and over again and two great Science Experiment books:  We Dare You!: Hundreds of Science Bets, Challenges, and Experiments You Can Do at Home and Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun.
  3. Getting outside to explore...and be more intentional about pointing out God's Creation, asking questions as we explore and collect treasures for crafts at home. (great place for a scavenger hunt as well)
  4. More Unit Studies.(here's one we did for little ones about Super Heroes) And this is how we learn with Unit Studies (for all ages).
  5. Go on field trips that pertain to those areas of study. They don't have to be expensive, just planned ahead of time. For instance, we've been working on a unit study about community helpers. This week it's firefighters. So, I am calling our local fire station to plan a tour. We did this a few years ago, but our boys were so little. It was free and the firefighters LOVED the opportunity to talk about safety and show them the firehouse. And at the end, they let the kids get into the trucks and turn on the lights. So cool!!!
  6. My boys think I'm awesome when I show them magic tricks. So I found a couple books and learned some new tricks. Many of them involve science. I do these when we need to switch gears and lighten things up a bit, like when everyone's cranky. You can also learn many easy magic tricks online as well. Some sites even have demonstrations.
  7. Check into their imaginary worlds more often. Instead of ALWAYS using this time for me to get things done or get the next lesson set up, I want to try and spend time checking in, instead of checking out. So, if they're fighting a battle against the gonk droids or the storm troopers from Star Wars, I can perform a stealth maneuver that gets us out of harms way too.
  8. Object Lessons! I love these! They're easy to find online if you google "object lessons for kids" or you can make up your own. All you have to do is gather up some items you already have and create a lesson. Here's an example. I got out a tube of toothpaste and a baking sheet. Then I asked the boys to squirt it all over the baking sheet. I said, "OK, we're going to try and get this toothpaste back into the tube. I gave them some spoons to give it their best shot. They tried all kinds of ways to get it back in. Impossible. The lesson here was that we need to be careful about the things we say to others. We need to treat them with kindness because once the words leave our mouths, they can't be put back in. They totally got it and it was very effective. HERE is a place that lists some great Christian object lessons. And we absolutely LOVE the Family Nights Tool Chest book series for creating some really amazing biblical object lessons. We have several and love every one of them.
  9. Let them create! I want to make it a habit to fill our table with craft supplies and things found around the house that they can create with. I don't do it enough. Usually our crafts are more planned and have an agenda. Let's call it No Agenda Crafting!
  10. Plan fun celebration parties. My boys LOVE a reason to celebrate. So do I. The anticipation and planning of something simple is fun. I REALLY like this Everyday Holiday Calendar for ideas to celebrate real holidays, famous birthdays, historical events and funny things like Banana Split Day!We even create mini Unit Studies around the lesser known holidays.
OK, so I'm throwing in a few more that I just can't leave off the list because these, too, are goals: 
  • I want to read more stories together that include real life heroes and leaders, full of good and moral character traits.
  • Play more games with them.
  • Use conversation starters during meal times to learn more about one another and open up their hearts. We've done this before and I was amazed at the wonderful conversations we had. I'll be pulling these out again.
I'd love to hear what educational, fun and engaging ideas you have for spurring on your kids' love for learning. Leave me a comment about what you do.  
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