Thursday, March 31, 2011


Okay so I'm making up terms here. Recently i've been on a quest to learn more about unschooling. It has always intrigued me, and confused me, and interested me. Through reading various books on the subject I've come to the conclusion I couldn't possibly be an un-schooling parent 100% of the time. Though I think there are some very wonderful things about unschooling that I could (and will) adopt as part of my educational philosophy,  there is no way I could drop everything and jump headlong into un-schooling.

The positive things I've learned about un-schooling, are that it's child led. This means so many things on so many levels. It could be that your child has a special interest in frogs, and you foster that interest the best you can through books, collecting tadpoles from a nearby pond, keeping records of the changes the tadpole goes through, etc. All the while your child is learning! I can so easily and happily apply this to my own style of teaching! My children have various interests and I love providing them with opportunities to take an interest and really get as much information until they are satisfied. Frogs don't have to be on the science list for you to do this! The best learning takes place when there are personal connections made between the learner and the content. Taking advantage of those interests is like doing half the work for twice the pay!

Learning is relaxed, not forced. Even studies show that when a student is forced to complete or "learn", the learning doesn't take place. The knowledge doesn't make an impact and therefore doesn't stay with the child. Children are allowed to learn concepts and knew knowledge at their own pace, not according to a chart or outline or "what your child should know by_____ grade". For me this means taking a seat sometimes and waiting for the concepts to sink in, the interest to flair and the facilitation door to be open. It doesn't mean I get stressed out if Jonah can't memorize his addition facts, or Ellie can't sound out the words! It means I take a deep breath, keep providing opportunities for learning without the pressure.

It's about drawing near to learning, not pushing away. There are so many kids that hate school by the time they get out of 1st grade! It's hard to make "lifelong learners" out of something that seems miserable! It doesn't mean everything has to be super exciting and fun. But learning should be a basic desire. If it's not there it's okay to take a break, not to push and tie the kid to the chair until he finishes his spelling! Maybe it does mean there is a different way to get him to learn spelling, through writing his own stories, or playing spelling games on the computer. It doesn't have to be the same worksheet/workbook every single time.

Un-schooling is about using the whole world as your classroom. This can be both easy and hard. It's about making real life connections with knowledge. Teaching Match concepts at the store, science on a hike, learning about your heart after a bike ride. It's about sharing knowledge as you take the journey! It's about making the most of every opportunity but not bogging down you children with endless lectures and speeches! It's about taking advantage of teachable moments when the conditions are right.

Un-schooling is providing resources for your child to learn through discovery and in their own way. I've seen Jonah teach himself both the add, subtract, divide and multiply with little help from me. I've seen Ellie take to reading and through providing her with the right books, games, etc. Children are natural learners if they are given the right opportunities!

What un-schooling is not:

It's not about letting your kids do nothing all day, leaving them never learn to read write or compute.

It's not about not caring what or when or how your kids learn.

It's not forcing your kids to do things they are not ready to, don't understand or have no interest in.

For my children and I, we are Hybrids, half-bloods, it what you want. I am learning along the way to step back, take it all in and listen to them. I am learning to quiet the voice that wants all the duckies to be in a row, to compare my children to others. I am learning to listen to their interests, to see them for who they are and how they learn, to help them with that.  To stop when they have had too much, to keep going when they are interested. To try new things, change things up, re-do and start over. I can't quite jump into the unschooling waters, but I can surely paddle around in my little canoe!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finding encouragement

For homeschooling families,encouragement can be hard to come by sometimes. Whether you are at the park in the middle of the day (when other kids are in "school), at the Dr.'s office or within your own family, you'll get the questions, the looks the skepticism, the friendly suggestions. Negativity and doubt are out there, all over.

Encouragement is also out there, you just have to seek it out, be open and accept it.

Encouragement is your little one not wanting you to leave even for 10 minutes to drop off those Library books, encouragement is seeing your child's creativity soar with the extra time he's given during the day. Encouragement is watching your next reader bloom and grow.

This week I found encouragement in the strangest of places. A student PA (Physician's assistant) just happen to be at the Dr.'s office when I took Ellie in for an emergency visit for Strep Throat (which turned out to be scarlet Fever!!). A simple chit chat turned into a wonderful Spirit-filled conversation about staying with homeschooling during the hard times. About staying close to God and following His lead with your family through times when others didn't agree and didn't understand.

It came with meeting a new family who also homeschools and listening to their intelligent, kind, creative children who have never stepped foot in a school. Their success and conviction to train up their own children was inspiring even in the little conversations we managed to have while counting heads at the beach.

I found encouragement in an article that literally brought me to tears in the Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, reminding me why this journey is the one that I am on.

Through prayer and mediation this week, God is reminding me this is a journey. Not a race. That this should be adventurous and fun and exciting. Not stressful and hard! I want to live this journey everyday, I want to fight to find the peace in chaotic moments and struggles, I want to rest on the Lord and let Him lead us. He places the right encouragement for the right days, exactly when I need it. Sometimes you have to find it, recognize it and not ignore it. Soak it up like the sun's rays, store it away for the needed time.....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Momentum

 Let's link up! I'm starting a blog hop! I don't know about you but I need some extra motivation for the week sometimes. I'm hoping that posting goals and ideas will help with that and just maybe you need that too? One important thing I've found about the homeschool community is just how encouraging and uplifting we can be to each other!

This week I am really looking forward to.......

I could really use some prayer this week for......

I'm not looking forward to......

We've got this fun trip/activity this week.......

A special quote or Bible verse that I want to focus on this week is.........

I need to accomplish this around the house this week......

HELP! I need a link or an idea, do you have one to share about ________?

Grab the code below and link up! Don't forget to place the button on your side bar and encourage others to link up too! And give some linky love to those around you!

Monday Momentum

Link up below!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal - 6

In my life this week...
We are adjusting to having a total of 12 people living in this house! Half of those kids under the age of 6! As you can imagine dinner time is caaaaaraaaaazzzzzzy. But fun at the same time. All in all it's working pretty well. Ellie and Bella are as close as white on rice, even sleeping together! They think they are sisters, well close enough!

In our homeschool this week...
We added Bella to our routine and honestly it's gone pretty darn well. There are usual bumps and knicks with starting back up after a break. The kids work pretty well together, there are a few crazy moments when all 3 need my help, Gracie is causing her usual mischief and Liora needs to be put down for a nap. But I couldn't ask for a smoother transition, really.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
This morning I made an emergency visit to the Doctor with Elliett. She has had a sore throat for 2 days and today woke up with a mysterious rash all over! Turns out they think she has strep. The best part of all this (I'm ignoring the nagging thoughts that she is going to spread these germs to the rest of the 5 kiddos right now and focusing on the positive.....) I found some incredible encouragement right in the Doctor's office. A student PA came in to look over Ellie first, after a diagnosis we were making small talk. Turns out she is a Christian and she homeschools! We had lots in common and she was so encouraging in the midst of hearing from others how much I should consider sending the kids to the school up the road!
I also made a trip to Goodwill and found some awesome finds while the kid were at MBTA learning about planting seeds. I mean where else can you get BRAND NEW Children's Place shorts for $1, Nike cleats for $1.50, Baby vans for $.99 and a Papasan chair in excellent condition for $16! Needless to say we'll be going back. I didn't even hit up the books section!

My favorite thing this week was...
I'd have to say snagging a Papasan Chair in excellent condition for near nothing!

What's working/not working for us...
What's really working for us is the new Pocket chart I put up in place of the workboxes! I stayed up a few nights and planned out 4 weeks of the kids basic school work (Reading and Math). That has also been wonderful. I can't believe how much easier each morning (or evening) is to take the needed activities/worksheets and slide them in the pocket! My goal is to plan the next week out each time I complete a week so I don't have all four weeks all at once!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
Looking towards summer, I wondering exactly when to stop our official year, or if we should kind of go year round. Most of the curriculum (the Non consumable parts) will have to be returned sometime in June to MBTA (Myron B. Thompson Academy) since they pay for it. But we always get to keep the workbooks and I can make copies of anything I'll need. My husband has about 6 weeks off in the summer, so I'm not sure if I want to take all that time off (although the learning doesn't actually stop!) or perhaps make all sorts of learning resources available. I have some Science and History things stashed away, maybe letting them unschool for a while. Adding in more outings and field trips, etc.

What do you do? What works for your summer schedule?
A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
I made these with the kids last week! They were delicious!  

Found some AweSomE bento lunch ideas this week in Island Family Magazine
Visit the link for more ideas! I'm starting to collect a few things to make some fun Bentos for the kids, I've got a few Spring and Pirate ideas brewing!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Telling God's Story

Recently I was sent the new curriculum by Olive Branch Books, Telling God's Story By Peter Enns to review! After reading through the Parent's Manual, I was encouraged and excited to get started! I have used and reviewed so many Bible curricula, and after a while they begin to sound and look a lot alike. This one stood out above the rest for several reasons.

Right away, I loved that this curriculum started with the New Testament, my kids have already heard many of the stories told from the Old Testament but we've never really covered the most important part of the Bible!

As the parents manual says,

"In this introductory volume to studying the Bible, I propose focusing on what the Bible as a whole is about, rather than zeroing in on individual Bible stories or snippets of moral teaching taken out of context. This approach introduces young students to the big picture, encouraging them to understand the entire biblical story—as, I believe, it is intended to be understood."

That is so true! So many times we only teach stories of the Bible, but not the Bible as a whole. And so many times I've started in Genesis (which can be a great place to start, just not STAY!) The Bible seems fragmented and difficult to understand. This is the first time personally, I was able to teach the kids about the Parables of Jesus!

"The New Testament is the climax of a grand story, one that begins in the Old Testament, and it echoes back to the Old Testament many, many times."

What I really loved:
  • All the hands on activities! Children learn and work best when they have something concrete to hold onto as we learn! The activities are well planned, creative, and (possibly best of all) easy to get together and do!
  • The infusion of science, cooking, art, reading, etc in each lesson! This helps integrate the Bible and lessons through every area of life naturally with ease.
  • The list of materials and supplies in the beginning give you a first look at what you'll need for all the crafts
  • It can be used in a church or class setting as well. I tried it out and used the daily activities as different activities to do in one class. It worked fabulously and the kids loved it!
  • The Parent's manual was encouraging as well as down to earth! It was a a great way to start preparing your heart for teaching and instructing and learning along with your children!
  • The language and vocabulary were perfectly written for 4-7 years, and it sounded current! I've read through so many Bible curricula which sounded about as old as the Bible in examples and lessons!

I think the addition of some review questions for each lesson would be nice, but not necessary. If you've used Story of the World, you know how to ask the questions and get some conversation going about what they are learning! Also adding some Scripture Memorization would have been nice, but it is certainly easy to add if that is something you are interested in doing with your kids! They do learn the books of the Bible and that is Memory work.

We've been using the lessons for a few weeks now, and I can honestly say, I love this curriculum. I love it so much I've stopped using our other Bible curriculum and started using this full time. The kids are excited and more importantly they have brought up what we learn throughout the week, not just once a day. Each day I am just as excited about getting into the lesson as the kids. No more sitting, listening, worksheets. It's always new and exciting, and relevant.

~The first lesson we Read the Bible passage and the short lesson explanation, and color the coloring sheet. It's always worked out to have the kids coloring when I read, some how the kinesthetic coloring, the visual picture and the listening all come together and they remember the passage remarkably well! I'll often post the colored sheets or show them the visual a few more days throughout the week, to help remind them what we are learning about.

~The next days (3-4) we will do a different activity. Before we start I ask some questions and get them talking about what we are learning. Then we do the activity! Sometimes I re-read the Bible Passage.

A melted crayon activity to remind us to keep praying!

Feel free to email me or comment and ask me anything about the curriculum! And please visit the links above for even more encouraging information about Telling God's Story! Keep checking back for a post on one of the coolest projects, making a Roman Helmet out of a milk jug.......

    Friday, March 25, 2011


    So I've transitioned into workpockets instead of work boxes. Adding Bella meant that we would need an entire drawer system for her as well.....and well.....I was running out of room! So I looked around and found this::

    It's a 3 row, 27 pocket holder thinger ma bob. Yup, official name. With three kiddos school work to organize it works out well! There were other ones that hold file folders (this one only holds the size of paper) but it was wider and wouldn't fit on the wall!

    I really love the Sue Patrick's Workbox Idea. And I know how very popular it is, for a reason! I think it's amazing how many ways I've seen it morphed and changed to meet individual needs of each family! I know with all the things going on around here, filling the pockets and being ready for the day is very important for making the homeschool hustle less stressful!

    My sister helped me make Princess numbers that fit nicely into the clear name plates! And as you can see they are roomy enough to fit workbooks and notebooks!

    I moved all our bigger hands-on manipulatives and activities into one drawer tower, (well, one drawer in the school area)

    And I even added......a bulletin board and a coconut tree, all circle/calender areas need a coconut tree right? Thought so! I added a few things to circle time and am loving it!

    So with Spring cleaning came a little reorganizing....which took a few days to complete, but it felt so good to have it done! We'll see how long the tidy-ness lasts......

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Monday Momentum

    If you are like me Mondays can be a little rough after a long weekend especially. So here is a Blog Hop dedicated to getting us motivated for the week ahead! Maybe posting our goals will get us going in the right direction! Setting small goals and being encouraged to fulfill those sometimes is the push we need to keep that momentum going! Answer these questions and link up! I'm working on a button to include on your site, it's coming soon! (maybe I should add that to the list of what I want to get done this week!

    What are your looking forward to in your homeschool this week?
    We are adding Bella to your Homeschool routine! I've added new workbox pockets, and done a little scheduling to get everyone on the same page! I'm looking forward to trying out the new organizing system I've worked out. I'm planning 4 weeks out with a file system. Crossing fingers and hoping it makes the planning a little easier!

    What are you needing prayer for as we start out this week?
    Getting back into the routine after Spring Break, adjusting to life with 12 people living in the house!

    Is there something you aren't looking forward to (dreading??)
    Dave went back to work this week, it's so nice to have him around and spend those extra minutes with him! 12 hour days are hard!

    Fun trips or activities you have planned for the week?
    Jonah has his very first soccer practice this week! Bella and Ellie are attending their very first MBTA class together, and Awana! Though we have played soccer for the past two years, we never had an actual team practice! A lot of firsts this week! 

    Special quote or Bible verse that will keep you focused this week.
    "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"

    Any special Household tasks or goals you want to meet his week?
    I desperately need to catch up on Laundry and get the menu planning back in order. It's the little things running well that make the rest of the housekeeping do-able!

    HELP! I need a link or an idea, do you have one to share about ________?
    This week I am still planning activities about the body. Bones, muscles, cells, the heart and lungs are all on the planning list for our units! Any suggestions???

    Grab the Code and get linking! I'll open the link every Saturday, don't forget to visit other sites and encourage each other! 

    Monday Momentum

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

    If you've homeschooled for even one year.....I guarantee you have a curriculum, a book, a resource laying around untouched and dusty. Well, after a few years, I've built up a few things. In hopes of blessing another family with something they can use, I Spring Cleaning! Which means YOU can win something! It's easy! Just follow the rules below and enter to win something fabulous!

    What can you win?

    Preschool Science

    1st Grade
    1st Grade

    5th Grade

    Yup, each one of these babies is up for grabs! All you have to do is follow the guidelines below, and leave a comment for each point you enter!

    • Subscribe either as a follower or RSS feed to my blog ~ 1 entry
    • "Like" my Facebook page ~ 1 entry
    • Post a status update and link back to my blog (leave a link to your status in my comment section) ~ 1 entry
    • Post this Giveaway on your blog and link back to my (leave another link in the comment section) ~ 1 entry
    • Leave a comment telling me which one you'd MOST like to win, and a second choice. I'll try my BEST to make sure you are blessed with what you would use! ~ 1 entry
    Don't forget to head over to curriculum choice and check out all the other great giveaways! And leave a comment to thank her for the awesome idea!

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Homeschool Mother's Journal - 5

    In my life this week...
    We have been on SPRING BREAK!  It has been marvelous. Waking up knowing I don't have to rush to get anything prepared, I can take my time, enjoy watching the kids play, create messes and {yes} chaos! It also means my husband has been on Spring Break (he is a public school Science Teacher) so he has helped with the kids, taken the hiking, let go to Doctors appointments without the kids! It's been truly the breath of air we've needed.

    In our homeschool this week...
    I've spent little snippets of the days re-organizing school areas, supplies, re-arranging the school room (I'm thinking about re-naming it our Learning Lab~heading away from the institutionalized idea of "school"). I got to visit the education store (I try to avoid this place for fear of going into debt!), got a bulletin board!!! Next on the list is planning!

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...
    Oh my. We've done tons this week! We visited the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens and learned about Butterflies, had a picnic, fed the fish and ducks. The kids went to Manoa Falls with Daddy on a hike, came back all muddy and tired! Today we visited the Bishop Museum and had a blast exploring and learning about Dinosaurs and Volcanoes! We even purchased a year pass for friends and family which means we can go back all we want for a year AND bring in 2 guests for free each time! I can't wait to go back! We didn't even make it to the Hawaiian History sections and the Planetarium!

    My favorite thing this week was...
    Being able to breathe. I mean deep, peaceful breaths. And just pick up and go! I love being with the kids exploring new things! And getting my Homeschool Enrichment Magazine in the mail. It is ALWAYS a refreshing source of encouragement to me!

    What's working/not working for us...
    This break is working so well, I'm considering extending it! Well, we'll see. We are adjusting to having 4 more people in the house, and getting everything in order for adding Bella to the schedule. Her and Ellie are using the same curriculum so I'm hoping the transition won't be so rough. But any homeschooler knows change can be a little difficult!

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
    Has anyone ever homeschooled someone else's child? I'm a little nervous about it, though my years of teaching in a public school will help. Any tips?

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share... 
    A qoute from an Article in the March/April 2011 Homeschool Enrichment Magazine "Why Would You Want to Do That?" By Lea Ann Garfias
    "I am after a greater goal: character, not acclaim; wisdom and understanding, not mere knowledge; work ethic, not riches; service, not popularity; godliness, not grades. That's not to say some of those other things aren't important-they're just not the focus. Different results call for different means. This is a sowing and reaping principle......I have a different goal, a different vision, and a different calling. I must be different. My life should be lived in a radically different way. My children, if I want them to be completely different from the culture in which they live, must be trained in a completely different way.......

    Teaching my own children is a calling. I am called of God to be the mother of my children (I Timothy2:15). Keeping my home, including training my children and managin our families resources, is a responsibility on whichour testimony hangs (I Titus 2:3-5). This is not a task to be taken lightly.
    My very God has given it to me."

    I needed these very words right now. As I look to the future, even to next year, and give to God our plans as a family and as His followers. What is right for us, may look so strange to others, but it's a calling. A very difficult one to pursue, to continue in. And sometimes, you need a little encouragement!

    The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Spring {Break} Fever

    Are you looking forward to Spring Break as much as I am? Starting this weekend we are taking 11 glorious days off to refresh, catch up, slow down, revamp, rearrange and enjoy! Here are a few of my goals. I doubt I'll get them all accomplished but there is no harm in aiming high!

    • Getting Bella integrated into our school
    • Revamping Circle time
    • rearranging the school area
    • adding a bulletin board
    • adding our Alpha tree
    • creating Character printables, copywork, circle time bible verses, etc.
    • getting to know TJ so I can take on caring for 6 babies (yes that is also a prayer request)
    • planning for the next month of school 
    I've started on a few of these goals, and it feels good! I've needed this break for a while. Life around here has been exhausting since we added Liora last Mother's Day and started a move to a new house and a new life. This spring break is exactly what I've needed. A little time to rethink, reorganize and RELAX! Knowing I can wake up each morning and NOT have to go full steam ahead has been such a blessing!

    I'm also getting some posts ready for the next few weeks! I'm excited to start sharing some reviews on great products and curriculum. To host a giveaway for something I LOVE, start a blog hop, and make a special announcement for an upcoming Cyber event! I'm excited about spring!

    I hope you are all enjoying a break, or planning one soon! We all need a little one now and then!

      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      A Rainbow of colorful Ideas for St. Patricks Day!

      I love Holidays, I love planning school around Holidays! SO here are a few fun links I've found to help your school week planning!

      I HAVE to make these Rainbow Cupcakes this week.....

      A very cute idea for a Golden Treat.....if you don't have a pot to paint you could also use a black paper cup!

      A Lucky Hat comes complete with a rainbow!

      An adorable Door hanger waiting some gold!

      A little Shamrock Shaker!

      Rainbow Pudding too? Yup why not!

      And don't forget to add a little learning fun! St. Patricks Day Overload!

      Saturday, March 12, 2011

      Spring Cleaning {Blog Hop}

      Just a friendly reminder that Homeschool Hoop-La will be taking part in the Spring Curriculum Giveaway! I've been going through all of my unused curriculum hoping to bless a lucky reader with a curriculum they can use!

      If you would like to join in the Blog-Hop giveaway follow read up on the information below and follow the links!

      When: March 19-22
      Where: This blog hop is hosted by The Curriculum Choice, but since it is a blog hop, this means that multiple blogs can participate.
      What: We are hosting a homeschool give-away blog hop.  Each person that participates will be giving away one or a few items from their homeschool shelves that they are not using anymore.
      Who: Anyone is invited that wants to give away items or win items.

      Follow the link on the button below and read up on how to  participate!

      To enter to win something from my blog make sure you visit between March 19-22 and follow the directions to enter. On March 22, 2011 multiple winners will be chosen to win something! Yup, that's right, multiple winners! I've got a bit of cleaning to do! So mark your calendars and get ready for the clean out!

      Friday, March 11, 2011

      Homeschool Mother's Journal - 4

      In my life this week...
      My sister, her husband her Daughter Bella (4) and newborn TJ (10 weeks) moved back from North Carolina! They'll be with us for a few months as they settle in to Hawaii, new jobs and finding a house! I'll be taking on Homeschooling Bella (get ready for some posts!), and watching TJ at least part time!

      In our homeschool this week...
      I ordered something very exciting to help add workboxes for Bella. My tight space under the stairs won't accomidate another plastic drawer system so I ordered this:

      It's got 27 pockets perfect for 3 kids! And I'll be using the the bins for our maipulatives...a little rearranging that I am excited about!
      We took Thursday and Friday off of school after the McKenna's arrived. There was NO way I was going to get the kids to focus on anything! Next week is spring break!

      Places we're going and people we're seeing...
      This week at Awana the theme was a drive in Movie. The kids had to make a cardboard car and then sit in them while they enjoyed popcorn and a movie! How adorable!

      My favorite thing this week was...
      Holding 10 week old little TJ.....he is so adorable!

      What's working/not working for us...
      The workboxes are gonna be the big change for us this week. I tried out Spelling City with Jonah and he LOVED it! How great that I can type in all his spelling words and he can play games, learn some new words AND he's having a good time too!

      Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
      I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for Homeschooling someone who isn't "your" child.  I was a former Public school teacher so I have some idea. I welcome any thoughts or ideas!!!

      A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
      Three sisters learning their letters on Starfall! Can you start too early? Liora doesn't think so!

      The Homeschool Mother's Journal

      Thursday, March 10, 2011

      Arctic Unit

      We recently did a mini Unit on Arctic/Antarctic Regions~ learning about the animals and the Inuit People who live in these regions! I'll include some fun links and activities I found for this unit.

      My goal for organizing these units is to keep the learning hands on and interactive. My kids love coloring and crafts, they love videos and games. They even love some worksheets. You can really personalize each Unit folder based on your child's level. Even Gracie gets her own folder with activities for her to color and cut and play!

      Videos:: (my kids love the addition of videos in our learning)
      Nat Geo has great links, photos and activities. This one was short and great for some basic info:

      Answers in Genesis has one of the Ice Age which talks a little about how the Ice got there (from a creationist view point: 

      What to know How to Build an Igloo??? This 10 minute video shows you.....seriously I never knew.....

      Fun Links:: (photos, games, slide shows)

      Critter Cam Arctic Game 

      Explore this Website for Great info on the Tundra and other regions!

      Photo Slide show with info about How Arctic Animals Camouflage themselves!

      FREE Powerpoint presentations on the Inuit Tribes plus this site has all sorts of activities and links! 

      Hands On Activities:: (this makes every lesson more fun!)

      Drying our walls halfway through

      • Make your own Inuksuk
      • Polar Bear Painting: Blue Construction paper, Bear shape, cotton balls, white paint. Place the Polar Bear cut out on the Blue Construction paper (tape the back to the paper) and dab the entire blue paper with white paint. Remove the Polar Bear cutout when you are done and ta-da! Snowy Polar Bear!

      Resources and Activities::

      A variety of books for the kids to look through and enjoy

      FREE Lesson Plans! Look around this site and download all sorts of free activities and games!

      Kidssoup This is a really great resource and SO affordable at $2.15 a month. I use it all the time! There are Activities, Games (printable file folder), Activites AND Resources for Bulletin Boards, felt stories etc. New units are added every month!

      SeaWorld FREE downloadable lesson

      ABCteach tons of freebies, you can become a member, but I just use what is free!

      Worksheets included in their Unit Folders:
      • Sonlight curriculum
      • Map of the Arctic Tundra (color and lable)
      • Color the Igloo
      • “My Book about the Inuit People”
      • Polar Bear Crossword puzzle (Jonah)
      • AA writing practice (Ellie)
      • AA Coloring page
      • Arctic Report, KWL Chart (Jonah)

        Wednesday, March 9, 2011

        A {LIFE} of Learning

        Something I am discovering {and pondering } is the difference between school and learning. Education comes in many packages, homeschooling, unschooling, public schooling, private schooling, online schooling, charter schooling.....and then there are styles from Montessori, Waldorf, classical, traditional, progressive, eclectic....oh my I could go on.

        The point is, there is learning involved. And creating a life of learning outside of what we call school, takes effort and intention. It requires an awareness to life and the world around us, how it interacts with all of the subject areas. It takes someone willing to incorporate learning into every possible moment, not just when the timer goes of and we "do school".

        That isn't easy! It takes a creative and open mind to find ways to help our children explore and engage with the world. It takes extra energy and flexibility at times. But as you open yourself to learning during life and not just "school", finding opportunities to grow and expand are everywhere. Here are some examples I've found just in the last few days.....

        J: "Mom what Time is it?"
        Me: "It's 3:35"
        It's great that you've asnwered your child's question, but can we make this a learning opportunity?? YOU BET!

        Me: "What do you think kiddo, is it AM or PM?"
        J: "I don't know."
        Me: "AM in time is used when it's still morning, PM is used after lunch and into night time. Is it still morning or afternoon?"
        J: "Well we ate lunch already's PM!"

        Even Better:
        You can go on to do a variety of things, if your child is still interested. Pushing learning past the point of interest doesn't actually get the results you want. But if your child is still engaged you can do a variety of different things. Ask them to find a digital and an analog clock around the house. Inquire about each of these. As about the numbers before the dots and after. What the hands of the clock mean. Count the numbers, count by fives. Your goal here is not to give a full lesson on telling time, but to connect something you have taught with real life. 

        I find my kids are very open in these times to gathering new information in a very relaxed way. And these opportunities are everywhere. 

        Recently Ellie and I took a trip to the Outdoor Garden center at our Walmart. We could have looked through the pretty flowers and went on our way. But instead we took time to look at different plants, we studied the flowering Eggplant plants and talked about how each flower would grow into an Eggplant. We looked at carnivorous Pitcher plants (yes they had some by the way!) and talked about how they ate bugs! And why! We looked at different seeds, talked about what they needed to grow. Read the backs of plant tags and talked about which plants needed a lot of sunlight and which needed less and why.

        Yes, this took some time. And yes, my little girl is a talker so we could go on and on about plants. But we had a full lesson on horticulture right here in Walmart with no worksheets,fancy websites or crafts (all of which I love by the way) I simply took an opportunity to be with her, and talk and explore. And if we find questions I can't answer, we can extend learning to websites and book when we get home! We bought some seeds she picked out and took 5 minutes to plant them so we could watch them grow! There are so many ways you can continue to expand that one opportunity into a whole host of learning! Create a plant journal with drawings, observations, writing, measuring and science all rolled into one.

        My point is, learning doesn't have to be during the hours of 9am to 12pm, it doesn't have to revolve around textbooks and workbooks and worksheets. It can grow out of the simplest times in life and really make an impact on your child! If you are willing to look for those opportunities and grab hold of them!

        Tuesday, March 8, 2011

        Grades in Homeschool

        I have been reading a lot on the impact of grades in the book The Schools our Children Deserve by Alfie Kohn, which of course has me thinking about how that plays out in a Homeschooling setting. So.....

        1. Do you grade your Homeschoolers?
        2. If so what age(s) are they?
        3. Are you required to do so by law, or for your own records?
        4. Do you share the grades with your children?
        According to Kohn and research he has done, grades actually make a negative impact on learning and motivation. Instead of grades being a positive motivating factor, students concerned with how something will be scored are less concerned with what they are learning.

        Research in 2 groups of students found that the group that was told they would be graded on the project actually did worse when tested, than the group that was told they needed to complete the assignment, but that it wasn't going to be graded. Interesting!

        As an ex-public school teacher I can totally relate to this! There wasn't a lecture/presentation/project that I didn't at least one student ask, "Will this be on the test?"

        And do I blame them? NO WAY? If the goal it to have a high grade point average, than finding out the requirements for getting that glorious "A" (even down to the questions on a test) would be important to know! That would make some information more important than others purely for a grade, not necessarily for the sake of learning.

        I've been trying to process this as both a teacher, a Homeschooler and a learner myself. In school I taught Art, a very subjective subject (if you will). Though I tried very hard to make effort and not talent the basis for my grading, it was still very difficult!

        Now that I am free of those responsibilities I have enjoyed not grading my own kids. We learn and practice learning. If there are mistakes, they are discussed and explained right on the spot, but there is no BIG RED X's and words scribbled on the top of the page. (honestly I've got no time for that folks!)  And it's refreshing. My children don't have the experience of someone telling them they didn't perform something "100% perfectly". They are able to practice mastery at a comfortable level, and re-practice when there is room for that.

        DO traditional grades have a place in a Homeschool setting? Do you think grades have a positive effect on learning and students?

        Monday, March 7, 2011

        Incentives for littles

        One of the difficult things for me about Homeschooling is finding a balance between being a parent and a teacher. I know my kids fool around, get distracted by shiny objects and run off in different directions a lot more than they would in a classroom setting at a traditional school. That's not altogether bad. But it can make it hard to accomplish what we need to on a daily basis!

        So I came up with the idea of a School Store to help keep the kids motivated and on task. Most of these items were stocked by Grandma, she sends boxes full of items from Micheal's, Joann's and Target's $1 section (and other places). The goodies are things like craft kits, coloring books, get the idea. I haven't added toys or candy. I really love that the incentives are creative items!
        I keep everything in a box (waaaaayyyy out of kids reach). After a week (or so) we count up the stickers the kids received.  (More on how they earn stickers at the end of the post) And they get to choose items based on the points they have!

         This is a long process as they ponder, dig, count up points, make final decisions........

         I use colorful dots to make items worth certain point values. So coming up with interesting combos is fun (and mathematical!)

        It's a pretty exciting end to any week! The kids look forward to it. Sometimes they practice patience and add up point from the last week if there is something they really want.
        I'm sure you are wondering what it is I actually "reward" the kids for. Let me start by saying, school was frustrating for me at times. Many days I was dealing with whining, complaining, lost pencils, daydreaming, wasting time, fighting over crayons and scissors, etc.  I needed to come up with a way to keep the kids motivated, accomplish our goals each day and reinforce Godly character and principles. The kids don't earn points for speeding through Math, or getting 100% on their spelling. It's all earned through exhibiting character traits that are Godly. For us (for now) it's obedience, attitude, hardwork (diligence), orderliness and kindness. Within these character traits we can apply them to learning and treating each other with honor. Watching our attitudes and behavior as well.

        In the past I've also used things like field trips, special trips to the ice cream shop, movies, trips to the park to help motivate the kids. Although these things are all part of our regular education as well, I would hate to only offer these as rewards. But you can be creative and add your own ideas in there!

        Here is a simple free printable of our Daily Character Goals . There are scripture references for each character trait to help us why we want to practice these not only in school but in our daily lives!

        Do you use incentives and rewards in your school setting? Share your ideas!!

        Win something!

        Head on over to the Crafty Classroom and enter to win this curriculum! I did!

        Teach My Joy!

        Friday, March 4, 2011

        Weekly wrap up!

        Phew what a week! Where do I even begin?

        Honestly this week was nothing to brag about. I've had weeks where the units flowed and we threw Chinese parties and fun experiments. But this week was survival week. Just trying to plug along and get through the necessities just about had me beat.

        It was exciting to get over the middle hump of our school year. Getting a late start means the middle and ending are a little off, but how wonderful that we see the end in sight now. We are starting some exciting things here in the math concepts for both Jonah and Ellie (I can't believe she is adding now!!!!) and Ellie starting to actually read's always very exciting to hear them start to read on their own.

        Today was the best day of the week. I know, it's Friday right?? Well tomorrow we'll be doing a little impromptu learning because of taking Wed off to help a friends with her 3 kids. (yes that was an eye opener!)
        Today though we found a new park in the area, met a Mom who I knew was looking at my kids with wonder since the 2 she had with her were 2 years old. She was eying up the height of Jonah and thinking to herself that kids has got to be of school age! Turns our she has been thinking about homeschooling, so I shared my information about the school the kids are enrolled in and the church. Maybe I'll see her again! (oh wait I ran into her again at the Library!)

        We had lunch at McD's and then headed to the Library. That went surprisingly well with 4 kids in tow. We read some History, colored and ran wild through the wait. Wrong memory. We did go up and down the isles looking for new and exciting books.....

        Linked to Weekly Wrap UP

        So, to end this ordinary week.....I look forward to the next week.....with bright eyes and high hopes!

        Homeschool Mother's Journal - 3

        In my life this week...
        I practiced having 6 and 7 kids by watching a few extras. It was both easy and hard (is that even possible?). Those days I decided school was pretty near impossible except for a few things here and there. Of course that means my floors are dirty and my laundry pile is enormous.
        In our homeschool this week...
        We made it to our halfway point! We started late because of moving in August, but we are  working at a pretty good pace consistently! We are going to have to use Saturday as a school day (just this week) since Daddy has a Men's Breakfast early in the morning!
        Places we're going and people we're seeing...
        Monday we took the kids night swimming at a new rec center in the area (I know, but we do live in Hawaii!) and also found a GREAT new park in the rec center! We made it to church a lot this week! (Dr. Fruchtenbaum was talking at our church). Last night we were treated to a night out by one of the Church members.
        My favorite thing this week was...
        Making Dr. Seuss hats with all the kids this week. It was quick and easy. Then we read Dr. Seuss books for circle time and even the 2 and 3 year old loved it! We even made some Oobleck!Thank you Dr. Seuss for your gift!
        What's working/not working for us...
        Me trying to plan the week on Sunday nights is SO not working! I'm tired by the time we get home from church, sometimes I get through the planning sometimes I don't all the way. I need to find another time to do it! (maybe Thursdays since Fridays are our Science/History/Art days)
        Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
        How do some plan 6 weeks in advance and stay on target!? It seems my plans chance week to week! Sometimes we don't make it all the way through the weeks worth of stuff and it transfers over! I wonder if planning for 6 weeks at a time would help or hurt?
        And how do I get my 6 year old to love spelling !? He reads at a 4th grade level but can't spell the words he reads! He hates Explode the code!
        A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

        All my cats

        We had a few extras this day! Sean and Noah loved making their hats (Jonah didn't want to make one) The two toddlers look like some members of a secret Seuss religious group...

        The Homeschool Mother's Journal

        Thursday, March 3, 2011

        Fending off Burnout

        [Burnout] ~ the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest This could be physical, emotional or mentally.

        It seems I've been here more often than I'd like to admit. Both as a public school teacher as well as a Homeschooling parent. Teaching in any location is difficult, it is tiring. However being a homeschool parent means you are taking on a full-time job (at home), the responsibility of educating your children! Where it normally takes a team of people to accomplish this from researching curriculum to planning field trips to teaching, you are doing it all yourself. No wonder burn out seems almost inevitable at one point or another. Maybe a few of these suggestions will help fend off that season in the year.....

        1. Lay it all out ~ to your heavenly Father. Cry it out to Him, what you are struggling with. I Peter says to "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you!" He does! He led you to this place of Homeschooling and when you are weak and weary and don't quite know how to keep going, we will comfort you and care for you. And ask others for prayer as well, whether it's your spouse, a woman's group, your Mom, reach out!

        2. Take it all in ~ Sometimes identifying an actual problem might be the solution to burn there a curriculum or schedule that just.isn't.working.? It may be something just needs to be changed to make things run smoother or click. Sometimes it may seem hard to switch in the middle or even end of the year, but it's not the schedule that is important, it's your children!

        3. Call for Back up ~ everyone needs reprieve. Maybe you know another Homeschooling mom (or many!) who will take your kids for a day. Send some things for them to work on! Or a Mom who will let your kids come play for an afternoon. A good chunk of truly quiet time to either catch up, pray, sleep, read, sew.....whatever! is maybe what you need! There will be a time that someone calls on you and you can repay the favor!

        4. Call it Quits ~ that's right, just quit already! For a few days or maybe a week! (if you feel really guilty take notes on everything your child does for that week and label it your unschooling experiment!) That is one of the perks of choosing your own schedule and time line, it can fit your life. When you have hit a rough spot trying to barrel through and keep teaching for the sake of teaching isn't going to accomplish what you really want with your children.If your have fallen behind in your housekeeping or other duties, take a few days or week just to catch up. Give yourself permission to get things in order!

        5. Go on an edu-vacation ~ Plan a whole week (or a few days) to get you out of the house and do fun (and perhaps educational) activities with your kids. We live on a small Island but I can fill up a whole week of fields trips.....and most for FREE if I wanted or needed to. A trip to the Library, Fire Station, Post Office....exciting and FREE! Visit some Botanical Gardens, Go play at the Park, read books under a tree, go swimming......the list is endless and life is educational.

        6. Get in check ~ Make sure there isn't something medically wrong. Exhaustion, sadness, lethargy, lack of motivation can all be symptoms of medical issues! Everyone deals with these from time to time, but if you notice any one symptom is hanging around and really starting to interfere with life, it may be time to get a check up and seek help.

        Don't give up though, whatever you do. Make a choice for your children and sanity sake to do something about the slump. Trying to push through a difficult season in life only makes the stress and burnout worse. Give yourself permission NOT to feel guilty about asking for prayer, help or taking time to just catch up with life. You'll thank yourself later!

        Wednesday, March 2, 2011

        National Reader's Day

        Did you know TODAY {March 2} is National Readers Day?? 

        How fun! Maybe today is the day to take your little one on a trip to the Library and get her very own Library card! Or throw a Library themed Party and print these out:
        Photo Credit: familyfun Magazine 

        Throw together a little party with these invitations

        Photo Credit: FamilyFun Magazine

        Well whatever you do, make sure you snuggle up and read a few extra books with your littles today!

        Tuesday, March 1, 2011

        Unschooling {un}defined

        Still here reading, pondering, searching......

        and I came across this link to many many great articles on unschooling. SO here you go. Just bookmark it so you can come back to it.  There is so much goodness you won't get to it all in one sitting!

        I'm taking the kids to their class today on Dr. Suess Science....should be fun! It's only an hour long today so I don't even know what I'll have time to do with the other 2 kiddos! Ususally we stroll around Ala Moana and get a snack or have storytime in Boarders.....we'll have to find an adventure somewhere tomorrow!

        My favorite definition of {unschooling} up until this point is this

        A peace, a harmony and a love of learning that does not get squelched over time.

         That is what I want for my kids. I want a life and a love of learning. Not just schooling and rote memorization of facts with no connection to them or their lives. I want learning to be their lives.....and I want to be a part of that.