Summer Countdown Review

Summer Countdown

Golden Prairies Press means history at it’s finest.  There’s always cooking, crafting, quizzes, and plenty of games to play.  More importantly, there’s an emphasis on storytelling.  My children love to learn through stories, and we’ve enjoyed both the Heroes and Heroines of the Past and Countdown to Thanksgiving curricula.  So, when we received the opportunity to review, Amy Puetz’s newest release, Countdown to Summer, I knew that we were going to want to experience it too!

Countdown to Summer contains countdowns to five holidays that occur during the summer.  These are:

  • Mother’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Flag Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day

There are three days devoted to each of the first four holidays.  However, Independence Day has a full two week countdown of activities.  In these special countdowns, each day contains a charming story from the late 1800s or early 1900s.  Then, there’s an activity that can be done as a family.  Sometimes it’s making pop-up cardstock stars, sometimes it’s singing a song, and sometimes it’s decorating cards.  No matter what the activity is, in most cases you can be through in an hour.

Since we school year-round, we’ll simply be adding this to our school schedule as special history time for these holidays, but even if you’re not doing school, these stories and activities have a timeless appeal that will make the holidays special for you and your children.  My eight and ten year old really love the stories and activities, and even though my preschoolers often can’t sit for the stories, they absorb a lot from what they do hear and they enthusiastically join in the activities with their older siblings.

The stories and activities are easy to add-in, and can quickly become a holiday tradition that you and your children look forward too.  These stories and activities are exactly the good Christian influences you want your children to be exposed to, and they will build family memories and traditions that you and children both can look forward to each year!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My opinions are my own.

How We Use Pinterest in Our Homeschool

How we use Pinterest in Our Homeschool

Pinterest is an amazing tool, and often, a place where you can think you’re going for “just a second” to find an hour or more passing before you even know it.  Because I’m a crafty person, and I have children who like to do crafts, it’s an even more tempting place for us to just park for hours.

So, I have to have a strategy for how I use it in my homeschool.  If you want to use it effectively, you need to have a strategy too!  Here are three ways that we use Pinterest to enhance our homeschool.

1.  We Have Boards For All the Holidays We Celebrate.

We have boards for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.  We have boards for smaller holidays like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.  Because we’ve decided that we’re going to learn about Jewish holidays this year by celebrating them, I even have a board for Feast of Trumpets (and will be making other boards soon.).

Each time I get on Pinterest or visit a blog and see a craft or activity that fits one of my holiday boards, I pin it for later.  We usually do family crafting/Pinterest time about once a week where we choose activities that are either holiday themed or related to one of the children’s interest areas and create something.  It’s even on my schedule so that I won’t forget to spend this time with the children.  It adds happiness to our home.

2.  Each Child Keeps Their Own Interest Boards

Each child has their own interests that they want to create crafts, save coloring sheets and even pin cartoons/illustrations for later inspiration.

For example, Firecracker has boards for Pokemon, Mario, Minecraft and Pikmin.  I also have children with Star Wars boards, cats boards, and superhero boards.  Each one has a space for their own interest, and when they have free time, they’re allowed to go to their Pinterest board and pick projects or just look for inspiration.  This has allowed a bunch of crafting and fun to happen all around the clock.

3.  I Create Boards Based On Our Studies

Anytime we find something that we want to study, I tend to create boards of ideas based on those ideas.  For example, when we studied Noah’s Ark a while back, I created a Noah’s Ark board full of interesting crafts and teaching ideas.  I could refer back to those ideas, and I would consult the children on different things that they might do.  I would see if there was any interest in further study by gauging my children’s interest as we went through the boards.

So, those are the main ways we use Pinterest in our homeschool.  Do you enjoy using Pinterest?  How do you use it in your homeschool?

Praying Upside Down {A Tyndale House Review}

Praying Upside Down

My prayer life feels stale sometimes, and sometimes it’s totally focused on myself in a way that I know cannot be pleasing towards God.  So, as I struggle against that, I feel like I’m constantly searching for a new way to relate to God,.  When I saw Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s book, Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time with God, I knew I wanted to take some time to get more acquainted with it.

When I first received the book, I was a little skeptical.  There were prayer palette suggestions at the end of each chapter that seemed, on the surface, to be strange to this Baptist girl, involving different forms of journaling, and sometimes even drawing!  My skeptical self almost put this book down.

However, I decided to give it a shot and I wound up captivated by this peek into the author’s prayer life.  She relates examples of times when she felt like God didn’t answer her, times when God didn’t answer the way she would have liked and times when the answer seemed to be a perfect one for her life.  Along the way, Stanley, who is an artist, shares different art techniques and relates each technique back to prayer, giving you multiple avenues into a fresh relationship with God.

I ended up finding this book highly relatable, and full of ways to rethink my prayer life as I move forward.  This one actually ends up earning a space on my permanent shelf because I think many of the ideas with art and the prayer palette suggestions would be great for me to work through with the children that I teach the the other women I might disciple.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book free from the publisher.  Thank you!!  I wasn’t required to write a positive review.

A Slice of the Universe

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to look through the archives of my blogging journals and see what I’ve promised to write about and haven’t written about yet.  So, with that in mind, I was thumbing through my notebook today, and I a project I had wanted to write about from last February that I haven’t had time to yet.

A Slice of the Universe

Last year, Firecracker spent a couple of weeks completing a science unit on astronomy.  As part of this unit, he was introduced to the idea of his position in the universe.  This was by taking a slice of the universe.

A slice of the universe starts underneath our feet and goes all the way to the stars and planets above.  We constructed our own piece of the universe.

We started with a piece of white bulletin board paper that we unrolled for our project.  We cut apart brown construction paper and layered it for the ground.  Firecracker and I found some clip art worms (and even a clip art skeleton to put into our ground.

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Then we cut green construction paper into a nice grass shape and glued it down.  A house was also quickly made with construction paper.

Firecracker decided to draw on his people and some airplanes and helicopters.  Cotton balls would form the clouds.

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Finally, he made a big yellow pom-pom for the sun, and several other pom-poms to be planets in the distance.  He even added some foam star stickers to be the stars in the sky.  (The big red pom pom is Jupiter!)

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I thought it turned out to be a really nice way to illustrate how the earth extends up into space and that it also extends far down below our feet.  As an artsy Mom, I was also very excited to be able to combine science with a nice use of collage.

This Week

This week was a pretty unusual week for us.  My Hubby was gone all weekend on a business trip, and we’re not used to him traveling.  He got in late on Sunday night, and stayed home from the office to recuperate on Monday.  Tuesday was Owlet’s birthday, and by the time we got done with CBS on Wednesday it felt like the whole week was shot for productivity.  Still, we managed to have some fun and do some things too :-)

To begin with, of course was Owlet’s birthday.  She turned four, and she loves princesses and fairies.  She had a Barbie cake, and has spent a lot of time wearing the fairy costume she got for her birthday since we celebrated Tuesday night.  It’s amazing to know that we no longer have a toddler in the house.  Instead, we’re full of walking, talking preschoolers and elementary aged kids.  We’re in a really fun stage here :-)

Owlet's Birthday

We learned how to make hanging flower baskets at our monthly Kid’s Club co-op this month. This was too much fun!  Owlet, especially enjoyed getting to spend some time gardening.

Making Plants

We continued with our writing and literacy hour this week.  It’s become a good solid daily habit in our homeschool.

Literacy Hour

We also made a trip to the library this week and picked up all kinds of picture books for reading.  In fact, we didn’t really read any chapter books this week, just picture books.  I’m okay with sacrificing a little on the chapter books to allow the preschoolers to more fully participate in our homeschool.

books

While I’m on the topic of English, The little kids continued working on First Start Reading this week.  They learned the word “ram” this week.

First Start Reading

Rose worked on Spelling You See this week, but I never got any pictures.  Firecracker has, after a long break away from it went back to Logic of English this week.  He completed lesson 3.  It’s actually going much better with him now that Rose is doing her own thing.  (In May or June, I’m going to take some time to share each child’s progress for this year, and my ideas/plans for them for next year.)

Logic of English

We also spent some time as a family working on our Revolutionary War study from Homeschool Legacy.  We spent some time mapping, and we had some movie time with a couple of history cartoons that my Dad had given us.  I even had the little kids watching the movies and coloring the continents and the oceans.  The big kids labeled several countries as well.  (Monkey kept turning his continent page upside down.  Oh well, at least he could figure out which was land and which was water.)

history

We took one afternoon and made a Pinterest craft together.  Firecracker had been asking to make sock puppets for a couple of weeks, and we finally got around to making some.  I think they turned out pretty well.  The children were happy ;-)

sock puppets

The little kids worked on both online and worksheet portions of their La La Logic program.  I’ll be bringing you a review next week, and I’ll be gushing over it, I’m sure.  They ask to work on it every day!

La La Logic

The three younger ones have also spent plenty of time building with Legos.  They’ve been using the huge Mega Blocks and the Duplo Legos that they all have.  Owlet even received new Sophia Duplos for her birthday that she’s been playing with all week.

Legos

I also took some pictures in Sunday school this week.  I’ve continued my eternal security series in my Sunday school class. You might remember that I have a couple of posts in the series here and here.  I owe you guys a new post soon with my children’s lesson on how he’s got us in his hands.  We’re also doing some work with the Books of the Bible that I plan on posting about soon.

eternal security

I guess that’s all for now.  I’ll be back tomorrow with an astronomy project post that I’ve been meaning to share for over a year now.  Hope you guys had a great week too!

A Joyful Heart and a Happy Home

a joyful heart and a happy home

I listen to them as they clean the dining room floor.  Hubby is supervising the cleaning because no matter how much I work at it, cleaning is not a gift of mine.  I get too distracted by other things and find myself with twelve different tasks going on at the same time and nothing finished.  Fortunately for us all, Hubby understands how to get one task done before moving onto the next.  (But that’s a blog post for another day :-) )

One child is certainly not taking the cleaning lesson cheerfully.  She whines that she’ll never get done.  Her eyes turn red with unshed tears, and she bemoans the work ahead.  While my Hubby tells her that she needs an attitude change my question for her is: How are we going to help her attitude?

While I firmly believe that Christ is the only thing that makes a heart truly joyful, let’s face the fact that, in our life, good moods come and go.  How do we nurture those good moods for a happy home?  While I don’t have a complete answer, I was reminded of this verse today as I listened to my daughter complain and have a miserable time helping out around the house.  Proverbs 17:22 says,

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

I may not have a complete answer, but I do have some suggestions for adding some cheerfulness and joy into your home.  These are the things that we are trying (even when it’s hard) to implement with our children in the hopes that it will add create a happy home.

First, I’m sharing the love of Jesus with my children.  I’m not sharing them Jesus’s love as a list of must-dos and must-not dos.  That would probably be the easiest way to turn my children off of Jesus.  So, instead I’m helping them to see Jesus and his love and the joy that he has brought me.  I show them how I follow Jesus in the hopes that they’ll be drawn to the Jesus in me.  Some days it’s very hard, but it’s important to me.

The second thing we’re trying to do is to is fill our home with laughter.  This isn’t something that comes naturally to me.  You might have noticed from my writing that I tend to take life seriously and introspectively.  I married well though.  My husband, whom I love so much, tends to find the fun and the funny in life.

So, while he manages the fun, I work on loving and engaging with the children.  I work on giving each of them the special time that they need.  I work on creating a relaxed environment.  While this is to make our home peaceful, I find that ultimately I’m the person most changed by this and because I’m cultivating peace in my life, I have that peace to extend to others.  It makes our whole house happier.

Third, I try to look for ways for the children to get along.  Our main household rule is to be kind to each other.  So, I encourage the children to think of others and to be kind to them, even when it’s hard.  It’s often been hard for me, and a big part of creating a more peaceful home for me has been placing my children over my heart and praying for them.

The best advice I can give to any of my children is that, when they tell me one of the others is driving them up the wall, helping them to pray for each other.  It’s hard to hold anger and hurts against someone you’re actively praying for.

Finally, as an outgrowth of that, I want them to love each other.  They they don’t love each other, my role as a parent has been a failure.  I point out to the children when the other child may have a point that their not seeing.  I encourage them to deal quickly with hurts and grudges.  It’s important for them to go to someone who’s hurt them and let them know so that they can move forward.  Keeping our relationships in our house peaceful is a big part of what will keep our whole home peaceful and cheerful.

I know that a lot of my child’s difficulty in having a cheerful heart stems from her childish immaturity, and I work be patient and kind and to cover her with love and prayers.  I have faith that over time God will change her heart.

Dandelion: A Spring Nature Study

DandelionNature study is one of my failures as a Mom.  That’s a real homeschool confession.  I don’t like the cold weather in the winter, and in the summer I only want to be in the swimming pool.  Although spring and fall could still brim with endless potential, I often don’t even think about it.

So, I decided that this year I’m going to dip my toe into a couple of nature studies–simple ones that don’t demand a lot of me.  Instead, I decided to watch and see what my children were interested in when we went outside.  Then, I thought I could make a couple of activity suggestions for the children based on that.

So, watching my two preschoolers play at both my mother’s house and on a field trip we were on this week, I noticed how much they both loved dandelions.  They would often pick them up and hand them to me as gifts.  Other times, they would pick one up, make a wish and blow dandelion fluff all over the yard.

So, with that in mind, I decided to put together this list of simple resources.  I’m going to be pulling for them for suggestions for both activities and reading for the children the next time we go to the library.

Dandelion Books

The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony.  This book tells the story of the journey of a single dandelion seed.  It also has a follow-up book called The Dandelion Seed’s Big Dream.

The Dandelion’s Tale by Kevin Sheehan and Rob Dunlavey.  This story tells the tale of an unusual friendship between a dandelion and a sparrow.

A Dandelion’s Life (Nature Upclose) by John Himmelman.  This is a beautiful look at a dandelion’s life cycle.

Dandelions: Stars in the Grass by Mia Posada.

Dandelion Crafts

Dish Brush Dandelions–Crafty Morning (Just need paint and a dish brush!)

How to Draw a Dandelion from Paperblog.  This is a gel pen drawing that even this Momma wants to give a try.

Q Tip Dandelion from No Time For Flash Cards

I Wish writing craftivity

Dandelion Seed Activity from Five Orange Potatoes.  This art activity uses actual dandelion seeds on it :-)

Dandelion Blow Painting by Teach Preschool.  This one mixes some science on seed dispersal in.

Duct Tape Dandelions from 101 Duct Tape Crafts.

Dandelion Fun

Dandelion Crowns by Wabi-Sabi Wanderings.  I can imagine my girls both wearing beautiful dandelion crowns…or making necklaces like I used to make as a child.

Spring Flower Sensory Bottle from My Little 3 and Me.  Owlet is still young enough to take delight in playing and looking at a bottle like this one.

Dandelion Massage Oil from Twig and Toadstool

Dandelion Play Dough from Wildflower Ramblings

And there you have it.  Some of the dandelion activities I’ve seen that I think look the most fun.  So, what would you do with dandelions?

If you’re looking for more spring nature study, just click the graphic below for a Crew Round-up of Spring Nature study ideas.  (Link goes live 4/22)

Nature Study for Your Homeschool