Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Basic Homeschool Helps

With local schools sending kids home to learn for the next few weeks, I figured there might be some parents who struggle with the transition. Any new routine for a kid is likely to lead to a struggle, so I’ve put together some advice and resources you may find helpful. These would also be helpful during long school breaks, as well.

Transitions Are Hard

Know that transitions are hard. What is novel at first quickly wears off and becomes a little difficult. You aren’t doing it wrong. The kids aren’t doing it wrong. It is just hard to get into new routines, especially when you know they are temporary. If your kid’s school isn’t requiring work to be done, feel free to take a full break or look at the activities suggested here to keep the days from becoming drudgery. Give yourself and the kids some grace.

Routines Help

Creating a routine or a rhythm to the “off” days can help make them flow more smoothly. Breaking up the day into sections, even if they are flexible, will help kids not get bored and also not wallow in misery at the never-ending hours to fill. You can model your day after their school day, or you can make something else up entirely. Even just having a “breakfast time”, “snack time”, “lunch time, “tea time”, etc. can help break the day up into manageable chunks.

Work before Play

If your kids will be expected to complete work on break, as I know many will be, set the habit, from the start, of putting the work first. Once they get into a video game, it can be hard to bring them back out to boring old math work. For us, we don’t allow TV or video games before school. (We actually don’t allow video games on school days at all.) If they want to do something before school, they can read, write, or create art. We try to limit the “fun” stuff before work because work becomes such a drudgery when you feel like you’re missing out on fun things to do it.

Time Is Different at Home

At home, time is different. What might usually take them 40 minutes to do at school may only take 15 at home. There aren’t other kids asking questions. There aren’t ducks to line up before work can be done. You didn’t miss anything just because the lessons seem shorter.

Similarly, it may take longer for some kids at home. They’ve been trained to work in a specific environment in a specific way. It can be difficult to transition from that. Think about being used to working in the quiet of an office and suddenly being thrust into the middle of a busy coffee shop— or vice versa. It may take a kid more time to settle into doing work in a different place with different sounds and smells. If it takes a little longer, you’re not doing it wrong and neither are they. Adjustments can be hard.

Activities

You may be fine with letting your kids be a couch potato on break. If you are, cool. Do what works for you and your kids! If your kids are the “I’m boooored” type, here are some ways you can break up your days.

Documentaries

TV doesn’t have to be bad. There are some really interesting documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime that can be educational and fun. Definitely check out The Riot and The Dance on Amazon! There are also some fun educational shows like the Magic Schoolbus. Also, some movies that were made from books might be worth checking out. You may have time to read the book and watch the movie. Or perhaps you can choose movies based on books they’ve already read. That comparison is always fun. We’ve also had fun comparing two versions of the same story.

Read Aloud

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we love reading in our house. My kids, even those old enough to read, really enjoy us reading to them. Grab a book and read together. Not sure what to read? What do you want to read? Is there a book you read as a kid that really sticks out in your mind? Maybe read that. Is there a book that has been of interest to you that you haven’t taken the time to read? Maybe read that. Is there a book your child is itching to read? Might be a good one!

Audiobooks

Listening to an audiobook while drawing, crocheting, or just sitting and cuddling is a great way to spend some time. Your local library likely has a good selection using the Overdrive or Libby app and putting in your library card number. You can also get some great audiobooks from Audible through Amazon. You don’t have to be an Audible member to buy books. (Nick Offerman reading Tom Sawyer is better than reading the book. Will Wheton reading Ready Player One is better than reading the book.) You can also sign up for Scribd, which is like Netflix for audio- and ebooks. They have a great selection.

Reading

Reading books that aren’t for school is a fun way to spend time. My boys love Nathan Hale books. They are historical graphic novels that tell the stories of famous wars and things in a very engaging way. Recently, they’ve also really enjoyed reading the Last Kids on Earth series (which is now a show on Netflix). There are also some Teen Titans graphic novels that are coming out, though currently I think Raven is the only one available. Whatever your kid is into— I’m sure there is a book to pique their interest. Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book and Fortunately, the Milk have also been big hits here.

Worksheets/Activities

You may have a kid who loves workbooks and activities that they do in school. I was one of those kids. TeachersPayTeachers.com is a website devoted to teachers sharing the resources they’ve created, and you can buy the PDFs and print them at home! There are some free worksheets available, or you can buy any specific worksheets for any subject. My younger ones enjoy The Moffat Girls worksheets. My older ones have loved the interactive notebooks from Lovin Lit.

You may find you want little unit study type activities for your kids. Check out Chickie and Roo, Firefly Nature School, Twig and Moth, Exploring Nature with Children, Fiddlestick Kids, and Brave Grown Home. They all offer various lessons, cards, and tools to supplement a fun unit study.

It would also be a great time to try out Skillshare. (This link will get you two months free for a trial.) You can take classes on a phone, tablet, or computer on virtually anything. My kids really enjoy the drawing and illustration courses.

There are a lot of ideas on Pinterest of fun, hands-on activities you can do with kids. You can also check out my post on Kindergarten Math Boxes for some ideas of hands-on activities for younger kids.

Nature Study

If you aren’t sick, get outside and study nature. Grab some colored pencils and drawing paper or a notebook. Just learn to observe and draw what you see. The trees are blooming, there are plenty of fun things outside to draw and record. If you have watercolors, it can be fun to break those out and practice getting colors you see in nature onto the page. Not sure where to start? Grab a leaf. What do you notice about it? Can you draw the shape? Is the color even and consistent? What do the veins look like? Nature study is really about capturing what you see and learning to see those things.

Games

Board games and card games are a lot of fun when a parent is involved. I have enough kids that they can manage a full board game on their own. But even still, the fun really ramps up when my husband or I get involved in the game. Dust off the Monopoly, Scrabble, Sorry, Uno, or Candyland and get playing! There are also some new games out there you may not have played that are pretty fun. Exploding Kittens, Unstable Unicorns, King of Tokyo, Munchkins, and Dungeons and Dragons might be fun to learn.

Puzzles are also a fun family event in our house. The littles love puzzles, but when we get a big, complex puzzle, the whole family gets in on the creating. There isn’t a single person in our house who can resist putting a few pieces into an unfinished puzzle.

Bonding and Creating Memories

I know it can be frustrating to have such a long, unplanned break. Especially when there is really nowhere to go during the break. But you have the chance to create some really awesome memories and bond with your kids in ways that wouldn’t ordinarily be possible. How often do we wish for a break in the busyness of modern life and never can find a space to take one? We’ve been given the break. It is definitely not the way any of us would want it, but let’s take advantage anyway! Don’t stress yourself out trying to make every moment perfect and magical. Memories are made in all-day pajama-days, movie marathons, and yelling over Uno. No magic required— just presence.

** This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links do benefit me but don’t cost you more to use. Using affiliate links is a way to thank your favorite content creators. **

Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Godbold Academy 2020-2021: Rhetoric Stage Plans

The rhetoric stage is essentially the high school stage. This level bumps up in difficulty quite a bit, as students are able to handle deeper and more difficult books. I expect my rhetoric students to be fully independent, except they do join us for Morning Basket. I keep all my kids running along the same history timeline, though they may be at a slightly different pace and very different difficulty levels. I give my rhetoric students a checklist of work for the week and they are responsible for doing it and checking it off. I usually check their work only weekly, though we do discuss their readings over dinner daily.

Bible

The Bible Among the Myths (1 chapter per week; weeks 1-11)

The Epic of Eden (1 chapter per week; weeks 13-23)

The Epic of Eden Small Group Study (daily reading plus weekly video and discussion; weeks 25-36)

History

The History of the Ancient World (1-3 days per week; weeks 1-31)(Keep a list of important people and dates in history notebook)

The Iliad with Memoria Press Student Guide (weeks 1-24)

The Odyssey with Memoria Press Student Guide (weeks 25-36)

The Epic of Gilgamesh (weeks 25-36)

Science

Nature Study: The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (weeks 1-36)

General Science 2: Survey of Geology and Archaeology (weeks 1-36)

Language Arts

Grammar: 180 Daily Teaching Lessons for grade level (5 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Writing: The Creative Writer (weeks 1-36)

Literature

Till We Have Faces (weeks 1-6)

The Lightening Thief (weeks 1-17)

The Hobbit with Memoria Press Study Guide (weeks 7-11)

The Lord of the Rings (weeks 13-30)

The Sea of Monsters (weeks 18-30)

The Titan’s Curse (weeks 30-34)

Logic

Introduction to Logic (weeks 1-36)

Languages

Latin: Canon Press Latin Primer (weeks 1-36)

French: Rosetta Stone French (2-3 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Math

Life of Fred at level

Character

Plutarch Lives, Volume 1 (2 days/week; weeks 1-21)

Plutarch Lives, Volume 2 (2 days/week; weeks 21-35)

I keep everything planned out as seen above for each week.

** This post contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links is a great way to support your favorite content creators. **

I encourage you, don’t feel like you have to buy all your school books new! Check out ThriftBooks.com for some great deals on used books. (That link is my referral link!) Also, check out Scribd, which is like Netflix for ebooks and audiobooks. (That link is my referral link!) There are so many great books available through both that will save you money. Also, remember to check your library. Libby is a great app that many library systems use where you can get ebooks and audiobooks through your local library. Of course, you can also max out your library card checking out great books, as well.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Godbold Academy 2020-2021: Logic Stage Plans

The logic stage in homeschooling lasts from about fifth or sixth grade through eighth grade, depending on the child. This is what we’d all typically call “middle school”. The logic stage is a bump up in difficulty, and I expect my logic aged children to be pretty much independent. I do not read the scheduled books to my logic students, they read all their books on their own except for Morning Basket. For the logic stage, I give the child a list of the work they need to do each day and they check it off as they complete it. I do check it at the end of the day or week, depending on the child. And we do discuss it, usually over dinner.

Bible

Herein is Love: Numbers (weeks 1-24)

Herein is Love: Deuteronomy (weeks 25-34)

History

Story of the World, Volume 1 (weeks 1-34)(This is the history spine for both the grammar and logic stages. If you have grammar aged kids and are reading the chapter to them, you can include the logic student in the reading. Logic students keep a list of the important people and dates from this reading. I plan 1-2 chapters each week to complete the entire volume in three 12-week terms.)

Story of the World, Volume 1, Activity Guide (weeks 1-34) (This activity guide has questions about each chapter and outlines to complete, along with activities and book suggestions should you choose to do them.)

Book of the Ancient World with Memoria Press Study Guide (2-3 days/week; weeks 1-12)

Famous Men of Greece with Memoria Press Study Guide (1-2 days/week; weeks 1-20)

Book of the Ancient Greeks with Memoria Press Study Guide (2-3 days/week; weeks 13-23)

Famous Men of Rome with Memoria Press Study Guide (1-2 days/week; weeks 21-35)

Augustus Caesar’s World (3-5 days/week; weeks 23-36)

Science

Nature Study: The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (weeks 1-36)

Core: General Science 2: Survey of Archaeology and Geology (weeks 1-36)

Language Arts

Grammar: Easy Grammar Plus (5 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Writing: The Creative Writer (weeks 1-36)

Literature

The Hobbit with Memoria Press Study Guide (weeks 1-10)

The Lightening Thief (weeks 1-11)

Imagine… The Great Flood (weeks 1-15)

The Bronze Bow with Memoria Press Study Guide (weeks 13-21)

The Sea of Monsters (weeks 13-22)

Imagine… The Ten Plagues (weeks 16-30)

The Children’s Homer (weeks 22-32)

The Titan’s Curse (weeks 23-36)

Logic

The Thinking Toolbox (2 days/week; weeks 1-19)

The Fallacy Detective (2 days/week; weeks 19-36)

Languages

Latin: Canon Press Latin Primer (weeks 1-36)

French: Rosetta Stone French (2-3 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Math

Strayer Upton Arithmetics (5 days/ weeks; weeks 1-36) (Book: 1, 2, 3)

Character

The Radical Book for Kids (1-2 days/week; weeks 1-35)

I keep everything planned out as seen above for each week. For the grammar stage, I try to plan the majority of the work Monday-Thursday and add extra subjects in on Fridays.

** This post contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links is a great way to support your favorite content creators. **

I encourage you, don’t feel like you have to buy all your school books new! Check out ThriftBooks.com for some great deals on used books. (That link is my referral link!) Also, check out Scribd, which is like Netflix for ebooks and audiobooks. (That link is my referral link!) There are so many great books available through both that will save you money. Also, remember to check your library. Libby is a great app that many library systems use where you can get ebooks and audiobooks through your local library. Of course, you can also max out your library card checking out great books, as well.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Godbold Academy 2020-2021: Grammar Stage Plans

The grammar stage in homeschooling spans from about kindergarten or first grade through fourth or fifth grade, depending on the child. I include my young ones in our grammar schooling, as they usually want to keep up with their siblings and they enjoy the readings and such. Some things are specific to the actual place the child is in a subject, some things are more universal. If you’ve never seen planning by stage, this may seem confusing that first and fifth graders can go by the same curriculum plans. But trust me, I’ve been combining ages for a long time and can tell you, even with the same sources, kids work and understand at the level they are.

Bible

The Ark, The Reed, and The Fire Cloud (4 days/week; weeks 1-17)

The Dreamer, The Schemer, and The Robe (4 days/week; weeks 18-32)

History

Story of the World, Volume 1 (1-2 days/week; weeks 1-34) (This is the history spine. There are additional readings for history, but this is the main portion of history. I cover 1-2 chapter each week to get through the entire volume in our three 12-week terms.)

Story of the World, Volume 1, Activity Guide (weeks 1-34) (This book is used for weekly activities and contains coloring pages and suggestions to “beef up” Story of the World.)

It’s Disgusting and We Ate It! (week 1)

You Wouldn’t Want to be a Pyramid Builder (weeks 2-3)

You Wouldn’t Want to be a Sumerian Slave (weeks 4-5)

Gilgamesh the King (week 6)

The Revenge of Ishtar (week 6)

The Last Quest of Gilgamesh (week 6)

One Grain of Rice (week 7)

The Story About Ping (week 7)

Anasi the Spider (week 8)

Temple Cat (week 8)

Baby Moses (week 9)

In Search of a Homeland (weeks 9-14)

Tales of Troy and Greece (weeks 13-20)

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths (weeks 21-36)

Classical Kids (activity guide for making history activities)

Old Testament Days (activity guide for making history activities)

Science

Nature Study: Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader on Student’s Level (1-3 days/week; weeks 1-36)(individual readers availble for sale on Christian Book)

Core Science: General Science 2: Survey of Geology and Archaeology (just using the books for the grammar stage. The logic and rhetoric stages are using the full curriculum. This is our main science curriculum. We’re adding some more books to further study the topics found in these books.) (weeks 1-32) (Individual books: Archaeology, Geology, Fossil, Cave)

Geology Lab for Kids (weeks 33-36)

Rocks, Rivers, and the Changing Earth (weeks 1-28)

Archaeologists Dig for Clues (weeks 1-2)

The Street Beneath My Feet (weeks 3-4)

What is an Archaeologist? (weeks 5-6)

Ancient Civilizations (weeks 7-10)

Planet Earth Inside Out (Week 11)

Rocks, Fossils, and Arrowheads (week 17)

A Rock is Lively (week 19)

Rock Collecting for Kids (weeks 20-21; 28-32)

Caves and Caverns (weeks 22-25)

Jurassic Poop (week 26)

Let’s Go Rock Collecting (week 27)

Language Arts

Once kids can read, they start grammar. I do read the Literature books out loud for the younger kids. Free Reads are for kids old enough to read chapter books alone. If you’ve got a great reader, check out the books for the logic stage. If you’ve got ones learning to read, reading Bob books during the free reading time is a great option.

Grammar

Beowulf Grammar (4-5 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Literature Reads

The First Dog (week 1)

A Cry from Egypt (weeks 1-8)

Mummies Made in Egypt (week 3)

Mummies in the Morning (weeks 4-8)

Hour of the Olympics (weeks 9-12)

The Children’s Homer (weeks 13-20)

The Trojan Horse (weeks 15-18)

Romulus and Remus (weeks 21-22)

Aesop’s Fables (weeks 22-36)

Free Reads

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Runaway Ralph

Ralph S. Mouse

Fortunately, the Milk

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

James and the Giant Peach

The Boxcar Children

Handwriting

Draw, Write, Now (1-2 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Logic

Creative Problem Solving (1 day/week; weeks 1-36)

Languages

My kids have been learning French. I usually don’t start Latin until the Logic stage.

My First French Lesson (1 day/week; weeks 1-36)

Math

Use whatever math works for your child. This is just what we use for this stage.

Math Mammoth on child’s level (4-5 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Character

The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper (week 10)

Junior Comes Clean (week 11)

Bob and Larry and the Case of the Missing Patience (week 12)

Larry Makes a Choice (week 23)

All is Fair When We Share (week 24)

I keep everything planned out as seen above for each week. For the grammar stage, I try to plan the majority of the work Monday-Thursday and add extra subjects in on Fridays.

** This post contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links is a great way to support your favorite content creators. **

I encourage you, don’t feel like you have to buy all your school books new! Check out ThriftBooks.com for some great deals on used books. (That link is my referral link!) Also, check out Scribd, which is like Netflix for ebooks and audiobooks. (That link is my referral link!) There are so many great books available through both that will save you money. Also, remember to check your library. Libby is a great app that many library systems use where you can get ebooks and audiobooks through your local library. Of course, you can also max out your library card checking out great books, as well.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Godbold Academy 2020-2021: Morning Basket

I mentioned in my review of A Gentle Feast that we aren’t going back to it this coming school year. I figured I’d share our full curriculum plans for this coming year, which include all three classical stages or all four Charlotte Mason forms, whichever way you want to look at it. We’ve got a lot of kids spanning a lot of grades around here. Our history cycle this coming year will be Ancient History, which I’m pretty excited to get back into. For the sake of length, I’m splitting the posts on the curriculum up, so be sure to check out the Grammar (K-4/5), Logic (5/6-8), and Rhetoric (9-12) plans, as well.

Morning Basket

I like to start the day with all the kids together. We will add poetry memorization and Bible verse memorization to this book list. I’ll choose one poem per kid/stage and one Bible passage for all the kids for each of the three terms. All weeks are approximate, as sometimes we read faster and sometimes we read slower. I should also note that this is not the entirety the kids will learn in these subjects, just what we are reading together.

Bible

I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God (3 days/week; weeks 1-14)

I Am Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Names of God (3 days/week; weeks 14-36)

Action Bible Guess-It Game (1 day/week; weeks 1-12)

Apples to Apples Bible Edition (1 day/week; weeks 13-36)

Character

I am N (2 days/week; weeks 1-36)

Manners

Emily Post’s Etiquette (1 day/week; weeks 1-36)

History

Unveiling the Kings of Israel (1 day/week; weeks 1-20)

Unwrapping the Pharaohs (1 day/week; weeks 8-36)

Science

The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible (1 day/week; weeks 1-7)

Dinosaurs: Marvels of God’s Design (1 day/week; weeks 8-36)

Read Alouds/ Literature

The Mysterious Benedict Society (4-5 days/week; weeks 1-12)

Nooks and Crannies (4-5 days/week; weeks 13-24)

Wonder (4-5 days/week; weeks 25-36)

Fun

Mad Libs (1 day/week; weeks 1-36) (We usually got through 3-4 Mad Libs books per year. I generally grab ones I think the kids will enjoy, since it is for fun. It does help, especially with the younger ones, to learn the parts of speech.)

Mother Culture

This year, I’m adding the category of Mother Culture to my Morning Basket. These aren’t books I’ll be reading with the kids, they are books I’m assigning myself to read to grow and expand. Your choices for this may vary, and your reading speed may vary. I wanted some homeschool encouragement, but feel like I need a lot of mom encouragment this year. You might find you want something different. Choosing the books ahead of time keeps me from making excuses not to do it and it sets a path forward for me. For me, a book a month is a fairly leisurely speed that will allow for other reading as it comes, as well.

The Brave Learner

The Ministry of Ordinary Places

Theology of Home

Mere Motherhood

The Life-giving Home

Why Motherhood Matters

The Call of the Wild and Free

Mama Bear Apologetics

A Mother’s Rule of Life

Extras

These are extra things I keep on hand for after school play or during reading quiet play for the littler ones.

Imhotep Board Game

Temple Trap Game

Zeus on the Loose Game

Greek Gods and Goddesses Coloring Book

Life in Ancient Egypt Coloring Book

Dinosaur Coloring Book

Ancient Rome Toob

Ancient Egypt Toob

Mythical Realms Toob

Greek Mythology Top Trumps

Ancient Egypt Top Trumps

Heir of Egypt Game

Alphabetimals Coloring Book

Animal Alphabet Coloring Book

Sea Life Alphabet Coloring Book

I set up a chart for each week that looks similar to this. I haven’t chosen the specific poems or memory verses just yet, so I’ll fill that in once I decide. If I’ve already printed it, I’ll just write that in. I’ll print these out and put them in a binder with our Morning Basket of books.

** This post contains affiliate links. Using affiliate links is a great way to support your favorite content creators. **

I encourage you, don’t feel like you have to buy all your school books new! Check out ThriftBooks.com for some great deals on used books. (That link is my referral link!) Also, check out Scribd, which is like Netflix for ebooks and audiobooks. (That link is my referral link!) There are so many great books available through both that will save you money. Also, remember to check your library. Libby is a great app that many library systems use where you can get ebooks and audiobooks through your local library. Of course, you can also max out your library card checking out great books, as well.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, With The Kids

Godbold Academy 2020-2021 Curriculum

This school year, we’re going back to me fully planning the year. My home education ideals fall somewhere between Classical and Charlotte Mason. We’ve fully done both, and find that a mix between the two works best for us. I rely heavily on real books, but we don’t rely heavily on narration.

I wanted to share my plans with you because I know this isn’t something everyone likes to do. I know a lot of homeschool moms aren’t comfortable crafting an entire curriculum, or they don’t have the time or energy to do so. It just isn’t everyone’s “thing”. It is my “thing”, so I figured I’d share it, since I have it.

This year, we’re cycling back to Ancient History, which I am very excited about. We’ll have kids in all Classical stages and all Charlotte Mason forms. Essentially, I’ll have kids from elementary school to high school, so the plans for this year are for all grades. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve broken down the curriculum into four posts: Morning Basket, Grammar Stage, Logic Stage, and Rhetoric Stage.

Stages are not a one size fits all. You may notice the Logic Stage plans are too easy for your 8th grader, and you want to challenge them in certain areas. Go for it. You may think the Rhetoric assignments are too difficult for your 9th grade, bump them down in whatever subjects you choose or all of it. Swap out the books you don’t want for ones you do want. There are plenty of options out there, I’m just sharing with you what we’ll be doing.

You may notice I include some books that pure Charlotte Mason enthusiasts would consider twaddle. I try to include plenty of difficult great books for my kids to consume, but also know that I personally read twaddle from time to time for my own enjoyment. I’m just not opposed to letting kids read “fun” books (we’ll call them that instead of twaddle) to give them a break from the intense mental load of some great books. If you don’t like a book choice of mine, cool, don’t use it.

I’m simply putting this out there for anyone who wants to take a peek. Use it for your own curriculum. Use it for ideas to craft your own curriculum. Use it to look over and see options that exist. I’m just sharing.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, On The Reading Chair, With The Kids

Homeschool Resources

I realized that I haven’t shared my favorite homeschool resources lately. I have been finding some really awesome things for the kids that we have all really enjoyed. I’ve also found a few things I thought would be awesome that were complete duds.

Firefly Nature School

I happened to get a resource from Firefly Nature School in a bundle pack I purchased. It was so beautiful and so well done. I immediately went and did a full year subscription. If you sign up for emails, they do send out coupon codes, so keep your eyes open for that. The lessons are really beautiful and fun. They can be used for a wide range of ages. You can incorporate them in as science or nature study curriculum or you can just use them as a fun, planned outdoor activity.

Twig and Moth

I have been loving the Twig and Moth resources. I print the cards onto cardstock and my kids absolutely love them. They are so beautiful with lots of information. They go well with our Nature Anatomy books and Exploring Nature with Children.

Exploring Nature with Children

This guide is such a good resource for science or nature study. It would also make an excellent and fun co-op, for anyone inclined toward that sort of thing. I have the guide, the print guided journal, and the cursive guided journal. The guide contains a year round curriculum for nature study. It includes book recommendations and activities. The guided journal has a poem for the child to copy each week and papers to go along with activities. We’re using it again this year because one year wasn’t enough.

Brave Grown Home

We have been loving the nature guides from Brave Grown Home. I highly recommend the Full Nature Guide sets. For weeks when we have some more time for nature study or science, I love pulling and printing these lovely cards and posters for the kids to enjoy.

A Gentle Feast

I know I’ve already talked about it on the Facebook page, but we are going full in with A Gentle Feast this year. Being in school full time, I didn’t have the time to plan every detail of our curriculum myself, which is what I usually do. A Gentle Feast has all the planning done for me. I’ll give a full review in the future, but I am really happy with the choice and it fits our family really well. This is a Charlotte Mason curriculum that is meant to work well for people who have kids in multiple grades at the same time. The main curriculum has all the plans for history, science, literature, grammer, French, Spanish, and more. Just add math. The Language Arts add on pack gives all the copywork and dictation right there on the page so you aren’t pulling it for them each day. The Morning Time packets are for poetry, Bible, fables, art, and music. If you’ve never started your days with Morning Time, I highly recommend it. A Gentle Feast also has a reading program and handwriting program.

Our Handcrafted Life

This website has several beautiful free printables you can use for science or nature study. They are really lovely when printed onto cardstock. (My kids adore cards, can you tell?)

The Peaceful Preschool

This site only has resources for up to age 12, but they are beautiful. They have full curriculum, but also several unit study type packs. They also have some really nice free resources, including the book lists for their full curriculum!

Intentional Homeschooling

This one is actually in the dud category for me. I really thought I would enjoy several of her paid resources, and I was really disappointed in what I got. I bought the Guide to Annotating Books, thinking it would be great for my 8th grader. It was a 17 page document that was really just a glorified blog post. It should have been a free blog post. There was no technical information, just pictures and rambling about how she highlights and writes in her books. It was not helpful at all and I felt pretty ripped off. I also bought her mini planner, which I think I actually bought in a bundle pack with other brands and things. It was okay. Nothing spectacular. Most of the things in it were things I already have bullet journal spread for. It was just very basic. I just feel the content of her work isn’t necessarily worth the price.

Teachable.com

I’ve actually purchased a few things lately that use the Teachable.com platform. I’m just not a fan of things that come in the format. It is obnoxious. I’m usually just looking for PDFs. If I want to listen to something, I’ll listen to a podcast. These Teachable classes are just cumbersome and not the best way to get ideas out there. I’m sure some types of learners love these. But I have my current load of online classes with being in school full time and don’t want to waste my time on this.

As usual, this post may contain affiliate links. These links help me and they don’t cost you more to use.

Posted in Among The Homeschool, From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

Good Enough Parenting

If you follow me, you’ll know that I have made the foolhardy decision to go back to school. Because, you know, homeschooling seven kids and being in full-time ministry isn’t enough on a person. I clearly lacked the pressure of deadlines and lamenting over formatting issues in the wee hours of the morning in case my toddler isn’t keeping me up enough. Smack dab in the middle of my struggle to be everything to everyone, I get to take a lifespan development class. Now, I was really not looking forward to knowing all the ways I was currently messing up my kids’ lives. I’d really rather just keep my head down and get through this degree program.

And right on schedule, as I dove into lifespan development for the third time (I’ve had lifespan development classes before from other perspectives), I was ready to feel bad about the stress I am putting my family under right now. At first, I got that— the guilt. Infants rely on the steady care of a single caregiver and are upset when that is disrupted. Sorry Daisy. Preschoolers need adequate scaffolding to help them acquire new and deeper skills. Sorry Pippin, can’t scaffold for you, Mama’s got to write a paper about it instead. School aged children need security and patience with close monitoring as they learn new skills and begin to see themselves as others see them. Sorry Topher and Ransom, I don’t have time to monitor your mud pit fun, I’ve got papers to write. You get the idea. Everything is a slap in the face when you feel like you’re messing everything up— especially when you’re a mom of seven in school full time.

Then I came across the work of Donald Winnicott. He was an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst who voiced the idea of the “good enough” parent. I’m going to be grossly simplifying his work and pretty much just talking about a singular aspect. I’m imagining that if you were especially fond of psychoanalytic theory of infant development, you’d likely be taking the class I’m taking or reading a much longer book about the topic. (And just as a point of interest, the class ended up being extremely interesting and insightful. I feel like I only scratched the surface and would need another year to follow all the little rabbit trails my brain made.) For Winnicott, children didn’t need perfect parents. Children needed someone they could count on, but that someone didn’t have to be perfect all the time, they just had to be good enough. They just had to show up, love the kid, and do their best. Winnicott said that was the best kind of parent.

In today’s “perfect parenting” world, where parents feel judged every time they turn around, a world where parents spend so much time comparing their own parenting (and life) to what they see on Instagram, it is a breath of fresh air to read an expert tell us we only need to be “good enough”. The idea that everything bad that happens to our kid will be our fault is never flipped. If I’m responsible for all wrong roads my child may take, I’m also responsible for the right ones. And really, according to Winnicott, if I show up and do my best, my kids will turn out fine. Winnicott realized something our society won’t mention. Moms are people. They come with their own burdens, insecurities, and issues. Learning to be there for a child while still being a real person isn’t the easiest task for some people. And if you’re showing up, trying your best, and meeting the kid’s needs most of the time— you’re doing a good enough job of it. Not all of us can be Instagram perfect. We can’t have the perfect house with everything in various shades of white and grey. (How do you people keep white couches clean with kids?!) We can’t all be stay at home moms with endless budgets for all the kids enrichment activities and the “right” toys, clothes, and baby gear. We can’t all have all organic everything from the local farmer’s market. Life is messy. Life isn’t always ideal. The good news, according to Winnicott, is that we don’t need all those things. We need to pay attention most of the time. We need to provide security most of the time. We need need to learn to sacrifice, but it is okay for life to not be all sacrifice. We won’t get the mothering thing right every single time. The good enough mom knows this and can give herself some grace, learn from her mistakes, and move on. 

So if I have to delegate some schooling tasks to Dad for the next year, that is okay. If afternoon reading time has to be audible books, that is okay. If my cooking slips to eating PB&J a little too often, they will survive. If I’m not sewing them cute clothes and instead slipping them into hand-me-downs, I doubt they’ll notice. I’m here. I’m doing my best. The kids will be alright, I’m good enough. 

Posted in From The Altar, Out Of My Head, With The Kids

Not About “Me-Time”

There is this myth in our culture that we have to look out for number one in order to get anywhere successfully. “Put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.” It sounds like such wise advise. It sounds like wisdom. 

People hop from church to church because they aren’t “fed”. Even worse are those that use multiple churches to meet all their own “spiritual” needs. Sunday morning here, Bible study there, women’s group over here— using what they consider to be the “best” of each “option” to build their perfect spiritual atmosphere. 

There is a very big book industry based on this concept. You’ll find options to fit every person, every religious affiliation, every type of person. Moms need “me-time”. Christians need “me-time”. Women need “me-time”. It sounds like wisdom. 

Sometimes, what sounds like wisdom, isn’t wisdom at all. 1 Corinthians 3:19-20 (CSB) says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, the Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are futile.” This message of “me-time”— looking out for yourself first— that isn’t the Christian message at all. In fact, it is pretty much the opposite. As Philippians 2:4 says, we are to look out not for our own interests, but the interests of others. (If you want to argue the “not only” portion, do yourself a favor and look up the MOUNCE Greek translation on Bible Gateway and see that the “not only” has no Greek underneath, because it isn’t in the Greek. See Dr. Kinlaw’s The Mind of Christ for more on that subject.) 

Christ says, to find your life, you have to lose it. He doesn’t say that, to find your life, you need to set aside an appropriate amount of me time in order to better “center yourself” for that life. Nope. Following Jesus is dying to self. Anyone who loves his life will lose it. Jesus is full of paradox. Things that sound like wisdom are foolish. The last will be made first— not because it is fair, but because that is His way. Those who lead will serve. Those who seem wise will be fools. If you really want to live, you lay down your life and let Him live through you. 

I’m not saying to neglect your health. I’m not saying that anything you do “for yourself” is sinful. I am saying that perhaps we need to look a little closer at the wisdom of the world and not accept it just because it sounds like wisdom. Check it against what God says in His book. Check it against your cultural assumptions. (Gym time is a luxury not afforded to many in this world. If you equate your gym time with personal righteousness, you are saying something about who can and cannot be righteous according to your gospel.) 

If I find myself looking for the religious experience that best suits me, I doubt I will find it. If I’m not being “fed”, perhaps the issue is that I’m not out in the field sowing. (“He who does not work will not eat” could apply to spiritual feeding, as well.) Perhaps I need to stop treating church like a spiritual gym and more like the meeting together of the people of God. 

When I am tired as a mother, the Bible does not tell me that luxury (through gym time, manicures, shopping, hair appointments, massages, etc.) is the way to find rest for my soul and strength for my task; the Bible tells me that in my weakness, He will be strong. It tells me that I can rest in Him and His promises. The Bible tells me that I will not work alone and that my work in making disciples of my children is His great commission. I could write an entire book on the blessing of being a mother and the amount of grace I’ve received from letting God work in those tired, busy times— but for today I’ll save you all of that. What I will say to the fellow mother who is struggling, feeling weighed down— the answer isn’t “me-time”. The answer is Jesus. Throw your full weight of burden on Him and watch Him transform it into something beautiful, meaningful, and redemptive.

Be careful, dear friends, in listening to what seems like wisdom. There is nothing wrong with going to the gym, getting your nails done, getting a massage, etc. There is something wrong if you equate those things with what it means to be a godly person. There is something wrong if you see those things as your “right”. There is something wrong if you are so focused and intent on those things that your are putting them first. This isn’t a call to martyrdom— to smear yourself in ashes and sackcloth to prove your righteousness. This is a call to take up your cross and follow Jesus. This is a call to stop thinking about yourself so much and start thinking about how you can serve others like Jesus.

Posted in Uncategorized, With The Kids

Wild Explorers Club Review

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I came across the Wild Explorers Club through Wild and Free. It seemed like a really good fit for our family. We don’t have the time for Scouts or whatever variation of that you present. With Wild Explorers, we could get outdoors and earn some badges in our own time. All the kids could participate. It seemed like a really good fit.

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The program cost is $14 a month. You get a monthly magazine, which is really short but has no ads and very high quality paper and printing. My kids really enjoyed the magazine. You also get a patch when you enter the program and additional patches when you finish each level. You only get one patch per subscription, but can buy additional patches for additional kids. We did it as a family activity, so the family was earning patches, not the individual. The assignments come available one at a time once a week. If you get behind, no worries, the assignments are still there for you to complete.

Each assignment has a short video for the kids to watch. I was able to play ours on the TV via Air Play. There is also a checklist for each assignment, which you can print or view on a tablet or computer. The video quality is really good. The handouts are good quality and consistent in how they look.

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There are 10 levels to complete. Our family has only completed the first two levels. With their old system, you had no way to look ahead and see what assignments might be coming. With the new system, I can sign in and see all the assignments, I just can’t access them until it is “time.”

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My kids loved Wild Explorers at first. They were really excited about it and excited to get outside hiking and observing nature. However, the program doesn’t really have as much outdoors as I anticipated and I eventually decided to cancel based on seeing the upcoming assignments and realizing that some of them would be impossible for our family and there wouldn’t be as much Exploring as I initially expected.

There are 10 levels and the levels get longer as you go. I broke down the number of assignments and if they were indoor or outdoor. I also took note of assignments that would cost us extra to complete assignments, because we don’t always have extra money budgeted for these sorts of things.

Level One- Wolf- There are 4 assignments, so you complete your first patch pretty quickly. Two assignments are outdoors, one is indoors, and one is half in and half out. The first assignment did cost us extra because it is making your adventure pack, where they tell you all the things you might need and you build your pack. Even using backpacks we had lying around, we still purchased pocket knives, compasses, first aid supplies, etc.

Level Two- Bobcat- 8 assignments. Three indoors, four outdoors, and one half in and half out. We had already purchased a compass, so we didn’t need to buy one when we came to an assignment requiring it. But one assignment was to try an exotic food, so we did take all the kids out to eat, which is expensive. We could have purchased ingredients for a special exotic meal at home.

Level Three- Bear- 8 assignments. Five indoor assignments, three outdoor assignments.

Level Four- Elk- 8 assignments. Seven indoor, one outdoor. These included some things that would be very difficult to do. Sell something and donate the money- that is a lot of work on me as a mama. Find out how to help a child in need in another country. Go to an animal shelter. These may or may not be things you can actually do. I can’t actually go to an animal shelter because of severe allergies, so that task wouldn’t have been able to be completed.

Level Five- Fox- 8 assignments. Seven indoor, one outdoor. There was at least one assignment in this batch that we could not do. (Go to work with a parent.) One assignment was to do a behind the scenes tour at a museum, farm, or business- which could be cost prohibitive depending on what your chose.

Level Six- Bison- 12 assignments- All twelve are indoor assignments. One assignment has the kids start a book club. One has them start their own library. These are not things the kids can execute on their own and they may or may not be things I wish to begin in my home.

Level Seven- Beaver- 12 assignments. Two indoor, six outdoor, and four that could be either. One assignment would cost you money to go to a zoo or aquarium to see an exotic animal. Two others may cost money (a picnic and historical site tour) depending on where you live and what you have available to you.

Level Eight- Owl- 12 assignments. 11 are indoor, 1 could be either indoor or outdoor. One would cost money, since it involves taking a craft type class.

Level Nine- Hawk- 12 assignments. Nine are indoor, two are outdoor, and one is half and half. You’ll be buying and collecting a lot of craft supplies for this level.

Level Ten- Eagle- 12 assignments. Ten are indoor, two could be indoor or outdoor. This level would be completely cost prohibitive for us to actually complete. There would be no way we could complete it. One assignment is to apply for your passport. One is to go on a boating trip. One is to take a trip by train. One is to go to another country. One is to take a guided tour. You get the idea. If you are not already planning a trip out of the country, this one is going to be a bit ridiculous. Unless you happen to live on a border, go on lavish vacations already, or are already planning to leave the country- this one is just not achievable by the average kid.

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Wild Explorers was an excellent idea. However, it ends up being something we just don’t have the money to complete and don’t really have the desire to do a lot of the indoor activities.  I’m pretty bummed about needing to cancel, because my kids were very into it and we devoted the time and money in getting through two levels. But knowing the kids will never complete two of the levels, and knowing half the assignments are things we have done before or will be doing anyway, it just seems like a waste.

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So, I’m going to have to make up my own version so my kids can continue their own Explorers Club. But Wild Explorers did not work for us. It is a really pretty program, but the actual assignments are just not going to work for our family and they just were not quite filling the need we needed them to fill.