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.

 

ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

***This blog regularly contains affiliate links. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite bloggers as we do receive a small commission if you buy using our links.***

The Search for Natural Carpet Cleaning

My OxiClean method of carpet cleaning is great for getting carpets clean. However, with a little one rolling around in the floor these days, I wanted something that was more natural. Cleaning with Young Living Thieves cleaner worked well, but that stuff is expensive and it isn’t the easiest to get your hands on. I got to thinking there had to be something cheap, natural, and easy to purchase that I could clean my carpets with.

Let me start by telling you that I should come with a warning sign that says, “Warning! I void warranties!” If you use anything other than the branded cleaning solution for your carpet cleaner you will void the warranty on the carpet cleaner. I’m just not down with that life. I cannot be limited to only products that say “Hoover” or “Bissel”. It seems like such a scam. Anyway. You’ve been very warned that you can void your warranty if you do anything I do.

My carpets are super dirty. I haven’t cleaned them in a year! Actually, more like 14 months. I have super cheap and very old carpet. We rent, so there isn’t anything I can do about the carpet. It was old and dingy when we moved in 9 years ago and SURPRISE! That doesn’t get better with time.

Also, I am well aware that professional cleaning is probably better. However, I cannot afford quarterly professional carpet cleaning for these old, cheap carpets in our house we rent. If you can afford someone, awesome. If you can’t, keep reading, because you are who this is for.

I started with my dining room. There was slime in the floor from a recent kid experiment. There was some paint, some turmeric, and several spilled drink spots. You start by emptying your room as much as possible and vacuuming the floor.

First I decided to try vinegar. It is super cheap. And I figured it might smell weird, but it might be the magic carpets need. I did two passes over the area with a half a cup of vinegar mixed into my clean water. It cleaned really well but did nothing for the stains. And it didn’t get up the slime, which is weird since it is water soluble.

Next, I grabbed a bowl and filled it with hot water and about a teaspoon of Castile soap. I usually have the hemp almond scent, but the rose was on sale, so we have rose right now. I use Castile soap for all manner of cleaning around my house and can get it right down the road. With a scrub brush, I scrubbed the stains and the gunk (slime) that didn’t come up with the vinegar alone.

This is after vinegar but before scrubbing.

After spot scrubbing, I decided it was time for the rinse portion of cleaning. When I “rinse” my carpet after cleaning and scrubbing, I just put hot water in the clean water portion of my carpet cleaner. No cleaning solution. You can add a few drops of essential oil, but mine was already smelling pretty strongly like rose, so I skipped that step. If you are using essential oil in the rinsing portion, you should be aware of a few things. The first is that you should always add the oil after you fill the water reservoir. If you add the oil first it can mess up the carpet cleaner by getting oil in little spots it probably shouldn’t be settling in. Next, do not use citrus oils, they can break down plastic, which is pretty much the entire carpet cleaner- so skip that one. If you want to use oil, but want to be a bit safer on your machine, grab a spray bottle and fill it with water and a few drops of oil, spray that over the carpet and then rinse the carpet. You’ll still be sucking the oil up, but not in concentrated amounts.

After the rinse, you can go back over the carpet again and not use water at all to suck up the excess water. I usually do this so it doesn’t take forever to dry.

So, the vinegar wasn’t the best at carpet cleaning. It really did clean my carpet. I can tell you, it is very clean. But you can see that there are still a lot of stains. However, I feel comfortable letting the baby wallow around on this. But I wasn’t entirely pleased with the results. So, on to the living room and a different method.

Same story. Remove as much of the furniture as you can. Vacuum the room. This time, I decided to give baking soda a shot. I put 1/3 cup of baking soda into some hot water to dissolve it, then poured that into the clean water.

You can see the little fuzz balls that accumulate. Just pick them up after each pass. This always happens to me, despite vacuuming well before starting. The baking soda wasn’t great. It feels like OxiClean on the floor. A little film going on. But it just wasn’t cleaning all that well. So, I switched tracks again.

This time, I decided to just use Castile soap. I put a capful in the clean water tank and set out to clean again. This time, it did much better.

I still had to spot clean some spots. And not all of them came out. Turmeric stains something awful. But I spot cleaned the same as before with Castile soap and a scrub brush. Then I rinsed the carpet with clean water. Then I went over it “dry” to suck up as much extra water as I could, so it wouldn’t be too very wet.

I am much happier with these results. I feel like the Castile soap got the slime and stuff up much better. The carpet got much cleaner looking. And it didn’t feel weird after. Castile soap is the clear winner. I was a little concerned that it would bubble up too much and affect the suction on the carpet cleaner, but using just a capful in the water seemed to be enough to clean but not enough to make a bubbly mess. (Like that time I put Dawn dish soap into the carpet cleaner.)

If you’re wanting your carpet to look new, use the OxiClean. If you want it clean, but are more concerned about having a kid or pet safe product, use the Castile soap. The Castile soap works just as well as the Thieves Cleaner did. My carpets aren’t perfect. I still wish I could pull them up and put something else down. But they are clean and they look a lot better. And the baby can wallow on them and I won’t worry about the residual cleaning product getting on her.

And to answer the common questions. I do not recommend any one carpet cleaner over another. I’ve used Hoover and Bissel. I have reviewed carpet cleaners for both companies. I’m not affiliated with one or the other. The cleaner in these pictures is the Hoover Powerdash Pet because that is the carpet cleaner I am currently reviewing. But I haven’t ever had one home carpet cleaner that was just stand out better than the others. They are all pretty much the same to me.

I purchase Castile soap at my local natural grocery store. I have purchased from Whole Foods in the past. And I have purchased it from Amazon. I have only used Dr. Bronner’s. It is what I like, so I keep buying it.

I am not a Young Living consultant, but I’m sure you know one if you want to try the Thieves Cleaner method. I was a consultant, but selling stuff isn’t for me, so I stopped. In fact, I need to update y’all about my oil purchasing. Because I still very much use and love essential oils. Need a consultant? Post on Facebook and I’m sure a dozen of your friends will be happy to sell it to you.

**This post contains an affiliate link (for the Castile soap). Using this link to purchase the item does not cost you more, but I do make a small amount from the purchase. Thank you, in advance, for supporting me by using my affiliate links. Support your favorite bloggers by using their links when you want to make a purchase. **

Advice to Large Family Parents

Being a large family can be very lonely. People stop inviting you over. You try to understand. You are an entire party in and of yourself now. It feels like you’re only invited to a party last minute when someone realizes they don’t have great guest numbers. Or maybe you have stopped accepting invitations. You feel like you are just too much and so you stop showing up. Either way, the result is feeling lonely. Here are a few tips for that:

– Stop waiting for invitations and start inviting people over. Maybe it can’t be weekly, but it could be monthly. Your house may not be spotless or quiet, but I bet it is fun and lively. Perfect for a party! Invite friends to eat at your place. Host holiday celebrations on your own. Rebuild your community network by being the host.

– Stop saying no to the invitations that are offered. If someone invites your whole family over, they’re accepting the crazy that comes with a large family. They probably really do want you there. You don’t have to feel bad about it being a little hectic. By all means, try to make sure your kids are completely squirrelly, but accept the invite if you can.

– Start asking family to visit you. It really can be a lot to take 8-12 people into someone else’s home. It can be a lot to take one toddler into the home of someone without kids. But instead of just skipping out on family stuff, ask them to come to you. It is easier to fold a few extra people into a big table than a lot of people into a small one.

– Reach out to other parents you might know and work out moms and dads nights out. Let all the dads hang with the kids at one person’s house while all the moms crash another. Then next time, repay the favor.

– Meet up with friends in public places to eat. Take the pressure off anyone feeling the need to host a large crowd. It can be expensive to take a large family out to eat. It can be stressful, especially if you never do it. But kids typically learn good eating out manners by having the opportunity to develop them by eating out. Consider hitting up a pizza place where you can buy a few large pizzas instead of somewhere where you order a meal per person. Or meet in a park one afternoon with some coolers of ice cream.

You may have to get a little more creative about gatherings and you may have to put aside some hurt feelings over why people don’t want you to come over anymore. But you can still create an awesome community and you don’t have to be lonely.

Another issue a lot of large families face is feeling weird. You perpetually feel like you don’t fit and like you don’t belong. Here are some tips:

– Your family is large. Intentionally, unintentionally on your part, God gave you this family. There is no changing it, only accepting it. You need top accept your family and not feel embarrassed about who you are. I know a lot of large family parents who are perpetually embarrassed about being a large family for one reason or another. This just makes you feel so much worse when the random stranger makes a heartless comment or when a family member passive aggressively slights your family.

– Be proud of your family. Go beyond just accepting it. Rework your inner narrative and be proud of the family God gave you. Embrace and celebrate what makes you different.

– Make new friends. I actually give this advice pretty often. When you feel bad about your life because of the people around you, it usually isn’t time to change your life, but change your friends. Make friends with other large families or at least people who respect your family. When you have six kids, you won’t feel weird at all if you hang with moms who have eight.

– Accept that your family is different in the best way and stop trying to fit the 1.5 kid mold of our culture. There are restaurants I won’t visit, not because I don’t like the food, but because the environment isn’t conducive for a party of 9. There are things large families cannot do and it is easier and happier to just accept those things than continually try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Family memberships that only include 4 children are never going to be for us. Baseball teams that schedule something every single night of the week are never going to work when we’re balancing schedules for 9 people. Large families come with our own benefits. You can have an entire ball team with just your family. You don’t need anyone to come over to have the best game of hide and seek ever. You can get a group discount without begging another single person to join you. Embrace the benefits. Shake off the small family mold.

– Surround yourself with things that encourage you. Listen to podcasts that help you embrace your role as a parent of many. Read blogs and books that encourage you in your role. Follow other large family moms on Instagram. Link up with others like you around the country on Facebook. Use social media to help encourage you. Make it a point to surround yourself with encouragement for your journey, not someone else’s.

– Our God does not put any shame on your family. Any shame or guilt you feel about your family is not of God. Reject it. Stomp it under your feet in Jesus’ name! Our God says children are a blessing. Our God says you are blessed. Our God says be fruitful and multiply and you have obeyed. The shame and guilt of this world is not from our God. Put that mess behind you. “Get behind me Satan!” Know who you are in Him and know how blessed your family is to Him.

– Don’t get a chip on your shoulder about your family. Be proud in who you are without turning that around as judgement on others. Some families are smaller and that doesn’t make them less that you, just different. Take from that well of grace you’ve been given and show the same. Too often our security in our own life turns and judges others for not being like us. We cloth diaper, so everyone should. We grind our own wheat for bread, so everyone should. We have ten kids, so everyone should. Be as accepting of other families as you hope they are of you. Judgy people are miserable. Don’t be miserable. Be confident in yourself. And love others.

Then there are the practical considerations. The idea that your house must run in a certain way because you are a large family. You read large family books and the main portions are about organization and you feel, well, completely unorganized.

– Know that the authors of all the large family books are not trying to shame you for being a hot mess mama with a lot of kids. There is this perception that all large family moms are these super organized women who run the house like a well oiled machine. Then we feel guilt and shame because we don’t measure up. These women had no intention of shaming you. I mean, I don’t know them personally, but I’m thinking the best of them here. They are sharing their systems to try to help a mama out. They found what works for them and they just want to share it in case it helps you out, too. If it doesn’t help you, don’t do it!

– The best system is the one that works. We all know large families do require a little more thought about the average family because that is just the way life works when you’re adding more little cogs to the works. You’ve got more plates to keep spinning, so you’ve got to figure out how they spin. I don’t think this applies specifically to large families. I remember the first few times I had to venture out in public on my own with two babies. Even something as simple as how to get out of the car and into the car had to be a well thought out process. Who goes in first? Can I leave that one in the car while I walk around to the other side? If I take him out and put him in the stroller, then I’ll have to turn my back on the stroller to get her out but if I take her out first, I’ll have the same problem in reverse. I think parenting just takes a little more thought and the more kids you add to the mix, the more complex things tend to get. You do you, though.

– Be willing to adjust. You find the perfect laundry system and it works beautifully for about 7 months and then suddenly, it just isn’t working. And I know you bought 16 color coded laundry baskets. But if adjustments need to be made, adjust. You don’t have to rework the entire system (preaching to myself here), but you can make changes to make it work. And know, you’ve got about 7 months of bliss while it works and then you’ll be back here again.

– Your version of organized may not look like someone else’s. It is fine. You do you.

– You can’t change your family or the personal dynamic of your family, so when setting up systems for the flow of the household, keep in mind you can’t change the people in the household. If your toddler keeps reaching for the same vase over and over again, it can be tempting to try and change the toddler instead of just moving the vase. You know what is important to you in terms of character building and boundaries with your kids, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about trying to change my kids into someone they are not to make a system work. My kids do not wash clothes. I am super anal about how certain items are washed and on what settings. I’m really picky about the order of importance of things washed. So, I don’t have them wash clothes because they can’t be me in washing them. Instead of trying to change them into little versions of myself about washing clothes, I choose to set up the system so I do all the washing. (They put them away and I choose not to look at how they end up in the drawers.) That is what works for us for now. Just keep in mind that you can change your systems, but not your people.

– Know your priorities. Your priorities might look a lot different than mine. But know what they are so you can live as intentionally as possible. The more people you put in a family, the more opportunities there are for things to take your resources. There is only so much time in a day. There is only so much money in your bank account. Knowing your priorities will help you say “yes” to the things that matter to you enthusiastically and “no” to all the rest without guilt.

– Embrace Costco. Or Sam’s. Or BJ’s. Or whatever buy in bulk place you have near you. I did not want to go that route for so long, thinking, “Who needs a flat of toilet paper?” The answer, of course, is that I do. I need a flat of toilet paper. Now, some things are not cheaper in bulk, but many things are. I don’t know what I would do without bulk string cheese now. Embrace it. These places are made for you. When you start noticing how few Pop Tarts come in a box, time to start thinking about that Costco membership.

What advice do you have for large families? Leave it in the comments!

Lent 2018

If you’re looking for my annual Lent family devotions, they are in book form this year! I was coming up with a way to make the family devotional more user-friendly. Scrolling through an entire week of blog posts is a bit messy. It is free, but it is messy. Then, I had this idea to add a personal devotional for moms to the front. In pitching the idea to The Pastor, we kind of thought, “Why just moms?” So, I enlisted his help in getting both a full 40-day devotional for all people and a 40-day family devotional written. We then put it on Kindle for ease-of-use. (It is also available in paperback if you’re not a digital person.)

The entire thing is really cohesive: The personal devotions and family devotions tie into each other, so you’ll all be walking the same spiritual path together. And as usual, the family devotional includes activities to do! Fun!

The theme of this year’s Lenten devotional is Refocus. Lent is a great time to look over everything and evaluate if you’re living the way you think you should be living. “Does my life reflect Christ?” It’ll challenge you to reevaluate where you put your time and money. It will ask you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments. Basically, it is going to step all over your toes and probably make you uncomfortable and you might even hate me for it. Or… you might refocus your life on the cross and do big Jesus-work this coming year. I think it’s worth the risk.

If you want a free devotional, all my previous years of Lent family devotions are still available here on the blog. Since Lent is always 40 days, always starting on Ash Wednesday and always ending on Easter, any of these can be used any year.

Lent Family Devotional 2017 – This family devotional looks into the life and ministry of Jesus.

40 Holy People – This is a Lenten devotional looking at the lives of those who have followed Christ with great courage and wisdom.

Fruit of the Spirit Family Devotional – This is not a Lenten devotional, but you can use it during Lent if you’d like. It is 9 weeks, so it is a little longer than Lent.

Click here to buy this year’s Lent devotional on Amazon.  My hope and prayer is for families to come together around a table and talk about Jesus. So, whatever you chose to do this Lent, be it using Refocus, using one of the free devotions on my blog, using another devotional book, or just reading through a book of the Bible together after dinner— make sure that you don’t miss Jesus during this season. Let the season bring you closer to Him and closer to your family.

2017-2018 at Godbold Academy

I’m finally mostly planned out for this coming school year. I usually don’t do quite so much pre-planning, but I’m having a baby late October/early November, so I figured I should plan out all I could in advance. A couple new things for us this year: First, I planned in terms instead of just all year. 5 terms total. Three 12 weeks terms, an Advent term, and then a summer term. The kids have been begging me for a more traditional summer, so I have taken their request and we made a compromise. (We usually do year round school.) They will still be completing their third term after the local schools get out. But then they get an actual summer term, which will mostly just consist of each of them having a required reading list. The other new to us thing is the Morning Basket. It is a Charlotte Mason homeschooler thing, but I have adapted it a bit for our more classical methods. More about that if you click the Morning Basket link below.

I did look into switching from The Well Trained Mind to Ambelside this year. I love a lot of things about Ambelside, but ultimately felt The Well Trained Mind is still a better fit for our family. I did look over the Ambelside reading lists for the corresponding years of history and picked a few of those suggestions that I thought might be a good fit for my crew. The Well Trained Mind is really adaptable on a child by child, family by family basis. You have a wide variety of ways the method is really done and worked out in families. We’ve used it from the beginning of our homeschool journey. (This is our 8th homeschooling year.) I’m always tempted by other things, but ultimately decide every year to stick with The Well Trained Mind. It just fits us best.

This year, I am homeschooling 5 kids. One of those is an optional one who is currently opting in. (“School” in our house is optional until you are 6 years old.) Grade levels also get a little mixed when you’re talking about homeschool, especially when you’re not just using a box curriculum. Kids tend to move at their own pace and advance quicker in some areas than others. I kind of average out their level and that is what grade the kid says they are in, since “What grade are you in?” Isn’t usually meant to be answered with, “Well, I have the vocabulary of a high school sophomore, but in math, I’m around grade 6. In literature, we read higher level books than our ages would suggest. And in Grammar, I am on grade level.” People usually expect something more like, “I’m a sixth grader.” Believe me, getting testing scores back for homeschoolers learning in non-traditional methods is quite amusing as they may very well likely place in every single grade in something. But on the average, this year I have a preschooler, a first grader, a fourth grader, and two sixth graders.

This year should prove to be a bit of a challenge for each of them as I am realizing they can do some pretty hard things. They are typically limited by the challenges, or lack there of, that I give them. We are not doing Latin this year, though that is a typical classical homeschooler subject. We are incorporating it a little in their vocabulary studies. We are also leaving out handwriting for the time being. They have a lot of writing to do, so I am not too convinced a full handwriting course is really necessary this year. If I change my mind, I can always add it in for Term 2 or 3 or even the Summer Term.

To save us from an infinitely long post, click on the links to the individual parts of our school year below.

Morning Basket

First Grade

Fourth Grade

Sixth Grade

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Sixth Grade Curriculum 17/18

These two are doing most of their work outside of the Morning Basket time on their own. They are much more capable of getting things done without my help these day. I write their work to be done in their planners and they check it off as they go. They have weekly and daily assignments to complete each week.

Math

Teaching Textbooks 6

Literature

Pinocchio

Treasure Island

The Secret Garden

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (The Bargain Book A Treasury of Fairy Tales from Barnes and Noble does have this story included.)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales Selections

A Little Princess

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Robinson Crusoe

Rip Van Winkle

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Bambi

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Gone Away Lake

The Beggar’s Bible

The Wind in the Willows

For each book read, they will have to write a brief book report including information about the author and intended audience, setting information, why they think the book was written, and what they thought of the book. They will also have to write a character list for each book they read. They also have 30 minutes a day of additional reading time, but they can choose any book they like for that time and they only have to keep a list of what they have read. One will likely choose Goosebumps every day. The other will likely choose Harry Potter or Hunger Games.

History

You Wouldn’t Want to be Sick in the 16th Century

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Sign of The Beaver

Calico Captive

George Washington’s World

Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution

Amos Fortune, Free Man

Who Was Davy Crockett?

In addition to the Morning Basket History and the additional history reading, each week this age group has a few tasks to complete. They have to write the significant information on their timeline. They also have to look up the appropriate section we are covering in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and write an outline for the information they read. They also have to find the locations we cover in the Atlas and then also find them in their Geography Coloring Book and color the pertinent areas. This is pretty much the way The Well Trained Mind lays out history for this age. We are using The Story of The World 3 Activity Book to help line up the Kingfisher readings with our Story of the World readings.

Science

Who Was Galileo?

Ocean of Truth

In addition to the Morning Basket Science and their Science reading, they have to choose a topic related to our science work that week, research it, and then write one to two pages on the topic.

Critical Thinking

We’ll be covering one chapter each week in the book Fallacy Detective.

Grammar

Selected assignments in Writer’s in Residence. They used this last year and didn’t finish it, so they are working on finishing it up this year. I still don’t like it as a whole, so I’m just picking out the parts I want them to read and the assignments I want them to complete.

Easy Grammar 6

Word Roots Level 1

Bible

In addition to our group Bible study and family devotions, they are doing Walking In Peace on their own.

Music

These two are also learning to play an instrument this year. One has chosen the violin, the other is still deciding.

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*** Most classics are cheapest on Amazon. Puffin is one of my favorite publishers. However, I love Barnes and Noble hardback classics. Take your declaration of intent or homeschool ID to your local Barnes and Noble for an Educator’s Discount Card, which will save you 20% on books!***