For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Vacation Pics Part 1

Daytona Beach

Random at a restaurant on the road

Loved the mountains of NC

Friday, September 5, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

The Pebble PondA new school year has started and it is time to resume Random 5 on Friday as my way of summing up our week.

1. School got done 3 days this week, due to Monday being Labor Day here in Canada.I am pleased to report that our new school schedule held up, hooray!!! I mean not without any hiccup, but held nonetheless.

2. My parents offered me an iPad recently and the boys have been enjoying doing some educational activities on it. Zach's new French program, Duolingo, is done on it, and he is very happy with it. They've also enjoyed watching the free daily video from Brainpop.

3. We had a playdate on Thursday with a  new homeschooling Friend. Gym and swimming for the kids and good chatting for the moms. Don't I love those?

4. We've decided to do Transparency maps for our geography map work with Tapestry. This is going to be interesting. New territory for us.
Zach working on his base map of Ancient Egypt

5. We enjoyed our discussion of Tapestry accountability and thinking questions over dinner with daddy. We all enjoyed it. I figured this was a good way yo get dad involved in it and lessen the load on me.

Have a great week-end!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Planning Summer Series - Week 11 - Planning Our Homeschool Year

For our last post in the Summer Planning Series, we have Kemi Quinn talking to us about how she plans her homeschool year around her DVD curriculum.

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Planning Our Homeschool Around our DVD Curriculum

We’ve been using Bob Jones University Press DVD Homeschool program since our daughter was in preschool. We're getting ready to enter the 4th grade and through the years I’ve experimented with ways to fully use this great program while not overdoing it for the family. I say overdoing it because BJU Press makes sure you get a COMPLETE homeschool program for your child. They basically try to accommodate every learning style from visual to ESL and more. And make sure that anything you may need to overcome in teaching your child is addressed in the program. Phew! I think it took me two years before I realized I didn't HAVE to do everything. That I needed to take note of my daughter's learning style and customize her learning experience. I also noted how they said to combine the classes if you need to work the program a little faster.

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The BJU program is a KJV Bible based Christian curriculum and I think it’s worth every penny. It’s visually appealing, informational, and very effective. When I was first reviewing their catalog all the elements they said she would learn in preschool I guffawed and said “right!” I thought surely there was no way my teeny tiny peanut would learn all that in the space of one school year. Well she went on to learn that and more. Her reading and writing took off like a shot and she just keeps excelling. Math, a notoriously scary subject for most children, has given her a few anxious moments but the difficult items are always re-addressed later in the program and their summer worksheets help her to move into the next school year with ease. And yes momma has also learned plenty with this program. From science, to history, and even some grammar. It's two for one!

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But although I speak the wonders of this great homeschool program doing absolutely everything suggested in the Teacher’s Manual and in the order suggested can cause big burnout in my family. Remember I didn't realize I didn't have to do EVERYTHING! So now this is how I go about planning our homeschool year around the BJU press DVD homeschool program.
  • The absolute first thing I do is browse through the included Lesson Plan Guide as soon as our package arrives. This is a day by day course by course guide with basically everything you will need for each day’s class. I’ve worked through different ways of using this but as my daughter gets older the way to use this changes. In the beginning I would read the week’s lessons in advance and prepare all the materials Sunday night. This was because there was so much cutting and setting up for all kinds of crafts and whatnots. Now in the 3rd and 4th grade not so much. It’s more of maybe print an extra worksheet or add in a book also included in the package. or pull out the encyclopedias (which are all online now). So now when I read through the lesson plans it’s mostly to see how the day is organized. We actually take a very relaxed approach to the Bible lessons because my husband does those and is not always able to complete the year’s work. Since we also have Sunday school lessons from church and regular Bible study that our daughter attends along with morning devotions those lessons are more of something fun she does occasionally with dad.
  • Next, because we have a 4 day school week I merge some classes .
  • We start our school year on the same day as our school district. That’s because I need a method to my madness and it helps to keep me on track. After that our schedule doesn’t really stay on schedule with the local schools except for holidays.
  • Since I also do homeschool reviews another thing I may do is swap out our regular course with a program we need to review. Depending on how well it works out for us I may add it in as a supplement program throughout the rest of the year.
  • As we go through the school year I read about a month ahead to know what’s coming, what I may want to leave out or what I may want to add. 
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Do I write all this up? I keep two schedules in addition to the highly edited Teacher's Manual. First we post our daily schedule on the wall. My daughter likes to do this so I let her at it. Next I also keep track of our days in my planner. This lets me know where we're at so we can take vacations and such. Each year is a learning experience not only for our daughter but also for me. I’m learning how my daughter learns best. I’m learning not only how to manage our time but that I need to get better at it. And mostly I’m learning that I don’t have to follow a lesson plan to the letter to get the most out of it for our homeschool year. 

Kemi Quinn is a Christian, stay at home, homeschooling mom. Formerly of the library world until 2005 when she came home to care for the Sweet Peanut. Together with the Nicest Man on Earth she spends her days learning, playing the piano, cooking for and with her family , and making home a comforting place to be. She feels strongly about a clean home for family AND guests. But understands that this stuff is not intuitive for everyone, not necessarily easy, and not easy to find time for. Homemaking Organized is a place to find tips to keep the home fires burning.She blogs over at Homemaking Organized.

In This Series:
Week 1: Who Plans Homeschool?
Week 2: Planning an Eclectic Homeschool School Year Type A Style
Week 3: Planned Unshooling . . . Why?
Week 4: Meal Planning Made Easy
Week 5: Managing Your Home When You Have an Irregular Schedule 
Week 6: Block Scheduling in Your Homeschool


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Planning Series: Week 10 - Planning a Delight Directed Education

On our second to last week of the Summer Planning Series, Susan from Educating Today is delighted to share with you all how to plan a delight-directed education.

Oh, What a Delight  
5 Reasons Delight Directed Learning Helps Children to Focus

First, let’s start out by defining delight directed learning. (By the way, this is a great study skill to teach your kiddos.) Always know the definition of what you’re talking about, know what your terms mean, and make sure those you are talking to understand your meaning of the terms or ideas. Don’t take it for granted that they think the way you do.

Delight directed learning simply means, that as much as possible, your children’s education is built around their interests and delights rather than on generic textbooks, workbooks or a curriculum’s scope and sequence.

What delight directed learning is not:

  • Delight directed learning is not choosing a subject for your children and then letting them choose how they want to learn the subject by watching videos, doing workbooks, or assigning special readings for them to do.
  • It is not giving your child a choice of one or two courses from a certain curriculum you want them to use.

There are many reasons to center your children’s education around their interests and delights.

Today we’re going to talk about five of them.

1. Your children will focus on whatever they are interested in. Spend some time watching and observing what your children spend their free time doing. Do they have a special pet? Do they like to collect things? Do they like playing pretend adventures outdoors? What do they choose to read about?

Delight directed learning will also work great for junior high and high school students, too. Our family even did some delight directed studies together, but broke it up into different topics. We wanted to learn more about homesteading so one child chose to learn about our water supply by investigating water aquifers in the United States with a special concentration on Texas.

Our second child chose to study about animals on the homestead with a concentration on miniature cattle breeds.

My husband and I centered our study around gardening techniques, composting, double digging methods, and heirloom seed varieties.

About once a week we’d share our findings with each other which would spark other interests.
One son decided he’d like to learn about double digging gardening methods. Our other son said he wanted to learn more about animal shelters.

Other times, the children wanted to study a topic of their own. Some of their choices were learning about interesting and famous people (missionaries Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Goddard, Thomas Edison), model rocketry, rock collecting, knives, fishing equipment, survival skills, stamp collecting, etc. I bet you can tell by their topics of choice that we have sons. (Grin)

If your child can’t think of anything they would like to learn about, ask them to make a list of questions called “Things I Wonder About” or ask them to make a list of things they want to learn more about. If they’re not used to thinking about what they are really interested in learning about, it may take a little while for their curiosity to kick in.

2. Other subjects can be integrated into any delight directed study.
They will learn the vocabulary associated with their topic choice without you insisting that they have a vocabulary list.

They will learn the words, how to spell them, and what they mean just by reading, studying, building systems, designing display boards, and writing special reports to share with others. They will also learn the history, science, and geography related to their study, all because they need and want the information.

3. Delight directed learning will help them to focus on the details and at the same time, see the big scope of things.
Some children are great starters but they get stuck in the details so they have trouble following through. Other children can see the beginning and what they think the end will look like, but they have trouble breaking down the details.

By doing a delight directed learning project, they will be investigating something they really want to know about so they will want to know the details as well as following through as far as they want to go.

4. Your children can learn to use wonderful tools to document their learning which will also help to keep their attention.

There are so many tools available to help your children learn and organize their information. They can learn how to use PowerPoint to give presentations on what they’ve learned. They can write special reports, do audio reports, take pictures of their projects, plan their own notebooks, interview experts, or even write a Kindle book.

As they investigate their topic of interest, they will find other people who are also interested in the same topic. This is a great opportunity for learning how to interview experts by making an audio recording, a written report, or a blog post. For older students, they might start or join a local discussion group on their topic.

They also can develop a reading list of the title, author and date completed of books along with the documentaries/movies they want to see, a list of places they’d like to visit.

All of these tools help develop very useful learning objectives such as brainstorming, record keeping, list building, etc.

5. Delight directed learning will fuel your child’s passions and help them develop into life long learners.

That’s your goal, isn’t it. You want your children to be life long learners who love learning.

Some children will want to learn some information about a topic and then move on to another area of interest, and that’s okay. Some children will want to dig deeper and deeper into a topic and they won’t want to study anything else for a season, and that’s okay, too.

Your goal is NOT to teach them everything they will ever need to know by the time they graduate. Your goal is to teach them how to study, research, reason, and record what they’re learning and enjoy doing it. If they know how to study, then they can learn anything they want or need to and that’s a skill worth having.

So when you’re planning your lessons for the new school year, remember to include some curiosity time by letting your kiddos question and wonder about something they are really interested in.

Susan Mueller taught public and private school in her life before children and is a “veteran homeschool mom.” She and her husband homeschooled for more than 20 years from birth through graduation and have helped launch their children into adulthood and business.

Susan blogs at Educating Today where she offers encouragement and help to parents who want to instill in their children the Love of Learning for a lifetime. You can also find Susan on Facebook ( and Twitter ( .

In This Series:
Week 1: Who Plans Homeschool?
Week 2: Planning an Eclectic Homeschool School Year Type A Style
Week 3: Planned Unshooling . . . Why?
Week 4: Meal Planning Made Easy
Week 5: Managing Your Home When You Have an Irregular Schedule 
Week 6: Block Scheduling in Your Homeschool

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Planning Series - Week 9 - Steps to Planning the Year

Week 9 is here and we have Aurie Good from Our Good Life sharing  about Her Steps to Planning this year.

August is typically my least favorite month. We always go on vacation in the middle of the month, and when we return it seems that we've lost the end of summer and are trying to play catch up with September and all that comes with jumping back into routine. This year, I decided that I was going to get my planning done in May. 

Hah. May turned into June, and then July.....and you can see where this is going, right? It's August and I still didn't have anything concrete planned. Before my Type A persona kicked in and I started hyperventilating like I do every year, I took a breathe and followed these simple steps: 

1. I'm planning 4 weeks in advance. I'm not planning 6 months in advance. I always do, and when I don't meet my lofty goals I feel like a failure. Not this year! 

2. I'm setting aside dedicated planning time every Saturday afternoon. We are usually home on Saturday afternoons, so instead of panicking Sunday evening because I don't have anything prepared, I've already blocked out 20 minutes on our Google calendar for planning purposes - and I'm treating it like a doctor appointment so I don't skip it! 

3. I'm keeping it simple all the way around. I have pinterest boards filled with beautiful crafts, but I can't do them. I don't have the time or the money to go out and purchase more craft materials - especially when we have a huge stash here. We will have craft time each week (my girls will rebel if we don't!) but they will be simple and fun - and probably not pin-worthy......and I'm okay with that. 

 4. I'm going old school. We just stocked up on notebooks, pencils, crayons, and dry erase markers. I've downloaded a few lap-booking materials from CurrClick and I'm good to go. No flashy stuff for us this year - I still have a shelf filled with *must have* stuff from last year! 

5. I've decided that less is more. We are going to be hitting the basics and combining subjects when we can. We are using dry erase boards for spelling and reusing our old chalk easel for math practice. I've removed all those pretty homeschool room pictures I had pinned and am being thankful that I can homeschool my kids right where we are! 

6. I'm writing in pen. I've got field trips already planned and penned in, instead of forgetting or trying to go last minute. I've got play dates scheduled, trips to the library and LEGO club for Sophie. 

 Now everything is right in front of me, and there is NO excuse for me to miss it. {I hope!} Right now I'm actually excited for the year to begin - and I still have THREE weeks before we start! 

What planning tips would you share? 

339-001Aurie Good is a pastor's wife and a stay at home mom who home-schools on the go - since her family is always on the go. The Goods are licensed to foster medically fragile infants and children and have enjoyed loving the children who have been placed in their home. Currently they are foster parents to an adorable 1 year old boy who they are hoping to adopt. Aurie blogs at Our Good Life, where she shares their foster story (as much as she can) and strives to encourage all moms that they are not alone in this crazy insane work of motherhood. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram sharing snippets of life with little ones.

In This Series:
Week 1: Who Plans Homeschool?
Week 2: Planning an Eclectic Homeschool School Year Type A Style
Week 3: Planned Unshooling . . . Why?
Week 4: Meal Planning Made Easy
Week 5: Managing Your Home When You Have an Irregular Schedule 
Week 6: Block Scheduling in Your Homeschool


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop - Helpful resources Part 2

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
Yesterday I started listing some resources that I found to be helpful to me in my homechooling. Today I will be continuing my list .

1. CoolMath A site where your kids can lay math games

2. Worksheet Works  A great site to make any worksheets you need.

3.  Make Me Genius  Wonderful science site resource

4. Mr. Donn
Pack-full of resource site for every school subjects.

5. Books Should be Free  Audiobooks for free.

6. Brain Pop . A Membership site but well worth the cost, if you can afford it.

7. A Math Dictionary for Kids  A  resource where you can find vocabulary and chart posters

8. Extra Math  Practice for Math facts.

9. Duolingo Site for foreign language learning .

10. Ology  A science site where you can find all sort of wonderful resource to use in your science studies.

Hope you enjoy discovering this sites and are able to add them to your school line up.

Don't forget to visit the other blog participating.

Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Melanie @ finchnwren
Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop - Helpful Resources Part 1

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
On day two and three of the Back To School Blog Hop I would like to share with you some of my top educational sources and resources.

This is our 7th year of homeschooling and I can tell you that I have come across a lot of resources. I also gone back and forth from one resource to another as my kids grew. That said, there are some resources that remain places that I consistently use in my homeschool, and I would like to share them with you.

1. Currclick. Make sure to look for their free stuff and watch out for the sales!

2. Homeschoolshare

3. Enchanted Learning. This is a member site but you can find group buys that can allow you to get a membership for a really good price.

4. Pinterest. I search about everything in there

Follow Joelle's board Homeschool links on Pinterest.

5. My Facebook Groups. There are some really great Facebook groups out there, especially the ones for specific curriculum and the free resource ones. Again, use the search button to look for the ones that might be of help to you.

6. The Homeschool Curriculum Choice

7. You Tube. The search button is really helpful.

8. BBC school. I love this resource because they often have nice games and videos on some of the topics that we happen to be studying.

9. Book Adventure. I love using this site to gauge my boys' comprehension of some of the books they read.

10. The Library. I cannot stress how much I use my library. This is my number one  resource. It is packed with resources, and it is free. What else can I ask?

Come back tomorrow for more ressources.

 Don't forget to check others on the crew who are also blogging about Back to School this week.

Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Melanie @ finchnwren
Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School Tips - Homeschool Edition Blog Hop

It's back to school time in many places at this time of year. Summer is certainly rounding down here in Canada where we live, and many are gearing up for the start of the school year in a couple of weeks. As homeschoolers I dare think that back to school has different meaning according to who you speak to. However, I think that there are some concepts that apply across the board when it comes to homeschooling, and today I would like to look at some tips that can be helpful to us as we prepare to embark in a new year of homeschooling.

I have five tips to share with you:

1. Have a Plan. I know this is classic. That said, as classic and basic this is, it is another thing to actually have one. It takes time and thought to come up with a plan on how you are going implement all of these curriculum you purchased or all these dreams you dreamt of for your homeschooling year. Planners abound (I am a very good hoarder of online planners - even though I prefer a printed one), but it takes me a while to actually write down a definitive plan for the year. This year, because we are going back to a more year round homeschooling style, I have divided the year into 6-8 weeks semesters and have planned out our first semester. Planning year, in full or pieces by pieces, is crucial if you want your year to start on the right foot and to avoid being all over the place at the beginning of the school year and this in turn leading to your kids being unsettled. Having a general plan will help give your kids a sense of stability and security.

2. Know what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Closely connected to #1 is the idea of being quite clear about what you want to accomplish this year. Some call it having a vision. You can think of it as goals as well. For me this takes the form of general milestones and goals to reach, such as :
  • Finish our curriculum
  • Help my oldest transition into Middle Grades
  • Have my oldest do more writing
  • Include more science in our school
  • Being more intentional in teaching my kids French

3. Don't expect things to run as expected or smoothly the first day, or even the first week. Give time for the routine to set in. This is a reality check. The first day or week may go as planned or may not. Unfortunately in a lot of cases it does not and if you expect it to, you may get quite discouraged after this first day, or disillusioned after the first week. Don't. It always takes time to get something going. Perseverance is one of these top qualities needed in homeschooling. We keep at it and do not despair. If after a while things do not improve, a change might be in order, but no matter what, we keep at it. The lord is always at work and something is being done.

4. Involve the kids in the decision and planning process. I have found this always enlightening to ask my kids their sentiment about our homeschooling. I get really interesting insights about how they feel about their homeschooling. I ask them questions such as, What do you like? What don't you like? What would want me to change? What can you improve on? It helps them own the process and be better participants. For the teacher it enlightens you as to how they perceive your teaching and what you are doing.

5. Pray. I kept this for last but this is THE important  tip. Prayer is the fuel for everything we do as Christian, not so much for the blessings, as for the guidance and the help of the Holy Spirit to do what God wants us to do. Whatever we do should never be about us but what God is accomplishing through us and in us. We are but instruments in his hands and we are being molded as well in the process.  So that is why we need to pray so that our mind would be in tune with what He is intending to do. What do we pray over?
  • over our plans: that the Lord's will be done.
  • over our kids: that they come to know him and that they be diligent in the task be before them.
  • over our heart, motives and attitudes: that we fulfill our calling with joy, thanksgiving and with a heart that desires to serve Him and our family.
Hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare or are starting this new school year.

What are your Back to School homeschooling tips?
Back to Homeschool Blog HopVisit some of the bloggers of the crew and read about what they have to say on the topic of Back To School:

Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Melanie @ finchnwren
Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio