Sunday, November 16, 2008

Progressivism - A philosophy

This 8-wk. unit, I'm studying philosophy and education. One of these classes I'm just loving! The other..... well, not so much. ;) A funny thing happened this week when the two mixed! We studied and developed our own philosophy of education. Here's what I posted this week on my class discussion board:


I was surprised to see that the educational philosophy that is most closely related to mine is progressivism, the fad philosophy that is severely criticized. I never would have guessed it. The other homeschool moms in my area do lovingly call me a rebel, but I still haven’t figured out exactly why!

What speaks to me from this philosophy is the emphasis on activity-oriented and learner-directed education. Those are two topics that are near and dear to my heart. I believe that a child can learn so much more by experiencing a concept rather than listening to a lecture or doing worksheets. For instance, one day the lesson plans for my 2nd grade son's math lesson called for counting the coins printed on the worksheet while listening quietly to the teacher explain the concept and value of money. Instead of this, my son got to experience math concepts by getting a handful of change and pretending to purchase items for a specific amount of money while learning about money concepts. He added, subtracted, and reviewed the value of the different coins. Obviously, it is more enjoyable to play with real money. However, I believe his experience with real things enabled him to truly understand what he was being taught. I’ve seen children yawn during history lessons but be able to give detailed descriptions of historical events and people they read about in a thrilling biography. I’ve seen a child completely overwhelmed at the thought of writing, start writing notes on a book he was reading because he didn’t want to forget anything. The same student later easily wrote an instructional report on how to play a new game because he enjoyed the topic he was writing about and learned writing skills in an environment that encouraged his ability instead of devastating his self esteem and just requiring that he "do what is required." I could include many more examples and write a book with all that is in my heart on this topic. Important academic skills need to be learned, but I just don’t believe they can truly be learned by half-listening to mind numbing lectures that don’t engage the child. Draw your students in! Make them “want” to know what they need to know.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - Favorite snacks

Honestly, mine isn't the healthiest list in the bunch, but this is what we eat for snack. Sometimes, I think I hear "Can I have a snack?" all day long!!! It helps to be prepared and already have something that I can just point to, because you KNOW they ask for a snack when I'm on the phone or in the middle of a great big project!! I can't be the only one!!

Kid's Favorites
  • Yogurt
  • Cereal
  • Popcorn
  • Apples
  • Homemade Muffins
  • Cheese
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Cinnamon Toast

Mom's Favorites

  • Pretzel Braids
  • Chex Mix
  • Granola Bars
  • Grapes
  • Muffins
  • Nuts

Lessons Learned from Ma Ingalls

For breakfast there were pancakes, and Ma made a pancake man for each one of the children. Ma called each one in turn to bring her plate, and each could stand by the stove and watch, while with the spoonful of batter Ma put on the arms and the legs and the head. It was exciting to watch her turn the whole little man over, quickly and carefully, on a hot griddle. When it was done, she put it smoking hot on the plate. ~Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Do you think Ma Ingalls didn't have anything more pressing to do? She had some serious chores to do. When it was laundry day, she didn't switch the washer and dryer. When she baked, she baked for the entire week. Lots and lots of hard work had to be done. Still, she took the time to make pancake men for her girls that day.

My boys were fascinated with the idea of a pancake man. We have pancakes often but never in a shape other than round. Today, that changed. I whipped up their favorite pancake batter and got the griddle nice and hot. When I called the boys to the kitchen to see, they came running. I put a circle of batter down on the hot pan, then managed to make a head, arms, and legs for the little man. Nervously, I flipped the pancake man over..... YES!! He made it in one piece!!

Ma Ingalls just really inspired me that no matter what all you have to check off your to do list, there is still time for the little details that make life a treat for those around us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Erica's Chore Charts

My friend Erica posted these adorable pictures of the
chore charts she made for her kids.
I haven't seen anything as detailed and cute for chores!!

Here's a close up look.

Just wanted to share Erica's neato-crafty boards.
Looks motivating to me!
I would sure want all my rings on the smiley face! :)

John Tesh Concert

You mean, I never uploaded pictures of my special Day??

Robby took me to see John Tesh live in concert.

On the FRONT ROW!!!!

I had such an amazing time!

Several times I was moved to tears and just SO happy to be there. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cooking Class

The boys ask to cook ALL THE TIME. They are so curious about the ways of the kitchen. To satisfy their need for cooking experience, I decided to have "Cooking Class" one day a week, usually on a Monday.

I snapped pictures of them making these mini English muffin pizzas. My mother let me make these on Saturdays when I was quite young, and it is one of my most special memories with her. These are easy for the kids to do AND easy for mom because it's not that messy.
  • Just split the english muffins on a cookie sheet.
  • Let them spoon tomato sauce on it.
  • Then sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Ry likes to add pepperoni to his, so I always keep some on hand.
  • Pop them in the oven (350 - 400) and cook til the cheese melts.

Do random questions frustrate you?

My older son, Ry 11, always asks questions. Lots of questions. Most of these questions I do not know the answers to. Honestly, sometimes it's frustrating when we're talking about ocean currents and he asks how the remote control makes the DVD player work. Usually, I tell him that he can look it up after we finish our daily lessons. I KNOW that's not the right answer, but he really throws me off, and I don't always respond well. I've been thinking about it a lot though, and decided to be more open-minded about his random questions.

Today, while practicing handwriting, Ry asks how the lead gets put into the pencil. Will it surprise you that I didn't know the answer to that question? Immediately, I grabbed the dry-erase marker and wrote his question in his own words on the board. Then I told him that he needed to have the answer to that question by the end of the day. He had it done before lunch.

Then he made a notebook page to record his research:

What's Your Favorite Nut?

The boys called their friends and family to ask them what their favorite nut is.
We used this information to create a vertical bar graph. :)
They had never heard of a pistachio before!

The Results:
Pecans - 7
Peanuts - 5
Almonds - 2
Cashews - 6
Pistachios - 1
Walnuts - 2

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs ~ Something New

Planning your homeschool is a lot of fun, especially if you’re going to be trying something new. Just like finding a shiny new penny you’re excited to use it. Mother Dear has been planning some new curriculum for us, and I am plenty excited to get started on it. This week I hope you’ll share something new you’re using, why you’ve decided to use it, and if you have used it how you like it. Make sure to include the publishing information and where you got it from so others can look into if they like.
I've used a box curriculum for years. I like it, for the most part, and I'm used to teaching it and planning it. Last year, I stepped out of my box and used Apologia elementary science, and the boys and I both just loved it. This year, I looked into other options for Language Arts and decided to try Learning Language Arts through Literature with my 6th grade son. It has short easy lessons that we find interesting and engaging. This curriculum uses real literature passages to teach parts of speech, prefixes, suffixes, dictionary uses, literary terms, etc. All in non-boring fashion. What more could you ask for?? My son and I are both thrilled with it. We purchased Learning Language Arts through Literature (Teacher and Student Books) at a local homeschool store. It is published by Common Sense Press.
Another NEW for us this year, isn't exactly curriculum choice but a journey. Along with homeschooling, mothering, and many other shoes I wear I add college classes to my schedule. It will be a challenge to find how to concentrate on Biology and Philosophy while keeping the family and our responsibilities going. All prayers will be extremely appreciated!! Since I am led to this journey through the Holy Spirit's leading, I feel confident that He has a plan and will not let me fail.

House Rule

The house rule is NO SCHOOL on Birthdays!! That's just how it is around here. And believe me, we fiercely stick by that rule!!
Tomorrow (Friday) is my birthday. I'll be a whopping 35 years old, and we're having a party with our friends on Saturday to celebrate.
My very clever children catch wind of this "party" and develop a plan. They start telling me this morning how they would much rather help me clean the house to get ready for the party than to do their school work.
*GASP!!* What???!?? Clean the house? I say, "Sure, I bet you would!" Then we get started on our day.
While we're working on our handwriting and doing our math, the thought keeps jumping into my mind "HELLO!! They WANT to help you clean the house. How can you turn that down??" I finally give in and tell them to finish up what they're working on right then and that will be it for the day IF they help me like they said they would.
I'm blown away really by their efforts and good attitude. With a joyful spirit they vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, and helped put stuff away. To me, this was SO worth a half day's lessons.

Thankful Thursday

With a very full and thankful heart, I'd like to express my thanks double-fold.

Before church last night I got to visit briefly with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. We only had a few short minutes to talk. During the course of asking how we had been and what we had been up to, she asked me about my classes. I gave her a few of the details and mentioned that I was really nervous. So nervous, in fact, that I was struggling to keep the nerves below "terrified." She let me know she would lift me up in prayer specifically about that, and I was so touched!! I love it. Then, she reminded me that while God wants to and will take care of me and this situation, that I need to CLAIM His promises and love. Don't just sit there and hope God does something for me, but ask Him and claim it!! Thank you, Lord, for sending Margaret last night!!

My next HUGE thanks goes to my unbelievably sweet husband, Robby. He is taking me to a concert tomorrow night for my birthday. He writes about what it means to him at his blog I'm so blessed by my friends and family.

Visit more Thankful Thursday blogs by visiting

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zoology 2

This year's science text is
Apologia's Zoology 2: Exploring Creation Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day.
Last year we did Astronomy with both boys, but B. just isn't interested in the subject this year. Ocean animals is right up Ry's alley (11). I'm not sure I've seen him this interested in a subject before. He reads the Apologia text, tells me about what he learned (narration, but he thinks he's "teaching" me!), then one or two days per week he notebooks the information. I let him choose which notebook pages he wanted to use, then he illustrates or adds photos and writes down his description of the topic. Neither of us are "good" at illustrations so excuse us!! But don't tell him I said so, because I tell him he does WONDERFULLY!
We do try and have fun doing it without stressing about it being perfect.

The guy floating in the water there is supposed to be the diver in the book's picture. The pink thing that looks like a water bag is a strawberry sponge.

Like I said, we TRY!! And we LEARN!!

You can find LOTS of notebooking pages at

All about the markerboard

We counted up how many stuffed animals that B. has.
WOW!! That's quite a bit.
Made for a fun bar graph on the markerboard.

Peek into our school room

We do our school work in the dining room mostly.
We've set up "shop" in there with our desks, computer, bookcases, and supplies.
Recently, I pulled up the carpet revealing this lovely hardwood floor.

Moving the computer desk AWAY from where we do our main academics
helps keep the distractions down.

Adding another bookcase helps keep our books and supplies handy but tidy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Summer of Goodness!

One afternoon while mixing up brownies with B. he asked to lick the spoon afterwards. Mmmm, that rich, chocolatey, gooey batter looked absolutely delightful. He took one lick and proclaimed it the "Spoon of Goodness!"

We've had lots of summer fun! Just this week I've allowed myself to start planning for fall lessons. Usually, we are looking forward to school to start up again after a long, lazy summer. This time, though, we aren't quite ready to let these days of family fun and bonding go. I need to find a way to carry over into our school days the closeness and fun that naturally come out of our "play."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Countdown to Summer Fun

For this homeschooling family, summer break means staying up late and sleeping late in the mornings. It also means not having "lessons" during the day time. The boys are ready to jump out of their skin with anticipation of "no school work!!" as they put it.

However, after two days of non-stop video games and computer time they get a little burned out and start wandering the house with the universal whine "I'm bored."

The boys came up with a few ideas, and I realized that I had to keep myself from rolling my eyes at their suggestions. Pretty good ideas, actually!! What was wrong with me?? They got so excited about some of their ideas that they insisted on starting TODAY. I had to get over what I already wanted to do and help provide an outlet for them, too. I'll let you see pics of their play and All About Me pages they made on a later post. The video of their play is taking all day to upload.... UGH!

Instead of our usual "winging it," we came up with a few things to keep in mind when the boredom sets in. Here are a few ideas we came up with:

Performing a play or puppet show.

Learning a new song

Reading the next book in our current book series: Kingdom series and Narnia series

Making notebook pages and coloring pages about those books or anything else that interests us

Writing a book - short story or picture book (both are fun!!)

Taking pictures

Making home videos

Having "knight" training
Castle play
Dress up

Water painting

Sidewalk chalk

Board games

Nature walks (on those semi-cool days)

Trip to the park

Swimming at the community pool

This is all we could come up with so far. Maybe it will get us through!! Stay tuned for more. *L*

3 Bears by Ry and B.

This morning we were brainstorming for activities to do during the long summer months of "nothing to do." They thought of doing a puppet show or a play. They liked the idea so well, they had to do it RIGHT NOW!! It's a combination puppet show/play. :) Maybe you'll recognize the story. This is their first one, and it was funny to see them giving each other directions, and B. even telling us to pause so he could get the mail!

Moving Day for the caterpillars

B.'s caterpillars finally made their chrysalides. He got the Live Butterfly Garden for his birthday. Today he excitedly brought me the little cup the caterpillars came in and showed me they were ready to move into their new house! We pinned them into the top of the little mesh butterfly house. Now we wait for them to break out of their cocoon. Even I'm excited to see this transformation. This is so cool!!

No, that's not a "peace" sign.
He's giving it "bunny ears" for the picture!!!

A close-up of the chrysalides pinned to the top.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Girl Time

Just wanted to give a big cyber hug to my buddy Amanda.
We've started making special time for us to get together and chat, usually after church on Wednesday nights, about once a month. It's really awesome. Sometimes we get serious and talk about the issues in our lives, sometimes we talk about the latest sales. Either way, having some girl time can really perk me up and keep me going. Oh, and thanks to Starbucks for letting us close out the place tonight! ;)

Spring Cleaning?

In the midst of gardening, homeschooling, and keeping up with every day life I've noticed some things around the house that really, REALLY need a good cleaning. Windows, window sills, carpets... all need to be scrubbed up. When do you make time to fit it all in?? (The all-time rhetorical question.) With several people coming over this weekend for B's birthday party and a special visitor coming to visit the following week, all the areas that I always overlook seem to be glaring at me! YIKES!

I'm searching for spring cleaning ideas online, not for what I need to do but mostly for inspiration.... something that says I can do it!! Anybody else out there spring cleaning? *cheers*

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Enjoying hydrangeas

I love the pink hydrangea my secret sister got for me.
It looks so sweet next to my garden fairy on my front porch!
I've spotted this little guy enjoying my new plant, too, several times.

City Momma, Nature Lover

The Lord has brought me a wonderful newfound love of nature! My boys were so like me in that area. Any time we saw a bug, we would run! I realized what it was doing to my kids and have made a genuine effort to be more nature friendly. We've been gardening like crazy, and I'm thrilled that the boys come outside and help me, or just dig in the dirt, or even just hang out with me outdoors. It's a great time, since it will be sizzlin' hot soon.

Yesterday, B. (6) and I had an awesome moment while I was pulling weeds. He saw a worm in the dirt. No, he didn't squeal or get squeemish, like usual. He said, "Look, Mom! A worm." Then he surprised my socks off by saying, "Can I touch it?" So he touched it and we talked about how slippery he was, and when the worm moved about we pretended like he was tickled when we touched him. I was seriously amazed at how far this city momma and her sons have transformed into nature lovers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Milk Carton Bird Feeder

Today, my awesome DH started picking up some stuff and putting it in the trash for the boys to take out to the street for pick up. I thought, "How sweet!" Then, I saw an old milk carton that I'd been saving for a while go into the trash. gasp! Not my milk carton! I told him I've been saving that to make a bird feeder with the kids. In his defense, it has been sitting around for two weeks.

I decided the time is now to make that bird feeder!! The weather was unbelievably beautiful outside today, so I grabbed B. (6) to help me. Here's what we did:

1. You need a cardboard milk carton. Trace a template onto the front and back, then cut out. Don't forget to do both sides! :)

2. Make a hole about an inch or two below the opening. Put a stick or dowel through the holes to make your little perch.

3. Next, make a hole in the top of the carton, then string yarn or wire through the hole.

4. Fill up the bottom of the carton with bird seed.

5. Hang it in a tree or wherever you find that birds can use it! Stay close and enjoy seeing the birds that come to your yard!

If you've done this project or end up making one, let me know! I'd love to see your post or pics!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today, my heart is bursting with thankfulness mostly to my God for loving us, leading us, and providing for us in every way.

Also, I'm unbelievably grateful for the group of guys from our church family that got together and came to our house to help us with our yard work. Some of you know that my sweet husband is disabled, in a wheelchair, and simply cannot do things like work in the yard that he wishes he could do. There were 30 trees in my small backyard. Nothing would grow back there because it was completely shaded, even grass wouldn't grow. I wanted to grow a garden in my shady backyard, but had given up hope of getting all those trees down. A whole group of friends showed up with their chainsaws and willing hands and made quick work of my yard! WOW!! I'm so thankful!! I pray that God blesses those people even more than they have blessed me. Thank you so much, Lord, for providing for me and my family.

Thanks, Guys!!! You're awesome!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's in the BAG!

My newest sewing hobby has been making bags. I picked up a pattern for handbags, but decided I needed something a little larger probably. I tried enlarging all of the pieces, and now I can make them any size we need! The boys needed a bag to have all of their Patch the Pirate stuff in to take to church every week, so I started with theirs first.

Ry likes the cool flames, so his is done blue on the outside and orange on the inside lining

B. picked out Veggie Tales for his bag.

Then I made one to be a door prize at a Ladies' Mtg. I hosted last month, but I can't find the pic!

Here's one I made large enough to carry scrapbooks. The bright colors just jumped out at me in the store and said this will make a cute tote.

And finally, this is a bag I made for my sweet little nephew's birthday.

I also made a Thomas blanket and pillow that fit inside it.

I just love tote bags! I carry all of our stuff to church in them, books and videos to the library, all kinds of "necessary" things on trips like camera, snacks, extra batteries, magazines, goodness SO many things to carry!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Break with my parents

My parents came to visit us on their spring break. They were here for 3 days and brought along my lovely little niece. She's precious, and I don't get to see her often. The first day rained and rained, but the next day we had beautiful weather. We all went to the Caldwell Zoo and had a terrific time!! Here are some pics of our trip.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ancient Sheets.... I mean Greeks

When we finished up our chapter on Ancient Greeks, we decided it would be fun to dress up to fit the part. We learned through our lessons that the clothing looked like a toga. We looked for sheets that would work, but B. insisted that he wear his Toy Story sheets! I KNOW it could have looked a little better, but it's such a sweet memory and kind of funny to think of trying to make a Toy Story sheet look ancient. Thankfully, we were going for fun instead of perfection.

Quick trip to Jacksonville

Wednesday, my sweet hubby was invited to speak during chapel at Jacksonville Baptist College here in East TX. The boys and I decided to keep him company on his 2 hr. trip. Ry (11) was excited to see a college campus and took several pictures, got a chance to speak with several of the professors, and brought home a t-shirt. On the way home, we pulled over at "Love's Lookout," a little overlook out at the hills in the area. It was really beautiful. Here are some pics!
Ry and B. at Love's Lookout

Ry took this pic of me at Love's Lookout.

I thought he did a great job!

We had a neat time and enjoyed the break from our regular school days.