Doing Your Best

Oh, for a normal week of school!

Oh, wait…what does that look like again? Last week, Harvey blasted its way through Texas. I just read an article on LinkedIn about a major earthquake in South America which is causing many aftershocks and possibly worse. And Irma is bearing down on Florida. The last update I saw still projected it to make landfall early Sunday morning.

We had four days of school both last week and this week because of Labor Day. I don’t mind the four-day work week but I’d really like to see what a normal school week is going to look like. Do you ever feel the same way?

Give it your best shot!

All we can do in any situation is give it our best or give up. I’m choosing the first option. I hoped to share our 11th grade literature list with you this week but it will have to wait until next week. I can tell you, though, that starting out with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was completely the right thing to do. And with that, I’ll see you all next week!

Quotes_Creator_20170907_111008

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A New School Year Begins!

As we begin the new year, I set up some new goals to help our home run smoothly. Writing as an indie author takes even more time than my part time job did. The difference is that I’m home with the girls. 

One of the things I did was to set up a fair schedule for household chores. We all take turns feeding the outdoor pets, taking out the trash, doing laundry, and washing dishes. Before, we tried simply taking care of the dishes as we used them. That flopped when we were super busy and running out the door right after a meal. The new method has been in place for two weeks now and seems to be working.

The chore method isn’t the only new thing this year. TheShi is working on Chemistry with Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum. She’s adjusting to the different learning style much better than our oldest did. 

Stay tuned for next week’s post on our literasure selections for the school year. I would like to share book reviews and our experiences with each as we finish them during the school year. It’s good to be back!

Poetry Writing Hacks: 7 Playful Ways To Create Poetry

What fun ideas! I’d like to incorporate some of the unfamiliar ones to our language arts courses this year.

Laura Grace Weldon

Spine poetry Spine poetry

I’m eager to liberate poetry from that stuffy good-for-you closet where it’s so often kept. That is, as long as I can do so playfully.

Each time I lead poetry-writing workshops I learn from students as young as eight years old. I see them write in a direct line from experience to meaning, use metaphor intuitively, and fiercely adore their own work. Our time together often looks like crafts or games, but it’s much more. We draw faces on peanut shells, glue them to cardboard, and write poems around them. We use bright permanent markers to adorn an old footstool or rocking chair with poems to make a classroom Inspiration Seat. We ask stones to tell us what they’ve seen over their long geologic history, then write down our impressions. We compose from the perspective of carrots as we bite, chew, and swallow them. We write on prayer…

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Wrapping It Up!

It’s that time of year again. I need to gather up all the loose ends and put the girls’ final grades together. The homeschool application once again waits for the blanks to be filled. This is probably my least favorite part of homeschooling in Louisiana. It always leads to stress and worries. I double-check everything before stuffing it all in the envelope but once it’s in the mail, I wonder.

  1. “Did I fill in all the blanks correctly?”
  2. “Did I forget one of the examples of their work?”

I could fill it in online…if I could figure out how the system works. That might save some of the stress. But I have yet to figure out how to load all the pdf files into an email that won’t overload my system. I imagine all the stress might be magnified this year since I’m officially an author now.

Summer School

I had originally planned to do dedicated summer school work. That idea has since been chucked out of the window. We’ll finish up what we’re working on and then stop for a summer break. This year has been harrowing in many ways and we all need the rest. Shi has chosen to continue her study of Latin and Advanced Algebra on her own while Ro is continuing in her math books. They have really matured a lot over the last year. Not only are they working hard on their education, they’ve taken on household chores without being asked. Shi has a summer job at Acadian Baptist Center which is going well so far. All these things are awesome examples of how they’ve grown and it makes me smile. When a child learns to love learning…

Happenings

While they are busy doing their summer things, I’ll be doing mine. School planning, book revisions, sewing lessons for a couple of friends, and a small writers workshop fill my to-do list. I’m looking forward to all of them! What do you look forward to in the summer months? Do you teach your students through the summer? If so, do you use a dedicated learning program, a Charlotte Mason Method type of learning, or something else? I’d love to hear from you.

Proverbs 9:9 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Give to a wise man, and he grows still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will learn still more.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Creative Commons License Fortium Memoriam by Melody R Kittles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Dreaming of Summer

When does the dreaming start for you? Personally, I live for autumn. But our girls eagerly look forward to those warm summer months when they can do more with their friends. Camp, sleep-overs, bonfires, fireworks, swimming, water balloons, making s’mores… You name a summer activity and it’s almost a sure bet they’ll be up for it. And they start dreaming of those days long before the traditional school year is finished.

Ah! How Fast They Grow!

Shi will be working this summer. She’s looking forward to it. Ro, on the other hand, is certain she’ll be bored out of her mind without her sister. So I’ve been brainstorming about different activities she might find interesting.

Summer Learning Fun

I have a few workbooks that teach science through fun experiments. I thought we might use some of those. I also like to tackle geography during the summer months. Studying different cultures keeps us interested in learning. You could check out these similar books on kitchen science at Amazon. Some of them look really interesting! If I can, I’ll be trying to update my own stash of books with a couple of these.

As for hands-on crafts and the like, our braided rug project is still going and probably will be for some time. We’ll work on that and look into some other types of crafts. Ro is also interested in electricity and tinkering so I’ll try to work in some projects that focus on those two things. My son, as well as my dad, have left enough odds and ends and bits lying around our property that might make interesting project starters.

What About You?

What kind of things do you do during the summer to keep your students busy and occupied? I’d love to hear from you.

My Apologies!

I’m sorry I skipped out last week. I’ve been putting my author website together. Being a dedicated author takes a lot of time, at least in the initial set-up online. No excuse, I suppose. I just need to get better at organizing my day…when I finally figure out what that entails. Feel free to check it out. I’ll be adding a subscribe button either today or tomorrow, depending on the quality of our internet signal. If you think you’d like to read about my writing journey, I’ll be posting there tomorrow.

So…

I do have something special for you guys today. It’s a free, downloadable wallpaper. Feel free to share it. All I ask is that you link back to this post or my deviantArt gallery when you do share. Thanks so much for reading!

Dreaming of Summer

“Dreaming of Summer” can be downloaded by right-clicking the image. You can also visit my gallery at http://artcreationist.deviantart.com/art/Dreaming-of-Summer-682577004 and download it without the copyright notice at the bottom. Whichever you decide, I simply ask that if you share it, you link back to this blog post or my deviant art page. Thanks so much!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

For everything there is a season,
a right time for every intention under heaven —

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Viewpoints and Perspective

Sounds like I’m going to post about art, eh? Not really. This post is about taking in the world around me — and about literature.

We began working our way through the book “Life of Pi” this month and I must confess a certain reluctance. I expected it to be just some story about the survival of man and animal. I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, especially since the movie trailer didn’t seem too inspiring. When TheRo picked this book to add to our reading list, I had no idea how much of a delight it would be to turn each page.

The Way I See It

What I find most intriguing is his interest in religion. His viewpoint and the way he perceives the world around him is so similar to my own, I find it truly amazing. And for some Christians, that’s probably a scary thought. No, I’m not rejecting what I know in my heart to be true. But I feel that truths are built upon experience which alters perspective. My vision of truth will differ from my neighbor’s. It makes giving my testimony and answering questions difficult. I overthink things, wonder how much to say, or whether I should say anything at all. I’m still filling in the blanks on my own viewpoint concerning religion, or in my case spirituality. I’ve already defined religion in pretty clear terms in my head. It’s really scary for me to share this with you. It’s almost like baring my soul. But what does that have to do with literature and homeschool?

In The Classroom

Back to the literature study, this is a great book to open discussions on worldview. When I was in high school, I took a worldview class during my senior year. I hated it. It was dry and boring. There was no life in it. I think since worldview is formed by experience, it’s better to find ways to incorporate the experiences of a variety of others to open discussions. For our family, and more specifically for me, worldview is born from a Christian upbringing. For my children, this will be similar. I’m enjoying the discussions about Piscine’s perspectives on the world around him.

“I don’t see why I can’t be all three. Mamaji has two passports. He’s Indian and French. Why can’t I be a Hindu, a Christian, and a Muslim?”Life of Pi by Yann Martel, ©2001 by Yann Martel

Help For A Daunting Task

Teaching about worldview can be daunting. If you’d like to read this book with your students and aren’t sure where to start for classroom discussions, you could try these websites. I’ve found them very helpful in jump-starting my own thoughts on a topic or book.

Matthew 7:7 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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A Good Start

What is your definition of “a good start” to the day? Is it a home-cooked farm-style breakfast? Is it a cup of coffee, some toast and a bit of quiet before the daily hustle and bustle begins? What about for your students? How do they describe what’s necessary to start the day well?

Our Good Start

For me, a good start includes:

  1. waking up between 8:00 and 8:30 am
  2. pouring myself a cup of coffee
  3. eating any kind of healthy breakfast food
  4. reading a morning devotional which is based on Bible scriptures
  5. and just lately, I’ve added in a short yoga session

For our girls, a good start includes:

  1. enough time to wake up slowly and, some days, a bit of breakfast (theShi)
  2. enough time for breakfast and a visit to Grannie’s (theRo)
  3. tending to the kitten’s needs
  4. a time of quiet for Bible reading, meditation, and journaling
  5. and sometimes they join me for yoga.

The Why Of It All

One of my parents, usually my mom, read a Bible-based devotional or story to my sister and me each evening before prayers and bedtime. This is something I wanted to pass on to my own children. But I was never really encouraged to do a personal Bible study time, or to write in a journal. Thinking back, I think such a practice would’ve been a great benefit. So now our children have time before school begins to do this.

In the beginning, I was choosing books for them both based on what I saw them saying and doing on a daily basis. That continued until this year. (I’m a little slow to change, I think.) I asked our oldest daughter what topic she’d like to focus on. She chose depression “because I have a lot of friends who have to deal with that.”

Did you know it’s possible to be happy, sad, and proud all at once? When your children display a concern for the well-being of others, it really helps a parent think they did at least some things correctly. I wrote about this last week but finally decided on this book instead.

I feel like this is where it all begins. Depression that hits most young people seems to begin when our hormones start firing off changes we have to get used to. Our moods are strangely affected and it’s hard to get it all straight. When others around us lash out with hurtful words and actions, it makes that burden heavier. This book seemed to focus on ways to overcome that negativity. When theShi has worked her way through to the end, I’ll ask for a review from her to share with you.

I didn’t offer a choice to our youngest. Though she is old enough to choose, there was a need in her life which I saw. I hoped to offer her encouragement to overcome the hardships. If offered a choice, she might choose something which would be interesting but not necessarily relevant to her own need. For her, I chose this book.

OK, I must confess. I had to read the entire cover to see who Sadie Robertson was. I’m not really a Duck Dynasty fan because I don’t enjoy watching reality TV. So I didn’t realize the ‘big name’ significance at first. But the topical studies for each week seemed directly aimed at things she was dealing with now. Some will be helpful for experiences she is certain to encounter in the near future. It’s a win as far as she is concerned because the section divisions are short, as are the question/answer spaces.

If you’d like to know what I read each morning, this is my list.

So Why Do You Do It?

It takes time to read through these things, meditate on them, and think about how it all applies to your life. So why do we take that time to do it? Well, for me, it’s a daily reminder of my purpose. It helps me focus on the character traits I want to practice more often. It encourages me to be a better version of myself. I encourage my girls to do the same.

When we focus on positive things, when we practice positivity, when we focus on how we can change ourselves in order to change the world around us, I think that’s the kind of encouragement this world needs. It won’t happen if I waste valuable time on empty activities. Positive change must start with me, with each of us.

I want to teach my students the importance of such a magnificent power. For us, that includes studying about the God of Abraham and Isaac, and the Messiah Yeshua who came to seek and save those who are lost. It includes prayer time and a time of meditation.

For you, it might look a little different. I’d like to hear how a good school day starts for your homeschool family. Please feel free to share any tips or ideas you find helpful! Thanks for taking the time to read today. You are loved and appreciated.

Buddha Quote 52017

I thought this was appropriate since daily life is a journey of truth-finding. I hope you enjoy the .png file which you are free to download. I made it at http://www.canva.com

Ephesians 3:16 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

16 I pray that from the treasures of his glory he will empower you with inner strength by his Spirit,

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Time For Some Shopping!

I usually spend most of the months of May and June shopping for curriculum. If you are one of the homeschool families who live close to where the conventions set up shop, then know that you are BLESSED! I live three hours from either of the two cities which are big enough to host a homeschool convention, but I’ve never heard of them doing so. And it seems like no matter where we live, we still manage to miss them for one reason or another.

“You are blessed!”

What Can You Do?

I do the next best thing. This year, I started a little early and compared prices from my go-to stores via the web. It looks like Christian Book Distributors is going to get most of our business. If you’ve never checked them out before, they offer a pretty nice selection of home education items. I don’t really shop at any store exclusively, and I much prefer shopping with smaller businesses. But the budget is king around here and I still need to make sure I stick to it.

I Like Devotional Books

A few years ago, I started implementing the use of journals to start each school day. Two years ago, I bought devotional books for each of our girls and encouraged them to include a time of Bible reading and meditation during that part of the day.

Our oldest is reading her way through the Bible. She’s not following any set of rules. She’s simply reading what she can in the allotted time. And best of all, she’s loving it! She’s in Deuteronomy and says it’s been her favorite book so far. She also has a heart for people who are hurting: those who struggle with depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues…these are the ones she hurts with. So I’m looking at these two books for her devotion time:

Both authors are well-known to me and I’m certain both of these books would benefit her.

Our youngest daughter is more active and easily distracted. I considered all the different things she likes to do. Surprisingly, I found devotionals for kids who enjoy cooking! Books with shorter meditations which include simple questions, blanks to fill in, or discussion questions are really good for her. I looked at these.

Whether you serve the same God as our family or follow a different path, a time of meditation is pretty important for your overall health.

Organizing That Stuff

How do you keep track of all the interesting curriculum choices you consider for your students? I usually handwrite my lists. Not only does it help me remember the items in the list, it gives me a written record I can go back to later if I have any questions or need to switch to something else. For my readers, I created a Curriculum Shopping List. You can either download a PDF file through the highlighted link below, or click on the png photo beneath it. If my worksheet doesn’t fit your needs, why not check out some of the other layouts in Canva to make one that does?

Curriculum Shopping ListCurriculum Shopping List

Psalm 63:6-7 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

(5) I am as satisfied as with rich food;
my mouth praises you with joy on my lips
(6) when I remember you on my bed
and meditate on you in the night watches.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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Tupper Museum Fieldtrip

Our kids ask us all the time, “What’s so important about learning history?” It’s a good question. Why is history important? One major reason might be to learn from the horrible mistakes that have been made. Unfortunately, the less emphasis we put on caring about those around us, the less inclined we are to make a positive difference in our world. We’ve conditioned our children to expect things to be handed to them without having to work for them. And this reflects directly in how they learn things.

“What’s so important about learning history?” – Most School Children

What Can We Do?

Field trips are an excellent way to give children a tangible view of history. We take them to museums of all kinds, from art to military to local history museums. This time we chose to visit the Tupper Museum in Jennings, LA. Upon walking into the gift shop door, we were warmly welcomed by the staff and directed to the doors of the museum. Mrs. Elaine was our informative and pleasant guide throughout the general store part of the museum. She taught us about the history of the store itself, and about all the different items which would’ve sat on the shelves during the many years the store was open. Our girls had the opportunity to gain a hands-on perspective, as well. We marveled at old tins of syrup made by one of the most well-known breweries in the USA and bottles of skin and hair care products made with coconut oil. Some of the items have been donated to the museum over the years but many of their displays are filled with original stock.

The back rooms of the general store house a museum where you can listen to and see the history of the telephone. This part of the museum is more hands-on. There are play areas for younger children and two old phone booths which have been connected so two visitors can speak to each other inside them. The story of the telephone unfolds as you walk through the area displays. Each booth has a push button which tells a part of the tale in English or in Cajun French. For me, the most interesting parts were the dress made of actual telephone book papers and the information on how hurricanes and floods affected the phone service back then.

In the gift shop, you’ll find Louisiana-themed items and local Louisiana products, art, and artisan crafts. They also sell old-time candy and toys. There’s a wide range of prices, so everyone can find something they like to bring home. And don’t forget to ask about the military discount if you are in the armed forces!

I created a handy pdf field trip planner for you guys today. Just click on the link to download your own copy. I know my post is late but with the field trip yesterday, it left little time for us to do anything else. I hope you find the planner useful.

Field Trip Planner

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

Proverbs 1:5-6 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Someone who is already wise
will hear and learn still more;
someone who already understands
will gain the ability to counsel well;
he will understand proverbs, obscure expressions,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.