Like icing on the cake, enrichment studies and activities have rounded out our education. Plus we've had a blast!
The Lord has provided so many unique opportunities to learn and grow.
I remember our children coming back from a wet walk with a homeschooling family from church. Now, I'm not a nature girl, so I was happy to provide this opportunity for my children, but I didn't want to be the provider. The idea of "wet walk" in Florida just said, "alligators, snakes, and yucky bugs" to me, but my children had a blast! And they learned a lot about our wetlands.
One year, my teenage daughters and I signed up for a course at the local community college--a hip-hop class. This was a fun way to exercise and we counted it as PE.
We have gone to seminars, workshops, and classes at our local craft/hobby shop. One year I took Shine to a Christian film festival. It was a bonding time, as well as very educational for the two of us.
Things like art, music, cake decorating, debate, foreign language, dancing, swimming, clubs, choir, team sports, and homemaking add so many fun moments to our home school experience.
So what are some areas that would be fun for you to explore with your children?
Painting, ceramics, collage, charcoals, and pastels are all ways to express creativity.
Some children have a natural artistic flair. Others don't. Treat them all with enthusiasm. Cheer them on.
Drawing is a great skill to start with . There are several "How-to-Draw" books that can teach the basics of sketching. A sketch pad and some nature walks are a great introduction to nature and art together.
I created a tote of art supplies for my children and a cabinet with a shelf of different kinds of paper inside. If my children wanted to create, they could pull out what they needed and get to work.
In middle and high school, there were some watercolor painting and ceramic courses at our homeschool co-op that we took advantage of to give more formal training.
In many countries around the world, folks celebrate Three Kings Day on January 6. Also called Epiphany, this holiday is the celebration of the Wise Men’s visit to baby Jesus after a long journey following a star.
Did you know that the 12 Days of Christmas starts on December 26 and lasts until January 6 when people celebrate Epiphany? It’s true! For many families, the Christmas celebration doesn’t end until Three Kings Day.
Why did Christians start celebrating Epiphany in the first place?
Well, back in the olden days, Christians wanted to remember the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth and what it meant to each one personally. To make Christmas more special, they spent the season of Advent fasting and praying. It became a time of spiritual preparation to go deeper with the Lord.
The fasting ended with the feast of Christmas, special church services were held and people rested from their work. The 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany were filled with saints’ days so it was eventually thought of as 12 Days of Christmas followed by Epiphany, another day to have a special service and celebrate.
Here are the saints celebrated by the Catholic Church between Christmas and Epiphany. The Protestant Church doesn’t celebrate holidays for the saints.
What makes a birthday special for the birthday person?
What makes a birthday special for party guests and family?
We enjoy picking our favorite foods for dinner, giving presents, and throwing a party with games and laughter.
In our house, we also like to play the Encouragement Game at birthdays.
What is the Encouragement Game?
The Encouragement Game is focused on just one person at a time. Everyone else in the room shares things they appreciate and admire about the that person. It is so uplifting for the one being encouraged. And for those being encouraged, it makes us feel valuable and loved.
We like to focus on Jesus on His Birthday! It's such a privilege to remind Jesus of Who He is and all that He means to us!
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NASB).
We praise Him because He created all things that exist whether we can see them or not! Jesus not only created all things; He is in charge of all things! Jesus is our Creator-King!
The First Celebration
Nothing says Christmas like curling up under a blanket and watching a Christmas movie.
I want to share our family's favorite Christmas movies with you.
We have seen many of these movies over and over again through the years. Some are inspirational and some are hilarious fun!
All are packed with festive holiday cheer and music that makes the troubles of the world seem distant for a short time.
As Christmas rolls around again year after year, we find ourselves wanting to see these old favorites once again.
So, pop the popcorn, heat up the hot chocolate, and get ready to hear about some wonderful Christmas movies that the whole family will enjoy!
Veterans Day is set aside for Americans to say, "Thank you" to the soldiers, sailors, and pilots who have risked their lives defending America. It means so much to most veterans to have Americans appreciate their service to our nation.
Growing up, Daddy always flew the American Flag on Veterans Day, just as he did on Fourth of July and Memorial Day. I always felt proud to be an American when I saw our flag waving from the front porch.
However, sometimes as a child I got confused between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. If it confuses you, here is the difference. Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember those who have given their lives for our country. Veterans Day is a day to honor all those who have served the country in war and peace. We honor ALL veterans.
You can talk to your children about Veterans Day and explain why we celebrate. You can do something special for veterans that you know (see ideas below). You can hang the flag together and learn the proper way to hang it and take it down.
American USA Flag Etiquette
Tips for Hanging a Flag on Your House
You can download color pages for Veterans Day that your children can color.
Veterans Day Coloring Pages
Veterans Day Color Page from Crayola
USA Printables: Veterans Day
You can also tell them how Veterans Day came to be.
One way to explore literature at a deeper level is to read a classic book and when everyone is finished reading the book, to watch the movie.
I love classic literature! My book shelves are filled with classics that have been loved by many generations. I always look for ways to enjoy literature with my children and to dig a little deeper.
We have found that discussing books in a book club type atmosphere is a great way to dig deeply into a work of literature. (You can read my blog post, Book Clubs Instead of Book Reports or listen my podcast Book Clubs Instead of Book Reports).
Another way we have explored literature at a deeper level is to read the book and watch the movie. Next, comes the discussion part. We figure out all the ways the book and the movie are different. There is always so much to discover. Movie producers and screenwriters often make massive changes to reach their audience.
Once we have our list of differences between the book and the movie, we discuss them. Which do we like better: the original book or the movie changes?
I have chosen 4 books that are fine works of classic literature. Each of them also have movies that are wholesome fun for the whole family to enjoy.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri was written in 1880 and is set in Switzerland. Orphaned, she goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps where her charming ways win love and affection. Relatives become appalled by the sparse conditions she lives in with her Grandfather, so she is sent to Frankfort, Germany where she lives with her cousin, meeting Clara and her grandmother who leads her to Christ.
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter is set in America at the turn of the century. Orphaned, she is sent to live with her Aunt Polly . She turns the town upside=down with her sunny disposition. The movie is just as sweet as the book. It was produced in the 1960s.
Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers is set in turn-of-the-century England. She is a nanny that comes to get the family back together. You will love the movie, too with all the enchanting adventures Mary takes the children on including drinking tea upside-down.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is another classic book that introduces the reader to a magical car and the magical adventures in that car. The movie is quite fun, too!
My son loves to play chess and so do several of my young friends so I was very intrigued by the opportunity to review Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox!
As soon as the family chess set arrived, I bought it to our homeschool co-op. There are many chess fans in our co-op so I wanted them to try it out.
Peter enjoyed playing the game and said that it was fun to play with the dice because it made the game more random and he was able to get his friend Daniel, who hates chess, to play. He also liked that you can play regular chess, too!
Samuel thought it was really fun and like the options. He thought it was a great way to introduce non-chess players to the game.
Gracie loved all the pretty colors in the booklet and on the dice. She liked the easier version and said it made her want to keep playing.
Daniel was surprised that he enjoyed it so much.
Fun Family Chess contains a wooden chess board and 32 wooden chess pieces. In addition, there was a full color chess directions booklets, a pouch to hold chess pieces, two full color reference cards, and a chess cube.
I love that everything is color-coded so that learning chess is made more simple.
Sometime during the middle school years, each of my children took a world geography course where they did lots of mapping using blank outline maps. They filled in landforms like mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes, forests, grasslands, and deserts. They also filled in political maps with names of countries, capitals, and important rivers.
At the end of the course, the children had to draw their own continents with national political boundaries using a grid. The end-of-the-year map included political boundaries, landforms, and important places. Some of them were works of art, being so precise, neat, and colorful.
When my youngest son came along, I decided to let them do something a little more creative. They would make their final world map, but this time, it would be on the master bathroom wall.
The first decision was to choose the map projection for the wall. They had to choose between the Robinson projection, Mercator projection, and the Universal Transverse Mercator System. They chose the Universal Transverse Mercator System which did make some of the countries look a little bit odd.
Once we choose the projection, Jimmy and his friend carefully measured to make the lines of latitude and longitude drawing lightly with pencils. Later these would be erased.
Using the lines, the outline of continents was drawn first with light pencil so that they could be erased if need be.
"Let's do something different tonight!" I suggested.
Every family night we played a game or watched a movie both of which everyone enjoyed, but I wanted a change.
All eyes were upon me.
"Let's create commercials!" I smiled at my brood. "It will be so much fun!"
Before anyone could complain, my husband divided the family into 2 groups.
Each group would come up with a commercial and record it. Then we would watch each other's commercials together while we ate cookies and popcorn.
With eyes on the popcorn, one group went upstairs to brainstorm and the other group stayed in the family room.
The upstairs group decided to do a hair removal commercial. Use my mascara, they created a uni-brow on Jenny Rose, then 11.They also added massive amounts of "hair" to one leg. Jenny Rose would be the victim of peer cruelty because of excessive hair growth, but NADS hair removal would come to her rescue. The dialogue was priceless.
The other group decided to do a cooking commercial in the kitchen with lots of slapstick comedy thrown in, including falling down and spilling things. The final scene would show everyone bandaged, but happily eating the delicious food cooked in the space age pots.
Needless to say, the night was a huge success. We had a blast! And over the years we have watched these videos over and over.
The Value of Family Night
Here it is the end of August and we in the path of a hurricane. No one is worried. We know the drill. Get your supplies. Batten down the hatches and settle in to ride out the storm or evacuate if needed.
I grew up in Florida and have been through many hurricanes, including some major hurricanes. You really never know what a hurricane will do. The slower moving ones often bring a ton of water which has meant mopping up water from our family room floor.
Most long-time Floridians have a stash of hurricane items that are stored in the laundry room or pantry and include flashlights, lanterns, and a portable radio. We check the battery supply, stock up on non-perishable food items, buy bags of ice to throw into coolers if the electricity goes out, get more bottled water than we could possibly drink for a lifetime, and make sure we have at least 2 can openers that work before a storm hits.
We charge up phones, tablets, and laptops before the storm.
Of course, we get the house ready. We take in all furniture and lawn decorations, storing them in our already crowded garage. We trim off any branches that look like they could cause damage if they broke off, and we board up our windows.
At the last possible minute, I scrub out the tub and rinse it sparkling clean. Then I fill it with water. This water is in case a water main breaks so we have water to do dishes and bathe. We've never had that happen, but others have so we keep doing it every storm.
Did you know that you can buy many of the supplies you need online at Amazon and have them delivered right to your door? That makes things so much easier.
Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links from my participation in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. . I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
You should have 3 gallons per person per day when a hurricane is approaching. But, remember I also fill our very clean bathtub with water. I usually run to the grocery store to buy bottled water, but you can purchase it at Amazon. Crystal Geyser Natural Spring Water is perfect when a hurricane hits!
Flashlights & Batteries
Family Movie Nights are a weekly event in our home. We enjoy popping some popcorn and watching a good movie that everyone enjoys.
Okay, there is a catch to this Hallmark moment movie night.
We have trouble finding movies that we all enjoy and more importantly, we have a hard time finding a movie that is wholesome.
So, I will share some of the movies we've found that the whole family enjoys. These movies are hits in our house. I think you will enjoy them too.
Some of the movies are Christian (Risen, Facing the Giants, Polycarp). They inspire us and motivate us to draw closer to Jesus.
Other movies make us laugh (Mom's Night Out, Cars, Princess Bride). Some our Hollywood versions of Christians stories (Chariots of Fire, Sound of Music)
Movies can impact us in a positive or negative way. Everyone loves a good story. A good movie with a delightful story and sparkling acting is a blessing for the whole family.
Movies often lead to discussions afterward or even weeks/months later.
Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links from my participation in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. . I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
Chariots of Fire
This is the story of Eric Liddell, a gold medal winner in the 1924 Olympics. His devotion to the Lord is exempliary and inspiring! The movie also follows another runner who must overcome anti-Semetic prejudice in his quest for winning.
This awarding winning movie (Academy Award for Best Picture) was released in 1981.
Learning is a lifestyle. Whether it's educational placemats or nature walks, we are learning every moment.
The question is: what are we learning?
I want to cultivate a sense of wonder and curiosity in my children. Putting things in their pathway like classical music, educational placemats, or a coffee table book of Impressionist paintings. This allows my children to pick things up, observe, and ask questions if and when they want to.
Yes, I do formal teaching, but I also try to sprinkle their lives full of opportunities to ask questions and wonder.
We fell in love with educational placemats when our children were little. I just happened to pick up a USA map placemat on sale and little did I know how much it would impact my children. I had to get a second one so they each could eat off their very own map.
When they were quite young, my children learned about numbers, A-B-Cs, USA states and capitals, and the periodic table (long before we studied chemistry) while they ate their breakfast cereal and sandwich for lunch.
There is something fun about a placemat that is bright and colorful that captures the imagination of a child. When its educational, it makes learning fun!
In our home, educational placemats jump-started curiosity.
Now, I'm a grandmother and my two little grandsons sit at my Nana's old table and eat when they visit. And I have pulled out the colorful, cheery placemats their mommy enjoyed. Now, they enjoy them, too.
Of course, I've been shopping for new placemats and I thought I'd share what I've found with you.
These placemats would make a great addition to your homeschooling and lunchtime fun.
I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
Summer is a great time to relax.
The weather is warm, the skies are blue, and sunshine is smiling on everything.
Summer is the perfect time to curl up with a book or have an Anne of Green Gables movie marathon.
Nothing relaxes me more than lying on a beach chair listening to the waves crash on the shore. Soon, I am far away in a happy places. Oops! I hope someone is watching my kids!
Summer is a great time to make memories.
We love to swim in the pool, play games, craft, scrapbook, enjoy museums, and visit amusement parks in the summer. Afternoons at the playground or discovering where a dirt road leads are fun, too!
Summer is a great time to learn.
We always take a break from formal schooling in the summer, but learning continues on. After all, we live a lifestyle of learning as homeschooling families. There is always something to discover and investigate!
With all of this in mind, here are some happy ideas to celebrate summer, make memories, learn new things, and have a blast this summer!
Here in Florida, swimming is part of life. There are lakes, pools, springs, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico to swim in.
I remember taking swimming lessons as a little girl at a neighbor's pool. I blew bubbles underwater and learned to float.
My children grew up in the water, too, but we taught them to swim ourselves, introducing them to the water while they were still in diapers.
I definitely recommend swim lessons if you can afford them. All children should be safe near water. You never know when you will have to swim to escape danger or help rescue someone.
The other day, we were swimming with my grandchildren and children in their neighborhood pool. Rusty got out of the pool, took off his floaties, and jumped back in. "He can't swim!" my son-in-law said sharply as I was watching him struggle in a state of shock. That jolted me and I scooped him up. My heart was pounding as I realized how quickly accidents happen.
It reminded me of my baby sister who did the same thing. Took off her floatie and jumped right back into our next-door neighbor's pool. My neighbor Tommy jumped in and saved her life. She had quickly sunk to the bottom of the deep end.
All children should be able if they jump or fall in a pool, lake, or other body of water to swim, escaping to safety.
If you are looking for lessons or teaching children yourself, here are some steps to take babies and toddlers on their first steps to swim proficiency.