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!
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
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.
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.
The beach is a great place to explore. You and your children can have all kinds of learning adventures along the shore, in the tide pools, and climbing the sand dunes.
Here are some great ways to learn at the beach.
Engineer a Castle that withstands the Waves
Here’s a great STEM project. Construct a castle with a moat that will withstand the occasional wave. This might take several tries.
Mark Off the Tides
Place a sturdy stick that will withstand the waves every hour at the average place where the waves stop before rolling back. Then figure out how many feet the tide changes each hour. Estimate where it will be in 2 or 3 hours.
Explore a Tide Pool
When the tide goes out, a tide pool is often left behind. Explore the tide pool for little creatures.
Bring along a sketch pad, or easel with paper and pretend you are a world famous artist working on your next masterpiece. You can sketch the waves and the sky or zero in on a bird.
We are up and running. It’s a brand-new year. So much to be excited about. It’s hard to believe that soon this school year will just be a memory.
My Missing Photos
I have been homeschooling since 1991 and as I look back at our photo albums—yes, I used to get photos printed and put them in albums before digital—I find one set of photos missing. The photos of my children reading, working on a math problem, reading to a sibling, or doing chores.
I have lots of photos of birthdays, holidays, field trips, and special days, but I wish I had more photos of ordinary school days.
Maybe you do take lots of photos of school and chores, posting them on Instagram for the world to see. Good for you! You will treasure those memories one day.
Storing My Photos
As you go through the school year, don’t forget to snap photos and save mementos. Maybe you don’t scrapbook or print photos and put them in leather albums, but you can label and save them in folders.
I don’t print up photos much anymore, unless I am framing them, but I do label photos with the date and list the people in the photo. Sometimes I just use initials like this: “Christmas Day 2016 JR JA Dad Jim KB Rusty.”
My photos are organized on my computer, too. There is one folder for every year: 2000, 2001, 2002, etc. Then, I also have all twelve months in separate folders: Jan 2015, Feb 2015, March 2015, etc. Inside these folders are all kinds of folders: Beach 6 6 15, Road Rally 6 17 15, Mom’s BD 6 2 15, etc. These folders are descriptive, so I can easily remember the day by looking at the title.
All the Gospels in the New Testament devote several chapters to the last week of Jesus’ life.
After all, there was so much going on that final week when Jesus took the sins of the whole world on Himself and died for us.
Satan thought he won, but he lost! Jesus rose from the dead on the third day!
When Holy Week and Easter roll around, I want my children to learn about and celebrate everything!
Besides being real history, this week is foundational for our faith in Jesus.
So, let me give you a birds’ eye view of the last week of Jesus life and ways to celebrate with your family.
Dinner at Simon's House
Starting on Saturday, Jesus dined with Simon the Leper in Bethany. Bethany was where Lazarus, whom he had just raised from the dead, and his sisters Mary and Martha lived. Anyway, while Martha served, Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. Jesus said that she had anointed Him for burial and commended her.
Family Fun: Give one another foot rubs
(Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-9)
Triumphal Arrival in Jerusalem
On Sunday, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people were so excited, they worshipped Him, as well as spreading cloaks and palm branches on the ground for Him to ride over.
Family Fun: Dress up and act out the Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem
(Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19)