Homeschool Enrichment Fun!
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.
Celebrate Christmas in Germany Unit Study is a way to experience a more meaningful Christmas while learning and having fun! Travel to Germany with me and discover so many of the festive Christmas German traditions we have adopted as our own. We will explore cities, castles, churches, the Black forest, and a Christmas museum.
Each day will start with reading one of Grimm’s fairy tales, followed by a Bible passage. The devotion ties the fairy tale and Bible passage together.
Reading time is followed by learning about a different topic every day ranging from Christmas markets or Advent to St. Boniface or bears. Hands-on learning fun follows! Crafting, mapping, baking, cooking, drawing, and planning will keep children happy while they learn at the same time.
Are you ready to visit Germany for Christmas?
Learn more about Celebrate Christmas in Germany here.
You can purchase Celebrate Christmas in Germany Unit Study at Amazon.
Celebrate Christmas in Germany Unit Study E-book is available for purchase at PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers.
Have a festive, fun Christmas.
God bless you!
Homeschooling at Christmas
Can you get ready for Christmas and homeschool at the same time?
Of course you can. You can schedule everything perfectly and have the perfect balance of school, fun, and preparation. OR…
You can combine Christmas adventures and preparations as one big learning experience.
How We Did It
Before the children got to high school, we always scheduled our subjects to take a break during December, except for math. We always worked on math at least 4 days of week during December except for Christmas week.
What did we do for school those weeks you ask?
Well, we learned about Christmas in other places or read favorite books aloud that led us on learning adventures. We also prepared for Christmas. We signed and addressed Christmas cards, decorated the house for Christmas inside and outside, caroled, attended Christmas events, participated in Christmas dramas, made gifts, shopped, wrapped gifts, mailed gifts, and did lots of baking.
Sometimes we enjoyed Christmas-focused unit studies that included reading, crafts, field trips, as well as Christmas preparations and fun.
Read the Book & Watch the Movie
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 mother passed on her worn copy of Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, Rose in Bloom, Eight Cousins, Jack and Jill, and Old-Fashioned Girl to me. I read them to shreds! I cried and laughed while I learned lessons about virtue and kindness. Of course, I didn't realize I was learning those lessons, but I did.
This books are part of my heritage and they filled many hours of my girlhood with warmth and happy thoughts. I loved nurturing Meg, kind Polly, gentle Rose, strong willed Jo, and loving Beth. They stood for me as definitions of what it meant to be a "good girl."
Yes, these books are old-fashioned. They will take you and your daughters back to a time of good manners, virtue, and kindness when parents were respected and people went to church.
You will laugh and cry as you get involved in their adventures.
I recommend these lovely books to young women ages 8 to 88 because the stories are timeless, classic in the true sense of the word. Louisa introduces us to well-rounded characters who grow, learn, and change. Family and home are places where life happens. You will related to the heroines and their friends and family. Because after all, times may change, but the longings in our hearts stay the same.
These books are all in our home library. Little Women is the most popular of her books, but I recommend starting younger girls with Jack and Jill. I have listed all 7 books my mother passed to me below with links to buy them on Amazon. You can also find these books at used book stores.
Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys are a trilogy about the March family. Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom introduce you to Rose Campbell. Jack and Jill and Old Fashioned Girl stand alone.
"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
I learned a new cooking term recently, “mise en place.”
It’s pronounced meese on plos. It’s French and it translates as everything in its place.
Apparently in the restaurant world it refers to having all your ingredients and tools prepared and at the ready when you begin a dish.
It’s imperative in a busy restaurant kitchen to do this so things keep moving and guests get their orders promptly. It’s also very helpful in a home kitchen as well. It keeps us from starting a dish and finding out halfway through that we’re missing a critical ingredient.
Or that we loaned out that special tool we love to use in this dish.
Or that it takes much longer to prep a certain ingredient than you have time in the cooking process.
Any of these can ruin your dish.
Isn’t the same true about homeschooling?
One of the reasons I homeschool is to teach my children from a Christian worldview.
What does it mean to homeschooling from a Christian Worldview?
It means imparting life to my children, teaching them truth, and introducing them to the life-changing person of Jesus Christ. It means fulfilling the Great Commission by raising children who love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
A Christian worldview acknowledges that there is a God who is involved in the affairs of mankind, that the Bible is true and speaks to all of life. We know that people live in a fallen state, they are not basically good, they need to be rescued from their sin. We know that the Lord intervenes in people's lives in answer to prayer or to fulfill His divine purpose for a person or a nation.
Here are the ways I educate my children from a Christian worldview. I give them a biblical foundation, inspiring them to fulfill the Creation Mandate and Great Commission, using curricula that is written from a Christian worldview, and surrendering to Jesus.
A Christian worldview is based on the Word of God as it applies to all of life, including theology, philosophy, sociology, ethics, law, government, history, pyschology, economics, politics, family, child rearing, education. careers, medicine, health care, and relationships.
We make the Bible the foundation for education in our home.
We read, study, and memorize Scripture so that the Word is living in our children’s hearts and lives. We obey the Word of God.
When it comes to conflict resolution, we follow Jesus’ plan in Matthew 18 to work in out between two and bring in a third person (parent) if it can’t be worked out.
Our children honor us as parents and respect our authority so that it will go well with them according to Ephesians 6:1-4.
The bottom line is that we use God’s Word as the measuring stick. If something doesn’t line up with Scripture, it is tossed out. The Bible is the standard of truth.
Review of What is Your Language
On the title page of What is Your Language by Debra Leventhal a little boy is packing a suitcase and holding his red passport.
He is off to make new friends all around the world.
His first stop is London where he asks some children, "What is your language?" and they respond, "My language is English and this is the way it sounds, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!"
The pattern continues with him traveling to Germany, France, Russian, Inuktitut, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Swahili, and Spanish. Children love patterns like we find in this picture book.
When he tells the children he is going home, they all respond, "No!" in their native language.
The final illustration is the little lying under his world flag comforter with his map-of-the-word rug by his bed. Very cute!
Which brings me to the illustrations.
Geography is one of our favorite subjects! We love to explore the world and learn all about other places in the world and how people live there.
Over the years, we have enjoyed many different resources and created our own!
We love living books and literature set in beautiful places. We love to go on adventures through the pages of a book.
We enjoy songs that help us memorize geography facts and games that help us remember country names and capitals.
We have enjoyed living textbooks and created our own curriculum with unit study fun.
We have enjoyed cooking and baking from around the world. Unit studies have been a blast, too!
Finally, we love to read and research so we can learn more about other places.
Here are some of our very favorite geography resources. We hope you will enjoy them, too.
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.
Reel Kids Adventures from YWAM
Our family loves this literature series from YWAM: The Reel Kids Adventures. These Christian kids travel the world to make videos and on their way solves mysteries. You can purchase The Amazon Stranger, The Missing Video, The Himalayan Rescue, and Mystery at Smokey Mountain on Amazon. Look for more titles here. You can also buy the whole set of 10 books from YWAM here.
Classic Literature Set in Foreign Countries
Review of Biblioburro
Luis lives in Columbia with his wife Diana. He loves to read and buys lots and lots of books.
He has so many books, he has to get rid of some which gives him a great idea.
He will create a mobile library, transported from town to town on the back of a donkey. Luis and his traveling library go from village to village, reading books to children and letting them take books home to read.
Books, biblio in Spanish, and donkey, burro in Spanish led to the book's title, Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter.
Beyond the charming story, this picture book is filled with charming illustrations that children love! The pictures are bright and cheery!
The story of one man's outreach to his fellow Colombians is delightful. Your little lambs will want to hear it again and again.
Children are often told that the small unit of life is the cell when we are studying plants, animals, and people (life science).
But, in physical science, we are told that the smallest unit of matter is the atom.
They are both true.
Living Things are made up of matter that is made up of atoms and molecules, too.
You see a cell has many components like ribosomes, mitochondria, and lysosomes. These components are made up of large molecules and the molecules are made up of atoms.
Proteins, sugars, and fats are all molecules. The oxygen that your cells so desperately need is a molecule.
Inside the cell, chemical reactions are happening all the time! Inside the cell, you will find atoms as part of molecules. Their electrons in an atom are busy beavers participating in all kinds of movement during the chemical reactions that keep a person alive. In the cellular level, the processes that provide oxygen (respiration), energy (glucose), and building things like antibodies are pure chemistry!
I remember so many times staring a test in college, thinking, "I know this! Why can't I remember?"
Years later, I was homeschooling my own children and they had their own struggles with remembering information.
Whether you are a college student or teaching a preschooler, learning should be a joyful experience.
Wait! You're not experiencing joy in your learning journey? It's hard to remember things.
Or your not enjoying your homeschool adventure because it's hard to teach your children so they remember things.
This is for all of those who struggle to remember what they learn and for all the teachers who teach them.
Here are some tips to help you learn to remember. They work for all ages, even homeschool moms.
"Look to your left," the professor barked. We all look to our left. "Now look to your right!" We all looked to our right. "Half of you will fail this class."
My first day of Human Anatomy and Physiology my sophomore year of college was off to a dismal start. I was paralyzed for a month with fear of failure. If you want to remember or help your students remember, start by setting yourself or your students up for success.
Set Up for Success
Set yourself or your student up for success by expressing confidence in your ability to learn whatever is before you!
Nothing is impossible with God! We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength! Surround yourself with positive people who cheer you on and be a cheerleader to your students.
Set yourself up for success by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Good health makes learning easier.
Setting yourself up for success also involves the environment. Choose a place to study with plenty of light and fairly quiet. Make sure you find a comfortable place to read and study. I like to read while I sit on a comfy couch or recliner. If I read in bed, I fall asleep. Light energizes me so if the weather is dark and cloudy, I turn on plenty of lights. What is your optimal environment? Your students'?
When I am stressed out or frustrated, I have a hard time studying. If I'm trying to teach and feel stressed, my students are on edge, too. They cannot learn because they are too busy wondering what's wrong with me and what I am going to say. Sometimes when the children were little, I would become frustrated when they couldn't "get" something. I would have to take a break and get my joy back.
One day I was trying every way possible to teach Julianna first, second, third. I was so angry that she couldn't understand all the creative ways I was trying to show her the concept. So we took a break. I said a quick prayer and immediately got an idea. We went into her bedroom where I lined all the stuffed animals up and pointed to each of the first three in line. "First, second, third," I said. She got it! Now, I thought all my other illustrations were more creative, but that's what clicked for her!
Keep trying different methods until it clicks. When things get tense, take a break for five or ten minutes to calm down.
Understanding Helps You Remember
?fter 4 daughters, I had every book a girl could dream of. But, what about my son? I had to find books he would love.
In my quest to introduce Jimmy to great books full of adventure, along with wholesomeness and Christian inspiration, I found R.M. Ballantyne.
A Christian author on a quest to enchant and inspire children with amazing adventures, Robert Michael Ballantyne books are thrilling. My son loved them and I think yours will, too.
Robert Michael Ballantyne was born in Edinburgh into a family of famous printers and publishers. At 16, he traveled to Canada to serve for six years with the Hudson's Bay Company, returning to to Scotland in 1847. During his time in Canada, he traded with the local Native Americans for furs, which required him to travel by canoe and sleigh to the areas occupied by the modern-day provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. He published his first book in 1848, Hudson's Bay: or Life in the Wilds of North America. He wrote a series of adventure stories for children with a strong Christian message.
Homeschooling Moms, they also contain tons of history, geography, and science information.
In 1866, Robert married Jane Grant. God blessed them with 3 sons and 3 daughters. This father of six has left a legacy of adventure books for boys, though girls will enjoy them, too!
isclosure: 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.
The Coral Island
R.M. Ballantyne spins an exciting tale of shipwreck and survival in The Coral Island. They encounter cannibals and pirates. Filled with biblical truths and Christian principles, this book still has it after nearly a century and a half. You will love this adventure!
The Gorilla Hunters
Zoos, Aquariums, Botanical Gardens, and Natural Museums allow children to see God's Creation up close, to learn more about all of His amazing creation.
Children love to see things up close, especially animals!
Our family has always enjoyed zoos and aquariums the most! There's something about see seals and monkeys play that always delights me! And I'm a grown-up!
The sad thing is that so many of those zoos, aquariums, gardens, and museums teach evolution and don't believe that God sent a worldwide flood in the time of Noah. It should not surprise us that people who don't know the Lord don't want to glorify the Creator of all things.
"Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.' 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly" (II Peter 3:2-7 ESV).
Just because the world is misguided, doesn't stop us from teaching truth to our little ones. I love to show my children the truths about our Creator in the Bible. When I see a gorgeous sunset or an adorable animal, I remind whoever is around that we serve an amazing Creator! I want my children to look around in wonder at the world and all it contains; then, pause and praise God!
So, how can we visit these fun places and teach our children the truth?