Tag Archives: education

Our WholeHearted Homeschool: LIVING

Our WholeHearted Homeschool Living

“Christian Parenting is a journey.  The destination is clear – raising godly children – but the roads to get there are not always clearly marked.  We have God’s perfect road map, the Bible, but He has not taken a divine highlighter pen and marked the single route that leads to where we want to go.  He expects us to study the course map and chart a wise course to the desired destination” – Clay Clarkson, “Heartfelt Discipline”, WaterBrook Press, 2003 (as quoted in “Educating the WholeHearted Child”, p269)

What better way to end this series than to write a little on how we keep the vision alive in our home according to our uniqueness as parents, and the order we create for our learning environment.

Together my husband and I are committed to homeschool, which is a blessing in itself, and we also have a fantastic support network of like-minded relationships and families who we can share the triumphs and trials with.

Without weighing in on the varying theology of husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers, I’d like to simply offer to you here the strengths that my husband and I both bring to our homeschool, and subsequently to our home.

The Ministry of Fatherhood

Here is a little of the ministry that my husband brings to our family:

  • A heart after God
  • Generous with his time and abilities
  • Leads with his heart
  • Affirming of our children’s uniqueness
  • A gentle and kind heart
  • A humble and faithful servant
  • An adventurous and fun-filled spirit
  • A safe place for me to fall
  • A listening ear and a guiding voice
  • A peacemaker

The Ministry of Motherhood

Here is the ministry that I bring to our family:

  • A heart after God
  • A desire to build a home ‘with heart’
  • A ‘big picture’ perspective
  • A determined purpose
  • Creating a safe, nurturing and loving environment for our family
  • An unbridled ‘fierce’ love for my husband and children
  • A desire to know God’s design for us
  • A passion for the story of God told through the generations
  • A compassion for the lowly of spirit

Keeping It Real

I do clearly want to add, we have our hearts set on the vision the Lord has given us for parenting and for our home.  But don’t let me paint a picture of perfection with these words above!  Every day we make mistakes.  We are in need of God’s grace and mercy, just as our children are.  The important thing is to be real and transparent with our children, ask forgiveness from them and from the Lord, and stay committed to working out our relationships with each other.

Keeping It All together

I have kept order in my home with different degrees of success throughout the time I’ve been a mother.  The times where things have been going well, have been where I have a plan and my children know  the plan and what is expected too.  I’ve tried homeschool structures and approaches with greater freedom, and those at the other end of the scale.  I’ve come to realise that for our family, we need some shape and order, where it doesn’t restrict learning and life, but where the flow of life within our walls is steady and somewhat predictable.

It doesn’t mean that we have to set a rigid timetable, or that we miss learning opportunities because we’re sticking hard and fast to a schedule.  But we’ve more or less found the right balance of flexibility that keeps an atmosphere of peace and we continue to move forward in our learning goals.

wholeheart living

Quick Tips On Keeping Order

Here are my top 5 tips for keeping order in the home, which I’m planning to focus on this year:

  • Plan meals ahead of time, and if you do schoolwork at the meal table, clear everything away for when it’s time to eat.
  • Keep the mornings free of answering the phone, e-mails and texts, and dedicate that time to learning.
  • Write up a timetable with blocks of time, and communicate to your children what is happening each day.
  • Listen to your ‘warning bells’ and that of your children’s, and determine if and when you need to adjust your load to keep peace and stability in your schooling.
  • Cultivate relationships between siblings if you have more than one child, and set time aside each day for different pairs to spend time one-on-one.  Let love be at the foundation of their relationships and not just ‘agreement’.  You will be setting them up for life.

Building Support

There are all manner of reasons why families homeschool, and all manner of different kinds of families.  I enjoy the colourful homeschool community in our city, and learn so much from these ladies.  Having a support network for your family, and also for you as the homeschooling Mum, is so essential to longevity and refuelling our tanks.

Your support network might be made up of homeschooling families, church or other communities of believers, extended family, and like-minded friends that love you and back your decision to homeschool.  Form authentic relationships with others, and sow into one another’s lives.

Finally my friends…

I hope there’s been something in this series that has sparked vision and inspiration in your heart towards your ‘wholehearted’ homeschool this year and beyond.

I encourage you to get “Educating the WholeHearted Child” into your hands, and jump into the river of wisdom and insight from two of the most loved and respected veteran homeschoolers, teachers, and parents you’ll discover anywhere.  I’m truly indebted to this couple and hope one day I will get to meet them.

There is no set prescription for success in homeschooling – there is the truth that the Lord is with you, and will honour your faithfulness to dedicate yourself to raising your children to love and serve.

I pray you will catch a vision for wholehearted learning, and find the path that suits your precious family.

Wholehearted homeschool

NB.  These essentials are not laid out in this manner in Clay and Sally’s most excellent book, ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’ nor are they a summary of the books content. But rather this is what I’ve understood from reading their approach, and have used their words of wisdom and insight to develop our family’s own ‘wholehearted’ approach to our homeschooling.

You might also be interested in the other posts in this series:

{This post contains affiliate links}

Our WholeHearted Homeschool: METHODS

Our Wholehearted Homeschool Methods

There are five focused study areas in “Educating the WholeHearted Child” that are a basis for building your ‘wholehearted’ homeschool. Section 3 contains suggested methods under each area for implementing the ‘WholeHearted Learning’ model into your homeschool.  This is a comprehensive section of 78 pages.  Obviously not every part of this section will be relevant to every family, but there’s all the guidance you need to build your ‘how-to’ for your homeschool.

In this post, I will simply lay out some of the methods that we are implementing overall (without breaking them down into the focused study areas).  Note, this is not a summary or re-iteration of the book’s content.  But this is where we have applied the principles and ideas in this section into how our homeschool operates.

  • Our Family Discipleship Approach

I’ve covered our family’s discipleship approach recently in this post.  This year marks a much more intentional approach for us, and being consistent with habits that we’ve wavered in at times.  We’re looking forward to it!

  • English (Language Arts), including Narration, Reading and Writing

The way we approach these essentials is largely through the lens of the Classical and Charlotte Mason methods.  We keep it fairly simple, in that we read aloud every day, so our children learn to hear good writing and learn rich language in their speech and in their writing.  For my eldest daughter (8) I do dictation and narration with her of passages from living books.  She also does copywork every day, and is starting to write longer passages of her own. (You might be interested in this post on Why We Read Together).  Our daughter learns the essentials of writing (eg. punctuation and grammar) through undertaking the writing itself with my guided instruction. However, we do use a spelling program to reinforce this area of learning.  The most important thing though, is reading – reading aloud and, when you have a competent reader, reading alone.

  • Maths

The journey of Maths in our home has had its ups and downs.  We seemed to have found a rhythm now, as we’ve incorporated more maths tools and even art into our learning.  For my naturally artsy-leaning student, it was too bland and too methodical just going through a workbook.  Some of the things we use are charts (including a hundred chart), page-a-day calendar, games, art projects for learning sums, flashcards, and manipulative blocks.

  • History

History is our favourite subject.  We love to follow the story of God on earth, and read living books to understand the chronology of history in all its colour, with mini-studies on people and certain aspects of history.  We are big on learning our family history, and our family tree traces one line back through the early Scottish kings to Ireland in the time of St Patrick and Columba, providing plenty of opportunities for learning.  We utilise a timeline book, and have divided it into eras that ‘Story of the World’ follows in its four volumes.  We’ve also done some biblical history, and love ‘What’s in the Bible’ as a supplement to notebooking pages.

  • Geography

Our geography studies largely fall into other areas, such as map work in history studies, marking our large markable map as places come up in our reading, and learning about other cultures and how people live.

  • Logic and Thinking

For this area, it would be easier just to share what we use (and intend to use) with our children: Developing the Early Learner (4 books) are a wonderful set of books to use for various areas of development for preschoolers; Critical Thinking Activities (K-3) are also a great resource for developing thinking skills.  For preschoolers we also love Mighty Minds and we also love puzzles.

  • Fine Arts

We’ve always had beautiful books of art in our home, so our children have always been drawn to creativity and beauty as expressed in art and music.  We have the ‘Come Look with Me’ series by Gladys Blizzard, and A Child’s Book of Art by Lucy Mickelthwait, as a couple of examples, and look at them together while asking the children what they enjoy in the paintings.  It’s really that simple when they’re young.  We also visit the art gallery every term with our homeschool group, and have some poetry books designed for young children (which, we’ve had varying success with but will keep at it!).

  • Creative Arts

We’ve experimented with different things, including ballet, drama, piano, singing, and art, and a few things have stuck more than others.  Art will always be part of our home, and it’s fun to see what each of my children are naturally drawn to: my eldest loves to sketch, my preschooler loves vibrant pastels and bright paper, and my little guy just loves to get his hands messy at the moment.  We have some ‘how-to’ books, plus our local library is well-stocked on various titles, and we also love Artistic Pursuits as a curriculum that fits our family well.

  • Nature Study

I’m freshly inspired by the Clarkson’s book to get the children out with their sketch books and draw what they see, and also create collections of things they find (and display them). I’d also love to set aside space for a nature library in our home, and simply connect with God in His beautiful creation when we’re out.

  • Creation Science

We are using Apologia Young Explorers series (Zoology 1 at present), which superbly takes an immersion approach to science and intelligently engages students in the wonder and awe of God’s creation.  I believe the notebooking and experiments will heighten the enjoyment factor and help your child retain much more than they otherwise would without these.

  • Home Economics

In this area, we are sticking to the basics: financial stewardship and homemaking skills.  My two eldest are taking increasing responsibility for basic care around our home, including setting the table every evening, preparing food, and helping with the laundry, just to name a few.

  • Out and About – time outside the home

We’ve become very selective about the time we spend outside the home now, as it’s precious learning hours that we want to count.  I’ve already over-filled our schedule in the past and felt exhausted by all the activity, so have learned my lesson!  We don’t have to feel like our children are missing out unless we pack their schedules full.  Just keep it simple:  a couple of trips out a week is plenty for a young family, plus those that you might do every 2 or 3 weeks (eg. library, field trips, homeschool co-ops).  Another way is to bring things into your own home, such as special workshops, children’s book club, afternoon tea teaching etiquette, or project presentation day, just to name a few ideas.

friendsSo there’s a glimpse into how we are covering what we consider the important areas of learning.  It’s not an exhaustive list of every learning experience and every part of what we do.  But I hope it will spur your thinking into how you can apply a simple yet intentional and applied approach to how you homeschool.

Write down your learning goals and refer back to them throughout the year, as you evaluate what’s working and what’s not.  Homeschooing is a journey and will change and grow as your children do.  Nothing needs to be etched in stone, when it comes to methods and curriculum.  That’s the beauty of tailoring your own program.

Enjoy the journey!

Wholehearted homeschool

NB.  These essentials are not laid out in this manner in Clay and Sally’s most excellent book, ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’ nor are they a summary of the books content. But rather this is what I’ve understood from reading their approach, and have used their words of wisdom and insight to develop our family’s own ‘wholehearted’ approach to our homeschooling.

You might also be interested in the other posts in this series:

{This post contains affiliate links}

Our WholeHearted Homeschool: LEARNING

Our wholehearted homeschool learning

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-7

“Educating the WholeHearted Child” puts it so well: “At the very heart of the history of Israel is God’s design that parents must diligently teach their children the things of God, not just on the Sabbath but at all times, in all places and in all ways.  Parents instructing their children within the context of a close family living within the broader context of the whole community of faith was and still is a nonnegotiable”. (p96)

As we’ve contemplated this responsibility in terms of our homeschooling, we’ve come to realise just how much the way we homeschool must include the ‘whole’ person, and not just the all-important ‘3 R’s’ and various academics.

Most of us already know this, right?  But I find for myself that, in actuality, I can drift from the path of ‘wholehearted learning’ unless I make it a purposeful goal to have a home-centred homeschool and not a home version of public school.  Of course we all want to get those academic essentials down pat, plus ensuring there’s enough time for socialising, attending groups and activities outside the home setting, and so forth.  But I don’t want to miss the eternal perspective on raising our children, and in shaping their hearts, with family and home at the centre of all our learning, and truly being intentional on a daily basis with this.

WholeHearted Learning – The Educational Model

“The WholeHearted Learning Model is a discipleship-based, home-centred, whole-book approach to Christian home education that integrates real books, real life, and real relationships in a life-giving expression of God’s biblical design for the family. “ (p115)

The Clarksons have created a superb and detailed description of five focused study areas, which have helped with how we build our plan, and prioritise our learning goals.  It’s very comprehensive and uses the model of a house, breaking down how each part is built.  I’ve read through this section many times as I’ve considered our learning goals, and how best our family can tailor each of our children’s education accordingly.

Our Learning Environment

We aim to create an environment in our home where our children love to learn, with language, living books (not on digital devices), reading aloud, telling stories, enjoying beautiful art and creative expression, and listening to inspiring music (including worship), just to name a few.

If we had a room to set aside for learning then we would.  But we have limited space in our current home so instead have created spaces throughout that promote learning and also communicate visually what we value.  We want our children to know that we value their learning journey.  So at present, we don’t have an immaculate living room, with adult trinkets on clear and polished surfaces (with ‘invisible’ signs saying do not touch!).  We have a large world map on a main wall.  We have globe on the piano.  We have a spelling board out on display.  And let’s not forget those books.  It’s as tidy as I can keep it, but it’s ‘lived-in’ and speaks to our children that this is what is valued in our home.

We have plenty of living books in every room of the house, including a custom-designed bunk bed with shelves full of fantastic books.  We have our children’s artwork displayed on pinboards in the main living area (also our schooling space), in their bedrooms, displayed in the art area, and the best ones eventually archived in folders.

The Clarkson’s have given me some more ideas for this year, which we will set up in due course, including a geography corner, a nature study corner and an audio corner (there are a full page of ‘Discovery Corner’ ideas on p127).


Developing Hearts, Minds and Souls

There are many ways we implement much of the ‘WholeHearted Learning’ model, but here’s just a few.

Building a library of living books is an absolute top priority for us.  We have books to read aloud together, early readers and chapter books, Classics, reference books, bibles and bible storybooks (each of the children have their own), and some books that the children aren’t ready for but starting to collect them has created an appetite and anticipation for when they’ll get to enjoy them.

It’s our belief that if we expose our children to great writers, great thinkers, and great voices, via real and ‘whole’ books, it will enrich their lives.

With our young children, much of the learning they do is about hands-on experience, creative expression, satisfying their curiosity, finding opportunities to explore and discover (both in and out of our home, and using materials in a way that stirs that love of learning. Nature walks are especially fun for us, as we live in such a beautiful area close to the beach and different bush walks.

We love the ‘fine arts’ focus of a Charlotte Mason homeschool, and we have woven this into our learning times from when the children were young.  When they are young, it’s as simple as them telling back to me what they like in a painting, or what they enjoyed about a poem or story.  As they get older, the discussion times grow and provide great opportunities for observation, narration and learning.

One important area we are focusing on this year is to encourage the formation of good habits and cultivate loving relationships with their siblings.  Each of our children will be spending a certain amount of time with another sibling daily with a set activity.  I’m hoping this will go well!

Learning Styles

There is an excellent practical section on personalities and learning styles in Clay and Sally’s book that will assist in determining where your child sits.  I’m so looking forward to using this section with each of my children, so I can best understand them and adapt my teaching methods for their God-given uniqueness.

So that’s a little glimpse into how we are building the essential area of ‘learning’ in our wholehearted homeschool.

I hope you’re enjoying this series so far.  Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.

Wholehearted homeschool

NB.  These essentials are not laid out in this manner in Clay and Sally’s most excellent book, ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’ nor are they a summary of the books content. But rather this is what I’ve understood from reading their approach, and have used their words of wisdom and insight to develop our family’s own ‘wholehearted’ approach to our homeschooling.

You might also be interested in the other posts in this series:

{This post contains affiliate links}

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine {A Review}

TOS Graphic

After a full weekend of spring cleaning, a family outing to a local fair, making Jesse tree ornaments, and preparing for a rock pool trip tomorrow, I managed to sneak away and soak up the afternoon’s fading sunshine on the deck for half an hour to myself.

My choice of reading for today?  The Old Schoolhouse have published their November/December magazine issue online, with 176 pages packed full of homeschool encouragement, dozens of curriculum options and links, practical helps, and other great articles that pass on the best of what others have learned on their homeschooling journey.

If you’re not familiar with it, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is a FREE online magazine, published bi-monthly, and written for homeschooling families and mothers at all ages and stages of the home educating adventure.  It’s an absolute treasure trove of wisdom, advice, links and encouragement, with some of the most well known names in homeschooling contributing regularly.

There’s something for everyone!  Here were some highlights for me in this issue:

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine also has a FREE app available for Apple, Kindle, and Android users.  Although the magazine can be easily viewed on your laptop, you might enjoy the convenience and ease of use on your handheld device.

The Old Schoolhouse is also a fantastic place for homeschool resources in their online store, free downloads, the quarterly live Schoolhouse EXPO, the weekly ‘Homeschool Minute’, and reviews and recommendations from the TOS Review Crew.

If you’re a bit of a curriculum junkie like me and love to read about how others are incorporating fantastic products and curriculum in their homeschool, visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew website, which is a hub of reviews from a wealth of bloggers.  I always make the effort to seek out handfuls of honest reviews before purchasing any homeschool curriculum or resource as I want every purchase to count.  The TOS Review Crew has a great reputation in the homeschooling world for writing reviews that are trustworthy and thorough.

The highlight of my time out in the quiet, Android device in hand with the Old Schoolhouse on screen, wasn’t any particular article on its own – it was simply the experience of scrolling through the words of homeschoolers that understand our world, know what we’re trying to do with our children, and provide encouragement and help for me to make good decisions as I navigate my way through some unchartered waters.

Time well spent!

I’m currently being considered for the 2014 TOS Review Crew  – very exciting!  This review forms part of determining whether the Crew and I are a good fit for each other.  If you go to p166 of the latest issue, you can read some of the amazing products that the TOS Review Crew have reviewed in 2013.

TOS disclaimer

{Shared at Family Fun Friday}

Introducing ‘WinterPromise’ – A Unique Homeschool Curriculum


Reading ‘Children of Many Lands’ Together – a beautifully presented book on 30 countries (exclusive to WinterPromise)

I confess, I love researching homeschool curriculum as I’m constantly looking for the very best resources that suit our learning goals and our core values.  It’s not every day I come across one that really gets my attention, but here’s one that has.

WinterPromise has the best of everything.  It’s a literature-based curriculum with a Charlotte Mason twist and a touch of the Classical, and combines notebooking, worksheets and hands-on activities, journaling, mapping, and the best living books that will engage your child’s attention and stir a love of learning and of history.  I especially love the Christian perspective that encourages my child’s heart towards God and towards seeing opportunities in the world to love and serve.  That has been a real thrill for me, as I’ve seen my daughter’s awareness grow and her understanding widen to how others live.

WP 4

Looking at the stunning photographic displays of what families own in different countries around the world (in ‘Material World’)

We have been using resources from the ‘Children Around the World’ theme this year, and here are some of the highlights so far:

  • Eye-catching books that draw my children in, with beautifully written content. ‘Children of Many Lands’ is one particularly that’s a real treat for us.
  • Involving my younger ones in the reading times and cultural experiences.
  • Reinforcing our family’s core values in international justice and compassion issues.
  • Finding an age-appropriate outlet for prayerful discussion – some of the things we’ve read have given us some priceless opportunities that I’m grateful for.
  • The flexibility to do some things more in-depth when we want to


My friend who lives just a walk away is doing the full-year theme ‘Children Around the World’ and purchased mostly e-books, which made for a much more cost effective way being that we are outside the US.  She is a full-time missionary and wanted to widen her children’s worldview in this area.

There are currently 18 themes that will suit any interest and learning goals, and range from pre-K through to Senior High – have a look here. We have already picked some favourites for future years!

You can add Science and Language Arts programs to your themed full-year theme package, and WinterPromise also stock some quality Math programs and activity kits.

Finally, I thought I’d show you some photos from our recent English tea party (from a free WinterPromise study on Great Britain).  The kids loved this one.  Because I have English parents and we eat similar food anyway (and I wanted our tea party to be a little more special than normal), I took the opportunity to make some things we ate as children, and did a little family history lesson while we ate.  Naturally we also learned a little table etiquette also.  The kids learned about their English roots and most importantly we had lots of fun!  The girls especially loved drinking from  cups and saucers.  They have asked me to make some of our family favourites from when I was young, which I’ll do at some stage soon – Toad-in-the-Hole, Roast Beef with Yorkshire puddings, apple pie and custard, and bread and butter pudding.

WP English tea party (3)

WP English tea party (4)

WP English tea party (2)

If you’d like to find out more, start here for further information, free samples, and heaps more.

WinterPromise are having a Facebook party this Monday 30th September.  I encourage you to come along and learn more about them and win some of the dozens of prizes.  I hear that there’s going to be a special announcement.  I’ll be there – join me!

WinterPromise FB Party{Linked up at Ducks in a Row}

Keeping Your Eyes on the Big Picture

reallifehomeschooling-640x480I’ve had the privilege this week of guest posting for Candace at ‘His Mercy is New‘.

I’m not a veteran homeschooling Mum by any stretch of the imagination – we’ve been homeschooling for just 5 years.  But I hope I can pass on a few things that I’ve learned mostly through trial and error that will help you.

I have a confession to make – sometimes I yearn to know what the ‘other’ life is like.  What would it be like to dress up in pretty clothes and put on some make-up that isn’t dried out?  Or enjoy a second income and buy some brand new clothes?  Or best of all, take a blissful walk on the beach in solitude every day at sunrise, just myself and the Lord?  How would it be to just let someone else deal with the character issues in my children on a daily basis?  Some days, especially those after another disruptive night’s sleep, my enthusiasm wanes for tackling sibling interactions, preparing wholesome food, and keeping the learning consistent and productive. I find myself letting out a weary sigh and wondering how well I’m going to last the distance on this journey!

Gladly, I have never regretted our decision to home educate our children, as early on we established our ‘why’ with a strong conviction.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt utterly overwhelmed at times!

I’d love to share some of the things I’ve found have gotten me through more difficult days.”… continued here

To read the rest, please visit His “His Mercy is New: Real Life Homeschooling #20 – Keeping the Big Picture in Mind”

60 Activities for your Homeschool Group

60 activities for your homeschool group

The next school term is almost upon us, and with our homeschool group planning meeting coming up, I thought I’d brainstorm some ideas for things we can do with our young group for this term and beyond.

  1. Occupation Afternoon – dress up in different occupations. Have a parent speak on what they do
  2. Book Day – dress up as your favourite book character. Share a story with the Group.
  3. Crafts afternoon – either everyone bring something that they’re already working on, or do something all together.
  4. Learn to sew something simple – or a sewing demonstration if the group is large
  5. Bake some healthy food
  6. Winter Scavenger hunt
  7. Visit the Art Gallery
  8. Sugar Cube building
  9. Park or Playground Day
  10. Presentation Day – kids show something they’ve been working on, or a book they like to read
  11. Nature Walk – bring magnifying glasses, sketch pads, camera’s etc, and see what you can find
  12. Visit a nursing home and sing/recite
  13. Go to the airport
  14. Painting afternoon
  15. Up-cycling – bring along some old things, such as scraps of material/paper, and turn them into works of art.
  16. Obstacle course
  17. Orienteering
  18. Rock or shell collecting
  19. Plant seeds or plants
  20. Bless someone in your neighbourhood – do their gardens, wash their car and other odd jobs
  21. Kite flying day
  22. Board games
  23. How-to – learn how to do something new
  24. How things work – pull something to pieces and see how it works
  25. Exercise class
  26. Make and bake bread
  27. Beads
  28. Nature Art
  29. Simple Science (eg. Float/sink, looking at objects under microscope, etc)
  30. Learn and perform simple plays
  31. Team building (set an activity that they have to do in groups)
  32. Treasure Hunt
  33. Solve a Mystery
  34. Write a progressive story
  35. Make a newspaper
  36. Back-to-school picnic
  37. Hobby Day
  38. Ball games
  39. Sports day
  40. Fire Station visit
  41. Museum visit
  42. Library visit
  43. Zoo Visit
  44. Bush walk
  45. Beach walk
  46. Aquarium
  47. Historic houses/churches/monuments and local tours (finish with a picnic)
  48. Plan and perform a historical reenactment
  49. Visit a large local greenhouse
  50. Go bird-watching
  51. Visit a pottery studio
  52. Find a local factory and take a tour
  53. Visit an aviation museum
  54. Go to a bakery and see how bread is made
  55. Blueberry picking or something else at an orchard or farm
  56. Visit the local animal shelter
  57. Family Day – invite Dad’s, grandparents, and other important people in your children’s lives.  Share food together!
  58. Visit the local radio station
  59. Have a talented photographer friend (or one of the Mum’s) take photo’s of all the children in the park or somewhere special.  Take the opportunity to give the kids some tips for great photography.
  60. Visit a construction site and learn about the building process, site safety, and teamwork.

Do you have any activity ideas you’d like to share?


Why We Read Together

Why we read togetherI love books.  Both of my parents were avid readers and passed this love onto all three of their children.  And now I have the joy of instilling a love for the written word in my own children.  I love it that now I can see that love growing in them also.

Here are some reasons why I believe filling your home with family story-times, and stocking your shelves with plenty of quality books, is worthwhile:

  • First and foremost, the time that you spend together huddled up around a good book being read-aloud is what making joy-filled memories is all about.   One-on-one times reading to your children, as well as family story times altogether, will leave an imprint on your children’s hearts of quality time with Mum or Dad where everything else can wait and they are the most important priority in that moment.  Priceless.
  • Reading regularly will develop a love of reading in your children.  Reading is where they’ll discover other worlds, cultures, people, slices of life, and all kinds of knowledge that will enrich their life and teach them things that you alone cannot.
  • Exposing your children to well-written literature will expand their vocabulary and widen their understanding at so many different levels.  They will gain greater use of language and stretch their minds to develop their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Reading a variety of stories and great books will widen their worldview and create an unquenchable hunger for learning.
  • Reading about the different lives of people from all walks of life, both fiction and non-fiction, will create moments of opportunity to teach and guide your child.
  • Reading for a length of time will eventually lengthen your child’s attention span and teach them listening skills.

If you are unable to buy every book that you would love to read, consider making frequent use of your local library.

I’ve recently updated and added a number of book lists that I hope will give you some ideas of some titles to add to your home library.  Many of these we have, and others we hope to add soon.

You might also find this reading log useful.

Finally, here’s a great book that we are hoping to add to our bookshelf soon that provides more than a thousand worthy titles of wonderful stories for children of all ages:

Read for the Heart cover

Flying through ‘Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day’

Flying creaturesI never thought we would love science so much, but since using the Apologia series of books, we will never learn science in any other way!  Sometimes you just get the ‘right fit’ with curriculum.

Last year we did Apologia’s Astronomy and this year we are moving on with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  It has been such a turn-around from the dry and uninspiring program we used a couple of years ago.


I love how the accompanying notebook beautifully reinforces the information through different activities, from the use of copywork, colouring and crosswords, to labelling diagrams and completing lapbook-inspired activities.  The finished notebook will be something to treasure.

Aside from the fact that my daughter (7) is retaining a good amount of the factual content, she is also improving in her handwriting, comprehension, and spelling.  She even asked the other night if she could take her notebook to bed and do schoolwork during her reading time.  Not bad for an artsy kid.  🙂

It’s one thing to hear a great review but another to see it in operation. So I thought I’d put up some photos of what my daughter has completed recently.

Apologia (4) Apologia (6) website Apologia (7) website Apologia (8) website Apologia (9) website

Anyone else had great success with a science curriculum?

You might also be interested in this post: Apologia: Zoology 1 – Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day

{Linked up at Homegrown Learners (Collage Friday)}

Rediscovering the Joy of Maths

rediscovering the joy of maths using art

Like many other homeschooling Mum’s of creative artsty type children, we’ve had our challenges as of late with this area of learning.  It’s not even that my eldest (7) is not comprehending so much as it’s just dry and boring, and requires a little more effort than the breeze of reading that she’s come to know.  Some things in life just take effort, don’t they?  A good lesson for her.  🙂

But for the sake of her enjoyment (and the peace of our home), we are taking a month long break once finishing Math-U-See Alpha and before we start Beta, just to look over the basics again and make sure those foundations are solid for moving up a level.  Hopefully we can have some fun as well, and reclaim Maths as an enjoyable subject!

My approach is going to be two-fold: first, making maths meaningfulAnd second, combining maths with art.  My daughter has complained that Maths is not beautiful enough, so I’m hoping we can do a few fun things to help her learn.

So with some helpful tips from my friend Emma, a little bit of Pinterest inspiration, and a mix of my own ideas, I think we have a plan for the next month.

Here are some things we’re intentionally adding to our Maths learning:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Clock with numbers
  • Number flashcards
  • 100s Chart (actually displayed, not just tucked away in the cupboard :))
  • Mathtacular DVD #2 (we already have the first DVD from a Sonlight package and will re-watch some of the later lessons).
  • Sparkle Box printables
  • Beads on string (separated into 5s)
  • Magnetic letters
  • Math-U-See activity sheets for alpha
Mathusee art

Our first two ‘Alpha’ rules in art (not the best photo, but you should be able to see +0 at the top, and +1 at the bottom)

Using Art in Maths

We’re also using art to practice the Math-U-See Alpha sums (addition and subtraction).  Inspired by this pin yesterday my daughter drew +0 in the centre and wrote the sums on the outside (0+1=1, 0+2=2, 0+3=3, etc).  She really enjoyed it.  So since we had some momentum, we did the second one, +1, and the accompanying sums around the outside.  Each segment had about 4 or 5 sums.

We intend to use crayons and dye, scrapbook paper with different prints, ripped paper into mosaic tiles, sand and glue, stamps, and whatever else we can think of.

[You don’t have to be using Math-U-See for this to work:  you can always tweak the art project according to how your maths curriculum teaches the basic addition and subtraction sums]

Here are the sums that coincide with Math-U-See Alpha, and we’ll use this list for our art projects:

  • Adding 0
  • Adding 1
  • Adding 2
  • Adding 9
  • Adding 8
  • Adding doubles
  • Adding doubles plus 1
  • Adding to make 10
  • Adding to make 9
  • Randoms – 3+5, 4+7, 5+7
  • Subtract 0 and 1
  • Subtract 2
  • Subtract 9
  • Subtract 8
  • Doubles Subtraction
  • Subtracting from 10
  • Subtracting from 9
  • Randoms – 7-4, 7-3, 8-5, 8-3
  • Subtracting 7
  • Subtracting 6
  • Subtracting 5
  • Subtracting 3 and 4

We are marking the sums learned on the free printable charts on Math-U-See’s website (look under ‘Addition Fact Sheets’ and ‘Subtraction Fact Sheets’).

While we were doing this, my preschooler joined us at the table doing a similar activity – a page with a single number that she coloured or glued scraps on.  She feels pretty special to be learning her numbers and doing Maths like her big sister.

We’ll also be looking at doing some art with one number under 100 in the centre of a circle, and different ways of arriving at the number around the outside.

Please feel free to share things that have helped you in your Maths challenges!  I am an open book…

[You might be interested in my Pinterest Board: Home Educating – Maths for further ideas.]

maths website

{Linked up at Maths Games for Kids}