Christmas Gift Ideas Part 2

If you read last week’s post, Christmas Gift Ideas, I promised a list of homeschooling curriculum that could easily pass as gifts under your Christmas tree.  Mary and I talked again on Friday and came up with some ideas. These are the nice-to-haves, the supplemental things, the stuff I often pass on in July when I am ordering all of the core subjects.   (A few disclaimers – Most of the links go to Amazon.   My advice would be to shop around for the best prices.  Secondly, I only gave one example from the series in the interest of space and time.  If you have a specific item you are looking for from something I mentioned, drop me a comment and I will do my best to get you a link.)

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Christmas Gift Ideas

On Friday, Mary and I were having our weekly chat and both had the same question…What on earth are you getting your kids for Christmas that doesn’t involve LEGOs or plastic toys made in China?  Now I have to preface this with neither of us have anything against LEGOs or plastic toys, but we are both inundated by them.  Admittedly the Grinch sneaks into my heart this time of year as I threaten to either throw out all the toys or tell everyone I know that there is a toy ban on our household.  Truth be told some of each will end up at both of our houses this Christmas no matter how hard we try to avoid them.  That being said, we are both looking for creative gift ideas.   We spent an hour mulling over this topic (at least that is what we told our kids so we could have some uninterrupted mom chat time) and here is what we came up with.  Continue reading “Christmas Gift Ideas”

Homeschooling the Large Family in a Small Space

Is it possible to homeschool a large family in a small home? How about homeschooling eleven kids in a three bedroom house? Today’s post is an interview with Helen Helmers, a homeschooling mom whom I have long admired. She shares with us her experiences and the valuable lessons she has learned as a homeschooling mother of a large family.

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Words to Welcome a Down Syndrome Baby

The moment I first held baby Junior, I looked into his eyes and I knew there was something different about him. “I wonder if he has Down Syndrome” I thought. But I quickly brushed the idea from my mind and revelled in the joy of holding our newborn.

The next day, the kids came to the hospital to see their long-awaited baby brother. They could barely contain their excitement. But they had to wait and wait and wait, since Junior was in the nursery with the pediatrician. He was taking an awfully long time. When my husband finally returned with the baby, the children were ecstatic. As they surrounded my daughter, who was holding little Junior, my husband whispered into my ear, “The doctor says the baby has Down Syndrome.”

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Sewing Easy All Saints Day Costumes

With one of our favorite Feast Days just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you some of our saint costumes. Mind you, these are not professionally made costumes. These are the “not perfect but good enough” projects of a busy mom who has to make four costumes in one weekend or so. After several years of making these, I’ve come up with a method to the maddness. Here are five tips for sewing All Saints Days costumes which I hope  you may find useful.

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When Homeschooling is Hard

How was your first month of homeschooling this year?

Here’s how ours began: at 4am in the morning of our first official day of school, Sparky came running into our room. “I’m sick!” he gasped. Then he rushed into the bathroom and threw up.

The rest of the day went downhill from there… or rather uphill, as in rolling a boulder up a hill. That’s how much effort it takes to begin a new routine and get the kids back into the school groove. That first day of school, I felt like a zombie trying to herd a pack of monkeys. As soon as one child would settle down to work, another would get up and wander off. Or one would complain that the work was too hard, or start drumming on his desk. All day long I found myself barking, “Sit down! You’re not done your work!”, “Stop talking and focus on your math!”, and “DON’T WAKE THE BABY!”

By the end of the day, I was in the doldrums of discouragement. And I was asking myself, Why is homeschooling so hard? What am I doing wrong?

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Report Cards

For my first several years of homeschooling I did not keep track of my kids’ grades.  I corrected their work and made them fix their mistakes but did not maintain a grade book. I had a general idea of where they were at and what they needed to improve, so it seemed like more work for me.

About 5 years ago, I decided to prepare report cards for a number of reasons.  My homeschool evaluator encouraged me to.  I wanted to confirm my assumptions about their progress.  Finally, my kids were wanting to win a prize at the dentist office based on their report cards. What I did not realize was the incredibly positive effect the report cards would have on our homeschool.

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Story of Civilization Book List and Pictures

Have any of you used the new Story of Civilization curriculum from Tan? This year, our family will be delving into Ancient History. In past years, I was quite satisfied with using the popular Story of the World, vol. 1 for teaching Ancient History. This year, because I really like the audio CDs, we’ll be using the Catholic version, Story of Civilization.

Yes, I ordered the whole kit and kaboodle – activity book, test book, teacher’s guide, time line, CD’s, and text book. Everything except for the DVDs. When the books came in the mail, everything looked great… except for one thing: when I looked at the teacher’s guide, there was no book list of recommended reading for each chapter! Picture books and novels are really what makes history come alive. So….

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Our Homeschool Room

As promised, here is a tour of our homeschool room. When I first began homeschooling my two oldest, we lived in a town house. We turned our finished basement into a little school room with a table, cabinets, and a chalkboard. After a  year or two of that, I got tired of spending most of our waking hours in a basement that hardly had any natural light. We moved up to the dining room and kept the kids’ books in bins on the sideboard table. The toddlers played in the adjoining living room while the bigger kids studied at the dining room table. When our fifth baby was born, we began to feel a little crunched in our townhouse. So a few years ago, we moved into a house that allowed us to have a school room on the main floor:

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WWII, the Battle of Britain, and Great Summer Reading

Well, she’s done it yet again. My daughter Carolyn (aka Big-Sis) has written another novel. As the oldest of six kids and an avid reader, she knows what makes a book appealing. My boys devoured this one.

The Badge of Kenley’s Legend is a historical fiction that takes place in England during WWII. A plucky orphan boy  overhears a German spy’s ploy to destroy the Royal Air Force Kenley, the base where his beloved brothers are stationed. Stuck in the countryside as an evacuee, he sets out to warn his brothers in order to save them from impending doom.

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