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Monday, December 25, 2017

Guitar Lessons for Kids

I love homeschool, but sometimes I worry about some of the extracurriculars. Thankfully there are several free resources to be found online.

My husband taught himself how to play in high school, and consequently used that talent to win me over, because who doesn't love a guitar player!?

 Each of my 10 year old sons have enjoyed learning to play piano for free at home, so we bought them their own guitars for Christmas!!!

  We love the Beginners Acoustic Guitar Kit , it has everything you need to start; with a bag, pick, strap, tuner, and plenty of extra strings. When we added these all up separately, this was a very good deal.

While my husband can play basic guitar, he isn't a trained guitar teacher. We decided to find a guideline to help the process. He is going to do one weekly lesson, with each boy, using these lesson plans and videos. He gets to be  our music teacher, with his own teacher manual!

We found for these well done Lesson plans, videos, and printables for beginning your kids on the guitar FOR ONLY $25!


Four Gifts at Christmas
Free Piano Lessons at Home: Hoffman Academy

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Roman Soldier Helmet

We are enjoying our study of Rome during Rome to Reformation.  The end of the Roman study calls for a roman feast and roman costumes.  To be honest, we haven't gotten to the feast yet, and we made these costumes during winter break, 2 weeks after we were supposed to, but that is just how homeschooling goes sometimes.

We found this tutorial online, but didn't have cardstock.  I solved this by printing on regular paper and using Aluminum Foil to cover all the pieces.

Materials Needed:
  • Roman Solder Helmet Printable (on regular paper is fine because you're covering with foil to stiffen)
  • Aluminum Foil (I bought the cheap stuff from Dollar Tree)
  • Stapler
  • Red marker or crayons
  • Scissors
 1. Print Roman Solder Printable

2. Children cut out pieces, coloring top red.

3. Assist your children in covering with foil, all except top of fridge.  Use pieces twice the size as the piece of paper, and fold over, creasing at edges.  It is OK if it's not the exact shape as your paper, it is just a guideline. 

4.  Staple pieces together on the spots where the templates indicates to glue.  Put on child's head to size straps before stapling. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Where Grief and Christmas Meet


This is supposed to be the best time of the year, yet where there is joy there is always pain.

Humans are allowed, and even designed, to feel two things at once. The mix of sorrow and joy at once is written all over the pages of Scripture, never more so in Jesus' story, from beginning to end.

We think of Christmas as the best time of the year, a story of unblemished joy to the world. There was sorrow in His coming to earth. As the shepherds rejoiced with angels, King Herod introduces unimaginable grief into the miracle story of  Jesus' birth.  Herod's jealousy and blind ambition meant that Jesus birth lead to deaths of innocent baby boys in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-23).

Joy and pain in one story. Suffering and a Savior, intertwined.

I feel the sorrow and the joy of Christmas sharply in my soul this year. The coming of our hope, our Savior, and the sorrow of sin and loss.

We unexpectedly lost my husband's brother last month to a tragic accident. He was only 36, and a father of 4 young children. He was a believer, who had fought hard for joy, true love, and healing, before his life was cut way too short. I am truly proud to have been his little sister for 15 years. We are utterly devastated.

The joy and pain go hand in hand. The beauty of our world is so intricately connected to the pain, so much that sometimes there is no separating them. You feel them both. They both hurt, but in different ways. The aching pain of his children growing up without him. The throbbing joy of his reunion with our Heavenly Father.

I keep crying, but one eye is filled with tears of grief, and the other tears of joy.  I honestly can't tell the difference anymore.

We never truly appreciate the beauty of this world without the sharp pain of the suffering. My grandma used to say, "You can't have the sweet without the sour."

I hate that I have this new appreciation for the holiday,  and detest the avenue in which it was learned, but it is a gift of perspective. The greatest gift God can give us, besides our salvation, is perspective.

I now know the pain of seeing a loved one pass away before my eyes, holding his hand and knowing he isn't there.

I also now know joy of knowing  that while I held his hand on earth, he is being embraced by the hands of his Savior.

Both pain and joy, sitting next to each other in my heart.  Extreme pain, extreme joy.

Today I fall on my knees, with both crushing grief and overwhelming thankfulness in equal measure. I hear the Gospel Story, and see my Savior.

-Written December 2017, one month after

By Sovereign Grace Music

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Humbly He lay, Creator come as creature,
Born on the floor of a hay-scattered stall.
True Son of God, yet bearing human feature,
He entered earth to reverse Adam's fall.
In towering grace, He laid aside His glory,
And in our place, was sacrificed for sin.

Fall on your knees! O hear the gospel story!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Come then to Him Who lies within the manger,
With joyful shepherds, proclaim Him as Lord.
Let not the Promised Son remain a stranger;
In reverent worship, make Christ your Adored.
Eternal life is theirs who would receive Him;
With grace and peace, their lives He will adorn.

Fall on your knees! Receive the Gift of heaven!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born

O night, O holy night when Christ was born

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gone To Heaven Folder- How To Show Love After You Die

I just want to start out saying that I HATE that I can now write this article from first-hand experience. My wish is still to be living in ignorance of the importance of a will, or even what probate court is, but I'm not.

I used to think making a will was just plain morbid, and almost a jinx. The thought of either of my husband or I passing was so painful, that I pushed the thought away and ignored the need for a will. Some weird part of my brain thought that if we wrote it, then something would happen to one of us.  In hindsight, I see it was as logical as thinking if you avoid the doctor, then you can't get cancer.  But it is how I felt. 

We know now it is a final act of stewardship and love. God has given us earthly possessions, and we need to be stewards of them, even after we pass. God has given us people in our lives, for good or bad, who will need to deal with our possessions when we have gone ahead to Heaven. 

We lost my brother-in-law to a freak accident in November 2017.  He was in perfect health, only 36 years old, with a fiance and four minor children.  He had zero reason to think he would be going to Heaven any time soon.  Thankfully, we know that is exactly where he went, to his Heavenly Father. That knowledge is the only way we survive the grief. But that knowledge did not make the logistics of his passing easier.

He was a wonderful provider in life and death, and left his children a very generous life insurance policy he left for his children.  He was passionate about life insurance, and even sold us our life insurance policy,  but even though we able to easily locate his life insurance policies among his papers (and pass those along to the mother of his children), we were never able to find a will.

I asked my family if I could share this information, and our sincere wish in sharing our experience is to help in anyone's future grieving process. Your loved ones will need time to grieve you.  The more decisions that have to be made, the less time they can focus the grief process in a healthy way.

In Your Gone To Heaven Folder

After my brother-in-law's passing, my father-in-law shared that they have a "Gone to Heaven" folder. It includes more than just his will; it takes all the decisions out of your loved ones grief process.  His church urges the men in of the congregation to do this, and I am so thankful for that push towards stewardship and love. 

They tell you there are a lot of decisions after someone passes, but I had no idea how many.  I thought once you arrange the funeral, (which itself takes several emotionally exhaustive days), you are done. But no, that is only the beginning

Think of your Gone to Heaven Folder as a way to show love to the ones left behind, to take care of them even when you aren't there to do it yourself.  Of course, we know my brother loved us while he was here.  This past year he affirmed that more than any other time, ironically we had never all been closer than in the 10 months before he passed, but the logistics after his passing made the grieving process difficult. 

1.Last Will and Testament & Living Will

It will take some time to put your will together, but it will be a TINY fraction off the time your loved will have to take after your departure. Do not wait.

A scribbled napkin with your wishes is not legal. In Indiana, You need a document that is signed in front of at least two witnesses (check your states laws), preferably in front of a notary.  Better to have it signed in front of a notary, because without notary, those witnesses will be called into court to testify they saw you sign it (and court is not free). It does not matter if you are happily married or engaged with a wedding date planned, NEVER assume what happens to your estate.  I am not a lawyer, just sharing the tidbits we've learned through this process. 

Orally expressing your wishes is not legal.   It does not matter that you told a loved one your wishes!  We knew my brother's wishes, but we didn't have it specifically in writing.  Each member of our family, and his fiance, had had a conversation in the past few months with our brother about who he wanted, and more specifically who he didn't want, involved with his business and even allowed in his house, but legally, it is all hear-say. Change your will whenever you have a big life changes; like a divorce, engagement, or estrangement.

As a wedding photographer, I saw for a decade how weddings bring out the BEST  and WORST in people.  I have recently learned funerals do the same.  It is understandable, grief distorts our perspectives, but let's face it, there are just people in the world, who will exploit even a death. 

No legal will equals the government getting involved. In Indiana, our state, if you die without a will,  your estate will most likely go to probate . Probate means the government WILL get a  chunk of your estate, in the name of helping settle who is executor of the estate. They will most likely name your spouse as executor, but not before they take a chunk out in lawyer fees and court costs.   The last resort is probate. 

Probate will take a chunk of the estate, no matter who is appointed executor. Probate court doesn't care about the deceased wishes, it cares about if creditors get paid. Probate won't make sure money gets put into trusts for kids, or is managed according to the deceased wishes. Probate court makes sure creditors paid, period. 

Ways to make a will include:
  • Hire a lawyer.  It will take an experienced lawyer  maybe an hour or two to draw up a will for you.  The ONE to TWO BILLABLE HOURS you pay will be so much less than the COUNTLESS BILLABLE HOURS & COURT COSTS your loved ones will have to pay after your passing. 
  • Use online legal service. My husband and I used Legal Zoom in the short term until we can meet with a lawyer.  This is a stop gap measure for us.  You will still need to get it notarized and signed with witnesses. 
2. Personal Information/Passwords

There is no one whose job it is after a  death to  track down all the the accounts that need to be managed or paid (no one who does it for free at least)

Death Certificates do not arrive the day of death, so do not assume loved ones will be given access to your accounts or phone immediately. Many times, it takes several weeks for death certificates to be mailed.

You of course are keeping this information in a secure location, that is known to your trusted loved ones and executor of your will. 

Examples of items needed:

  • Phone Password (your thumbprint may not work)
  • All your email accounts and passwords
  • Any online accounts your have
  • social media passwords (optional)
  • bank pin 
  • life insurance information 
  • List of monthly bills and how you pay them (do you pay online, where do you keep your files, is your mortgage taken out automatically, etc).  This of course will change more often than other items, but will give your loved ones a good place to start.
  • passwords to any safes in the house, especially gun safes
  • Side note-If you have a "role" in your family, make sure others know how to do it. My husband and I sat down last week and he showed me how to pay the monthly bills. 

3. Your Burial and Funeral Preferences

Once you are done, this section is where you add your favorite quotes, song, poem, picture for obituary, etc. We learned how hard this planning process was.  It takes several days; no bills get paid, no texts get returned.  You get stuck on on their obituary wording, and every other little detail that reminds you they are gone. Some of the planning was cathartic,  but so much of it just kept reminding us we were not in a dream.  

My husband and I personally haven't finished this section, but I have started it at least.  I asked for the song I sang when I decided to give my life to Jesus, "I Surrender All". Also included a few of my favorite quotes from Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis. 

My father-in-law has already written his obituary.  While it may seem morbid to you, it is a huge relief to me to know his voice will still be present after he departs for Heaven.

4. Letters to your children and loved ones (optional)

I haven't finished this yet.  And that is OK.  I know my family will not have to deal with the logistics of my passing, and they will be able to focus on the many ways I show them I love them already.

This is the hardest part, and honestly the least important logistically. If this step is too emotionally hard for you, and delays you from putting together this folder, please skip it for now.  You can always come back to it, but the other logistical items will show love to those left behind by helping them not question their decisions. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Beef, Bean, and Rice Freezer Burritos

I made these after our family had taco night, so I already had the meat and rice made! I just doubled all my ingredients, then put these together after dinner!


*1 lb ground beef
*Taco seasoning
*2/3 cup of water
*Refried Beans (15 oz can)
*Flour tortillas, 8 inches

Rice ingredients
*2 cups chicken broth
*1 cup white rice
*1 tbsp olive oil
*1/2 cup salsa

1. Cook ground beef, drain grease. Add taco seasoning and water, and cook until water is absorbed.

2. Add oil in medium pan, cook rice until slightly brown. Add chicken broth and salsa & bring to boil, then reduce and Cook for 15 min. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

3. Warm refried beans

4. Soften tortillas by warming in microwave. Assemble burritos by adding about two spoonfuls of beef, beans, and rice.

5. Roll burritos and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in freezer grade ziploc bag.

To Warm:
Remove plastic wrap, and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Sometimes I poke the middle once with a fork to make sure it heats evenly.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What doesn't kill you...

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"
This proverb is so well known, that even my kids know it. I'll admit I have sang Kelly Clarkson's song "Stronger" at the top of my lungs multiple  times in my car. Even so, there is something that sometimes feel a little false about this saying.

I recently read a twist on the well-known saying that struck a nerve; "What doesn't kill you gives you unhealthy coping mechanisms and a dark sense of humor." I laughed out loud because it was true of me for so long. I still have a dark sense of humor, because humor is a way to survive pain. In high school, when I was living with an emotionally abusive and mentally ill mother, I said my life could have been a great sitcom, albeit a somewhat dark comedy that probably would now be on HBO. :)

Personally, I am learning that those things that almost killed me (emotionally, spiritually, & physically) eventually make me stronger, but first made me less willing to admit my weakness, and try live in my own existing strength.

Maybe as Christians we should rethink this phrase.
Here is my suggestion:
"What doesn't kill you, makes you deeply grateful there is someone much stronger."

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me"
1 Cor 12:9

Monday, October 23, 2017

How to Fight Winter Blues while Homeschooling

The key to fighting winter blues is to start the fight EARLY before they begin!

 It's mid October and that time of year again in Northern Indiana, time to break out my HappyLight during morning coffee! My doctor told me to begin light therapy close to Halloween. I followed his advice 2 years ago, and felt a difference in my normal winter blues.  Last year I waited until Christmas,  and it was too late.  Seriously,  order now and help winter blues before they begin!!!

 I use my light 20 minutes to an hour each morning as I drink my coffee, read my teacher's manual, and read my Bible. Sometimes I even keep it on as I begin our Together Time, and my kids benefit too. My husband starting using it during his devotionals, and he said he noticed a difference too.

The light wakes you up, and tells your brain it's morning. It helps maintain healthy circadian rhythms through the long dark days of winter. Without the light, I tend to stay up later, and sleep in later, leading to lethargy and depression.

Winter can be a beautiful time for solitude, but solitude is not the same as isolation.  Isolation is a dangerous place to be. Make sure that you are not becoming isolated during the long gray months of winter. No relationship is based on accident.  We must be intentional about the friendships in our lives.

Many people ask how my kids make friends.  My answer is usually that my kids have to actually learn what adult friendship look like, their friends are not delivered to them by proximity.  We have to be intentional with getting out and spending time with friends.  It is quality time, versus quantity.

The same intentional mindset must be made for Homeschooling moms.  I don't care if you are an introvert or raging extrovert, no man is an island.  We are designed for relationship.

Some ideas could include, a monthly or weekly playdate with a few other homeschool moms.  Don't worry about school that day, throw the lessons out, and focus on relationships.

Yes, we all know this one, but it is so important.  This can go hand in hand with intentional relationships. Find another homeschool mom and make them your walking friend.  It doesn't take hours of strength training to keep up your spirits in the winter.  Just walk a mile or two slowly with a  friend a few times a week.
"If you want to go fast, go by yourself.  If you want to go far, go with a friend."
Maybe find a homeschool friend with a teenager, and you can pay them to watch the kids while you walk the mall.  Just stay active.

My doctor once told me he  believed flu season was directly correlated to Vitamin D Deficiency. Vitmain D Deficiency symptoms are very close to depression. Please talk to your doctor before starting in supplements.
I don't believe in multi-vitimains. I take the supplements that fit my personal needs, and Vitamin D is one of them. I am a pale woman living in Northern Indiana, I do not get enough sun. I take 2,000 IU a day, EVERY DAY ALL YEAR LONG. I don't sun bathe and never leave the house without sun block (or I would be a lobster), so I need to build up Vitamin D throughout the year, not just try to jam pack it into the winter months. Just like light therapy, start taking a small dose of Vitamin D BEFORE the winter blues hits.

I hope this helps someone.  Fight the winter blues before they begin!

You may also be interested in:
Isolation versus Solitude

What is a homeschool co-op?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies- Dairy & Egg Free

1 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup oil, plus 1 teaspoon oil
1 banana, mashed
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 1⁄4 cups oats
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup raisins

Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
In a separate bowl mix together the brown sugar, sugar, oil, and water.
Add the banana.
Stir in the flour mixture and mix well.
Stir in the oats.
Stir in raisins.
Chill in fridge for hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Drop cookies by the tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet.
Cook for 13 minutes until done (they should be a bit browned on the bottom).

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pros & Cons- MFW Creation to The Greeks

We are definitely a My Father's World Family, but that doesn't mean we don't tweak the curriculum every year to fit our family.  Everyone has their own pros and cons, so my pros may be your cons.  Please comment below how you tweaked CttG to work for your family!

Bible and History are VERY linked  this year. You will have a thorough look into the Old Testament, and what was happening in the Ancient World during our most well known Bible Stories.  This was extremely helpful, even to me as an adult.  If you have done MFW 1st grade, there will feel like a lot of repeats, but it is more in depth, with world history added.

  • Journey through the Bible  adds ESSENTIAL historical context to all the Bible Stories you read this. As you read about their every day lives, it makes the people in the stores real people, instead of a character in a book.  This is a book that I honestly feel like all Christian families should have. My kids still remember SO much from this book.
  • Ancient World was very kid friendly, with easy to read info and colorful illustrations.  No matter the age, it works great. Usborne never disappoints. 
  • The Jewish feasts added a depth to the OT study, using the book Celebrating Biblical Feasts. We did end up staggering these throughout the year.  Many of the feasts are right the beginning of the year, and felt overwhelming.  My suggestion is  1.) look ahead and be OK with spreading out your feasts; you can do the Sabbath feast anytime throughout your year (not just the week it is scheduled)  2.)Read through the whole feast before buying supplies.  We did only some parts of each feast, like challah bread and ceremony during Sabbath, but not traditional Sabbath meal. 
  • TEACHER'S MANUAL- Egyptian and Greek Studies were really fun, and added historical context again to the Bible Stories we all know.  The activities were usually low key, without tons of extra items to be bought, but memorable enough to help the children really experience the concept.  For example, we played the Egyptian game of Senet, and it was included in the student sheets.  I will mention that Egypt felt like it lasted a very long time (almost the entire first half of the school year), and like the Jews wondering int he Wilderness, I was ready to leave  Egypt when it as time. That said, my kids never got sick of Egypt.  And since Egypt was so deeply influential to the Ancient World, I am thankful we have a solid foundation of their place in history.
  • Student Sheets-Complete a timeline and create a history notebook, which includes a page for each major event or person, map work, and illustrations to color.  The maps alone make understanding the ancient world so much easier.  The timeline is also extremely similar to if you did MFW 1st grade, but with added historical events that were happening in the Ancient World.  I highly recommend doing the timeline, so you can see when historical events happen in the biblical timeline.
  • Streams of Civilization, while a very interesting read for me as an adult, sometimes went over the kids' head.   It would be great if you have a history fanatic, or older elementary/middle schooler. Take the advice in the manual, and read before hand so that you may summarize if you have anyone in 3rd grade or younger tagging along.  Also it is very important to be OK with not much retention of details in SoC.  If my kids could recall what happened in Ancient World, then I felt that was appropriate for their age level (they are in 4th grade).  SoC add great details and context, but it is OK if they don't memorize all that. You must remember they will be learning all of this in more depth in High School, and these years are to introduce to the bigger context of History. 
  • Student Sheets- The Maps and Timeline are well worth buying the students sheets,  but I was frustrated with the amount of notebook pages you have to create on your own. Look ahead and be prepared each week. There were several weeks when I was caught off guard, and would quickly have to make and print a notebook page, or we would skip it all together because I am just that Mom.
  • Book Basket- Book Basket is usually our absolute favorite part of the MFW, but this was one of the first time I can say we barely used the book basket lists.  I think this is due to the year long heavy focus on Old testament stories.  There were multiple weeks where I didn't use any of the books.  When we would focus more on Egypt and Greeks, I was able to get more books, but even then the list was not the most helpful.  I would recommend all moms doing this study to join the Facebook Group for CttG for several free booklists!

  •  Pyramids- We REALLY enjoyed learning the science related to the pyramids using the book Pyramids. The book itself included simple to execute hands-on activities, like making a pyramid from play dough and straws. My kids still talk about how the pyramid is the strongest shape.
  •  We were just not fans of the Creation based science  this year, and almost skipped it entirely.  I say this not because don't believe in Creation based science, but because  many of the experiments were redundant from either years past, or information my children already knew because we are a very outdoorsy family that has visited every nature Center in a 200 miles radius of our home.  We are a science loving family,  and met that need naturally through other avenues. 
7th and 8th graders, use Apologia science instead of the above (purchase separately). We are in 5th grade, so not applicable to us.

Art and Music

  • There were several hands on art projects through the year schedule in the teacher's manual.  We did most of these, with success and fun had by all.
  • We again skipped the Music appreciation lessons focus on Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel with easy-to-use CD's (in the Deluxe Package). I am sure they were good, we just never seem to fit them in. 


  • We enjoyed The Children's Homer, as well as fables from Aesop's Fables for Children. That said, many became bedtime stories or audio books during lunch, because they were sometimes hard to fit in during school day. Each book added great context to the Greek Study.
  • We all LOVED Books by Patricia St. John (The Tanglewoods' Secret, Treasures of the Snow, and Star of Light) inspire children to live the Christian life (in the Deluxe Package). I highly recommend getting these, either in paper book or audio form. 

  • We have never had great luck with MFW recommend Math. We use Math U See, you can see our review here.

Language Arts 
These are based upon MFW recommendations. Foreign language is optional but highly recommended. We have not had time to really fit one in yet.

  • Roots Words-  This might have been one of my favorite parts of this year's study.  Root word were simple to learn, but so important to future vocabulary skills.  My kids and I love learning entomology of words we use everyday. 
  • Language lessons for Today, Grade 4-  We again enjoyed LLFT, because it is a gentle Charlotte Mason approach to language arts.  Some years past have felt almost too light, but I think the 4th and 5th grade are beginning to pick up, at an age appropriate level. 
  • Writing Strand- Level 3.  We had some mixed feelings about this book, but overall I would recommend.  At first the instructions were confusing to all of us, but once we learned the flow of the book, we got the hang of it.  We personally never did "Record of Progress" page at the end of each exercise.  My kids can sometimes be reluctant writers, so I wanted this to be a fun time of exploring the beginnings of writing. I do recommend following the manual's advice and doing every other week.

Our Add-Ons and Supplements 

  • Free Online Piano Lessons- The curriculum provides music appreciation, but no actual music lessons.  We remedy that with Free Piano lessons through Hoffman Academy

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pros & Cons MFW Adventures IN U.S. History

As many of you know, we have been using My Father's World since Kindergarten.  We really love them, and can't imagine using other curriculum.  That said, there are always some parts of each year that work for our family, and some that don't.  Please take these as just our experience. Your family may seem of our pros as cons, or vice versa.  


History We always love the History sections of MFW, and it is usually my favorite part of the teacher's manual. 
  •  Story of the U.S. and American Pioneers and Patriots  were great living books, each week my kids asking to read more than assigned for that day.  The books were very age appropriate and kept them engaged. 
  • The many other History books, such as North American Indians, were all very kid friendly and informative. 
  • The student sheets and sticker books were also fun, and very easy to use.  
  •  We still use the map placement in school, almost every day. 
Bible  Learning the names of Jesus was informative, and always tied easily with s science lesson.  For example, when we learned that Jesus was the Bread of Life, we also learned about yeast. The Bible Memory wasn't too daunting this year, like we have seen in later years of the family cycle. 
  • The Book First Encyclopedia of Science was very fun, and kid friendly.  We also printed a list of Magic School bus episodes, found on MFW facebook page. 
  • We also enjoy the student sheets and the Bird Nature Study using Birds, Nests, and Eggs because it actually tied to the study of the states.  Each time you study a state bird, you study that bird.  We went on several nature walks, but were never that great about note booking. 
  • The Fun with Magnets set was also used a lot, but mostly in just free exploration. 
Language Arts- 
  • We like Language Lessons for TodayWe really enjoy the gentle introduction to English and grammar.  We tried a traditional approach on recommendation from a friend, and it was way too much repetition for us. 
  • Spelling by Sound and Structure has also been a wonderful curriculum that goes perfectly with our second grade workboxes.
Music appreciation lessons that focused on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker were fun, and went along with our field trip to see the Nutcracker (in the Deluxe Package). We listed to the CDs while we colored the History Student Sheets. In the student sheets & on a CD, you get to learn some simple patriotic songs that were very fun.
Read-Alouds These were almost a Con. The books themselves (The Courage of Sarah, Noble On the Banks of Plum Creek, Sarah Whitcher's Story, In Grandma's Attic, Mountain Born, Farmer Boy) were all great, but we never seemed to get to them during the day, so I started a chapter at bedtime. When that didn't work on a consistent schedule, we got them them in audio book from the library and it turned them into a Pro! Farmer Boy was our favorite, especially if you have young boys.  This was great for along car ride to our in-laws, or for playing while my kids ate their lunch.

Book Basket This year's book basket list was well done and we used at least a few of the books every week. I do not read these books to the kids, they read themselves from the library basket.  The books from each state always helped them go into more depth than I could manage to fit in during our Together Time. Like always, I use it as my jumping off point for my library search. I reserve all my books online, and pick them up once every 2 weeks. 

 Art I Can Do All Things (in the Deluxe Package) wasn't for us.We did about half of the beginning lessons, and they were interesting, but we just never got that into these lessons.  Granted,m we didn't have the DVDs. We stopped, and switched to Draw Write Now , which my kids LOVED; so much that we ended up using all through third grade Exploring Countries and Cultures.  
Math We have never had great luck with MFW recommend Math. We use Math U See, you can see our review here.
Science  Science in the Kitchen and Science with Air. We also didn't use the Soda Bottle Bird Feeder, and just used Toilet Paper Rolls, with peanut butter and bird seed. These books never connected to the curriclum, and just didn't' seem like they had much meaning or depth.

Stack the States App  -Inexpensive app that we used ALL THE TIME.  My husband and I even play on it a lot!
Scrambled StatesSimple board game about America, so easy that 2nd graders can play easily without much assistance after first time. 
Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series- Great for sick days, and on those long winter days stuck inside!

Draw Write Now with MFW Adventures

Second Grade Workboxes MFW

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

5th grade workboxes- Rome to Reformation

We  have been using workboxes since 2nd grade, and still love them.  Each year we adjust for our needs and growing independence, but I can't imagine going back.   This system has been about fostering independence in learning, while allowing me to work one-on-one with each child when needed.

We still use  My Father's World for 5th grade, we are on Rome to Reformation of the family cycle this year.  We use our own choices for Art, Math, Spelling, and Music (see contents of workboxes for our choices).

Together Time is done with ALL the kids in your house, before individual subjects begins.  It is usually done on the couch in our house.
  • HISTORY- Usually reading, and maybe a project from the teacher's manual, like Roman Helmets 
I keep my manual in a bag next to the couch, along with the books for the week.  
Making clay tablets for history.  My kids like to work on the game chest in the living room, instead of dining room table.

Each child has his own 10 Drawer Cart, with a different order to each subject.  The different order allows me to work one-on-one with them for Math and Language Arts.  

The varying order also enables me to play on their strengths, and weaknesses.  I learned that I have to put art in the last workbox for one of my children, because he will get so sidetracked drawing that he will forget to do the rest of his work.  My other child seems to do better with Math earlier in the morning, so I make sure it is one of his first workboxes.
The box stays pulled out for whatever subject they are working on.
This gives me and them a visual idea of where they are in their morning.
BOX 1. Science
We usually do science during together, but use the workbox for storage of their notebooks, body models, or science worksheets.

BOX 2. Root Words
English from the Roots Up- We usually do root words during together, but use the workbox for storage of their work.

BOX 3.  History
MFW Rome to Reformation Notebook Pages.  Again, we usually do these during together time, but the workbox is where we store the, when done.

BOX 4. Math
We have used Math U See since kindergarten, and love it!

BOX 5.  Art
This can be a myriad of items: ours is usually a page from Draw and Write Through History  or a page from Minecrafters: Math Coloring Book  (Math Drills disguised as art)!

BOX 6. Spelling
We love  Spelling - By Sound and Structure - Grade 5. It is almost completely done independently throughout the week, with a test each Friday.  I also like that it makes my children practice their cursive.

BOX 7. English
 Language Lessons for Today- Grade 5, recommended by MFW.  I do this subject individually with each child, but I leave a blank notebook in this work box.

BOX 8. Writing
 Writing Strands, Level 3 & Writing Strands, Level 4. I leave a blank notebook in this work box.

BOX 9.Music/Piano 
 We have used FREE piano lessons Hoffman Academy since 2nd grade.

BOX 10. Typing
 Can not say enough good things about .  You can make your own teacher portal, and kids get their own sign ins. During typing, they have to do 3-5 screens, then they are allowed to play 10 minutes of typing games (also on the website)

Typing time.

I used to put a note in each work box, but I learned it was a lot of work to write a different assignment on 10 different boxes each day. I can now put assignments on the daily agenda.  This is a lot less work for me. The work boxes are still an essential, because they dictate each child's order, and store all their books and papers. 
Our Daily Agenda
Our English, Drawing Through History, and Writing Stands Books are all stored next to agenda.




Why we chose My Father's World

Homeschool Room Clock Tutorial