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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Embracing the Teen Years


First steps, first words, first birthday . . .
We celebrate these milestones and look forward to them from the day our children are born. The teen years seem so far away, but they arrive before we know it.
Many homeschool parents look upon the teen years with dread. They worry about how they’ll teach more difficult subjects, how hard it will be to keep track of grades, and [gulp] Driver’s Ed. Unfortunately, some parents believe that they cannot even continue to homeschool the teen yearsWhat if my teen is weird and unsocialized for life?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Real Kids Read: The House of Sixty Fathers


I've been teaching a teen literature group for a few years and just started a group for our elementary-aged kids. We are reading books that fit the same themes as the teen group and going on the same field trips together, but we're meeting separately for the book discussions.

Our first book is The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert Dejong, which the teens read a year ago (see my posts about what we did here and here).

This poignant book was a big hit with the kids, and we enjoyed immersing ourselves in WWII history and Chinese culture. We attended two field trips to accompany this book: the American Legion War Museum where we met and talked to real life WWII veterans (AWESOME!), and a field trip to a small airport. (More about these field trips coming soon.}

We found China on the map and traced the path of the Japanese invasion. We discussed the background history of the book and the author's life. 

Here's a recap of our House of Sixty Fathers discussion and hands-on learning activities: 


Show and tell table: photos, letter, and dog tags from my great uncle, a WWII airman; money and photos from another uncle who worked in China, 
and a few things from the book, like rice, Tien Pao's duck, and chocolate.


Fortune cookies and chocolate to eat!


Eating rice with chopsticks. 


Making planes and flying them in the yard.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Shop a Homeschool Convention



The homeschool convention vendor hall is full of eye-candy, and in my opinion it is a lot more fun than the mall! After reading homeschool catalogs and pondering the best products for our family, it is a real treat to get to look through materials and speak with the vendors in person.

My kids would tell you that their favorite parts of the vendor hall are the free pens and pencils and all the other cool giveaways at the booths. My absolute favorite thing about the whole experience is the excitement and enthusiasm we all feel when walking the hall and seeing all the learning potential. My kids get excited about new books and materials (I know, homeschoolers are weird), and that enthusiasm carries over into our classroom when we get home and can try them out. The convention is a great starting point to plan for next school year.

For some specific tips for surviving the convention hall, see my article over at Homeschool Survival!

   Highlights from this year's conference:

  • After picking up a few things from Queen Homeschool, I was looking forward to visiting them again. The Printing With Pictures book from Queen that I bought last year was my youngest son's favorite book to work with this year. Sandi Queen talked with me at her booth and made a personalized recommendation for us. One of the benefits of a convention is getting to meet the authors of the curriculum and ask questions directly.
  • I got to chat with Diana Waring and learn all about her unique curriculum that brings history alive for students. She and Dr. Jay Wile presented a session together, and it was especially convicting and timely. They talked about the importance of argument! They explained how it is a good thing when your student questions things they read and hear, and they showed how these are opportunities for teaching students discernment, as well as respect for others' opinions.

  • For my high schooler, we visited the Sonlight booth to take a look at their upper level high school books. We also bought his dissection supplies and specimens (yuck!) for Biology at the Nature's Workshop booth. It was fun to visit all the college tables and see what's available for dual enrollment opportunities. 
Up close and personal with a beast at the Creation Ministries booth.

A full year of English with The Lord of the Rings. Yes, please!

  • Attending the sessions is a treat, and I find them a great way to learn more about different curriculum and teaching methods. I came home with Dr. Wile's new elementary science curriculum after attending a couple of his sessions. We even got him to sign and dedicate the book for us! Now it's a treasure.


Home Educating Family has some free convention downloads to help keep you on track at your homeschool conference. Get a Convention Schedule and a Curriculum Checklist to take with you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hearts for Home Blog Hop #60


Welcome to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop!

Every Thursday over 20 bloggers host the Hearts for Home Blog Hop
The blog hop runs from Thursday through Wednesday, so please be sure to stop back by and share your family friendly posts throughout the week! As wives and moms, our hearts are to be focused on our homes, and we all can use inspiration and encouragement from time to time! 
So please share your posts on topics such as: faith, homemaking, marriage, homeschooling, crafts, DIY projects, recipes, parenting, and anything else that can be an encouragement to someone!  

The most popular post from last time was:



The Lord Looks at the Heart
from First Comes Love

Check out some of my favorite posts from last time:


A Hug for You, Tired Mama
from It's the Little Things
Get to Know a Farmer,
or Two, or Three
from The (mis)Adventures 
of a "Born Again" Farm Girl

I hope you'll play along and share your posts this week, and maybe you'll discover some new ideas from all the fabulous links! Use the form below to enter your links. Please just kindly link back to this blog or display our Hearts for Home button in your post or on your sidebar.

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If you were featured this week, help yourself to one of our “I was featured” buttons to display on your blog!

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Happy Hopping!



Monday, April 7, 2014

Nature in Our Own Backyard

We have so much to discover all around us.  

We are lucky to have a creekside nature trail in our neighborhood that leads to a lake, and we have some forest around us too, so we get to see wildlife regularly. We had to come to a complete stop in the road on the way home from the grocery store the other day as a wild turkey took her time walking across the road in front of us (and stepped right into the creek)! We pulled over, rolled the window down, and listened to her warbling and splashing her feet in the water.  

The kids all drew her in their nature journals that night, and they reminded me to start keeping my camera in the car. We see beavers everywhere, almost every day. And during certain times of the year, we see deer near our yard. It is so fun to walk right out into the backyard with nature journals in hand and easily find something interesting to study.

I found a good, kid-friendly book on backyard nature called One Small Square: Backyard. It has some easy ideas to get started with backyard nature study, and it is a nice introduction to field guide use for young kids. 

 One Small Square:  Backyard is packed full of facts, information, and activities. For a small picture book-style book, it is really a thorough backyard field guide, covering everything from fungi and bacteria to seeds and plants, rocks, insects, and birds and mammals. 
I also like to follow the Handbook of Nature Study blog for easy (free) nature study resources. Now we are ready to see what else we can find when we step outside.