Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Peek into our Homeschool: December 2016

This was a relaxed month, as far as homeschooling goes.  In math, both boys happened to be working on geometry.  Elliott was working on triangles and angles and such, while Emory was working on 3D shapes.

The rest of our schooling really was relaxed, natural learning.  We were busy planning, decorating, baking, wrapping, making homemade ornaments, going to Christmas dinners, participating in a Christmas musical {the kids, not me} and all the extra little things that come along with the season . . . other than studying AWANA verses and homework for co-op, I really just let the kids do their own thing.  It's interesting to see what they get into on their own.  Sure, there was some video games and television, but there was also independent reading, researching random topics online, Google Earth, stop motion videos, coding in Scratch, playing board games, imaginative play with siblings, play dates with friends and so much more.  There was no shortage of learning.

We also spent some time planning next semester.  Elliott asked to switch back to Five in a Row, which is interesting, since he was the one that asked for a change.  He wants to ADD it on to our day, not replace our current history/science, so we'll see how that works out.  Emory is pretty easy going, but I really do think FIAR is a good fit for him anyway.

I was purposeful about reading Christmas books, though.  Some I read aloud, some were sent to their room for independent reading.  Here are a few of our library books.

Then of course, December brings us Elliott's birthday.  His 10th birthday.  I cannot believe my firstborn is 10 years old already.  "They grow up so fast" sounds cliche for a reason, but it's the truth.  I can't stop time, and I'm watching this little baby turn into a kindhearted young man who is learning to play guitar, probably knows more about technology than I do, and who {sometimes} makes his brother's bed for him without being asked.

This kid has a thing for monopoly.

One reason I'm okay with taking a relaxed approach to December . . . between Elliott's birthday and Christmas, there are always fun things coming in to keep us occupied and playing and learning until we're ready to dig back in to our school work.  With four kids and too many toys, I've started being more mindful about the type of gifts we have coming in though.  Toys are allowed, but I also try to make sure gifts are educational, purposeful, open-ended, family-oriented, or inspire creativity or have long-term value.

So in the last week we've played with a few toys, built with LEGO, made flower gardens, did a lot of pretend cooking (the girls got super cute food sets), practiced guitar, learned about rocks and minerals, played several new board games, and just had FUN!

Homeschool Coffee Break

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 Goals

It's the very last list!  I wasn't sure I'd stick with it and make it all the way through, but it's been such an interesting little project!  I have enjoyed taking a little "me" time to do these lists, and I appreciate seeing how others interpret the lists and what they choose to share.

The very last list is 2017 Goals.  I have a few specific goals for this year.  Some are large, and some are smaller, but all are attainable.

  • Read through my Bible - I'm thinking I will do a full year plan.
  • 52 Books in 52 Weeks - this is for me to make time for myself to enjoy reading again!  I think I might try to blog about this monthly.  
  • Encourage a Reading Culture - I'm hoping that if I am consciously reading in front of the kids more, that will naturally encourage them to join me, but I'm going to have them do some reading challenges of their own!  We'll start with the Read Aloud Challenge and then I'll look for others for future months to keep things fresh.
  • Become a Healthier Me - Not so much for weight loss, but I'm okay if that's a result! Things I want to do this year are reduce (eliminate) caffeine, stop snacking on junk food, and exercise more
  • 34 Weeks of Clean - I had "declutter" on this list--we moved in May and I've already noticed clutter creeping in.  Then I saw today that this challenge is happening again!  I started it when I was pregnant with Eloise, but only made it a few weeks after she was born before I let it go.  I don't know if I'll try to blog about it or not, but I do plan to follow along.
  • Organize Pictures - I'd like to do some of those photo/memory books, because I'm so far behind on my pictures.
  • Develop a More Focused School Routine - It's hard to get into a routine when schedules constantly change, the toddler's nap schedule shifts or life happens, but I want to start the year getting into a good routine that the kids can move through seamlessly with me
  • 52 Lists - I think I'm going to get the physical journal too, like someone else mentioned.  It's a wonderful way to "journal," which I never do anymore.  It only takes a few minutes and I can spend some reflecting on different parts of my life
  • Take More Field Trips - Still being new to the area, having a 4th grader eligible for the every kid in a park program, and getting a membership to the state's history center program (reciprocal membership to 50+ history sites), we have no excuses.  I want to do the local indoor places this winter while it's cold, and then we can do more outdoor sites when the weather is nice.
  • Educate Myself - I think reading more for myself will be a great start, but I also want to spend some time listening to interesting podcasts, going to a class, attending a seminar, teaching myself a skill, or otherwise just working towards learning something new.  It's all part of being a Lifelong Learner.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Before Five in a Row: Prayer for a Child {Thanksgiving}

This was a simple, but sweet row!  We didn't get to everything, but still enjoyed our time with the book.

This post contains affiliate links.

Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field is a bedtime prayer for little ones.  We did a little before Thanksgiving, and a little afterwards, tying the prayer into blessings and thankfulness.

First we made Prayer Hands (trace hands, fold in half and inside you can write things/people they are thankful for or to pray for) and talked about prayer.

Prayer for a Child
Obviously we did this after some painting and crafting one day.  

We also did some "fun" Thanksgiving tie-ins.  She wasn't interested in dot-painting with the q-tip...she used it more like a paintbrush...but she painted some turkeys and glued some feathers on.  She loves to paint right now, so this was a large portion of her afternoon.

We did several turkeys at her request, and the boys did their own thing for art.

She wasn't through crafting though, and begged for more.  I found this Melissa and Doug Wooden Heart Mirror Kit that was stashed away, and she had a blast with it!  

The next week, we talked about more things that we are thankful for and completed the "I Am Thankful Page" from Homeschool Share's Prayer for a Child Lapbook.

She loves to cut and paste, so this was fun for her.

I printed this Roll 'n' Write Game from Prekinders, thinking we might use it at co-op before Thanksgiving, but that meeting was cancelled, so it was just sitting on my desk.  She found it and begged to try it, and she LOVED it!  I don't force (or even ask) her to write, but she's in that stage where she's learned to write her name and is trying to write everything now.

We have these foam stars that she wanted to play with, and she decided she wanted to use more glitter paint from her craft kit.  So we looked at the illustration where the little girl is talking about going to sleep and looking out the window at the stars, and how we're thankful for the sun, moon and stars.  We also sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star a couple of times while she glittered up her star.

We talked about children near and far, and looked at children from around the world in the new Children Just Like Me book.  Then we sang Jesus Loves the Little Children!

I rowed this one basically on a whim, because I happened upon it on the library's Caldecott shelf, so it was short and "bare minimum," but it's also more than enough for a not-quite 4 year old.  However, I'll probably buy the book eventually.  I do plan to row these books again when Eleanor is older and Eloise begins to join in more (they'll be turning 3 and 5 next school year) and it will be fun to explore the rest of the themes that we didn't get to this time.

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, December 23, 2016

52 Lists: Favorite Lists!

We're down to two lists left for the year!  This second to last list is to share our Favorite of the 52 Lists.  It was not easy to narrow it down, because all the lists were interesting, thought-provoking, or motivating in some way . . . but here are a few that stood out to me.

Gratitude List - I want to always remember to be thankful for each and every blessing

Our Daily Routine - It's always interesting to go back and look at what our routine was like in different seasons of our life, so I know I will enjoy having this documented

Autumn Bucket List - I love autumn, it's my favorite season!

Spending a Million Dollars - It's fun to dream, right!?

What's in my Purse? - This is another one of those lists I'm sure I'll appreciate down the road, even as much as I loathe having a purse full of dirty tissues, random toys and crushed candy, because I know I'll miss carrying LEGO toys around for them in the future

Happiest Moments - There are special memories tied to these moments of course, and that made this list important to me!

Favorite Quotes - I specifically chose homeschooling/educational related quotes, because I often need reminders of why we homeschool and the goals we have for our children.

Dream Jobs - Sometimes dreams do come true, just in unexpected ways!

Places I'd Like to Go - Another one of those lists where some are reasonable, many are bucket list items, but it's still fun to think about!

Ways to Love Others - We should always be thinking of ways to show our love and make sure others feel loved and appreciated.

Words that Touch Your Soul - I want to always be the type of person who can feel, and this was the list that started it all!

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Before Five in a Row: Play with Me

This post contains affiliate links.

Play With Me by Marie Hall Ets is about a little girl that tries to befriend several different animals, but she must first exercise patience, and learn what really attracts the animals.  We kept this row fairly simple.  A lot of the "row" was done during the Preschool classes at co-op that I teach, which are Storytime & Early Learning, and Crafts.

I picked Play with Me because I was looking for something related to insects--I was bringing my bugs in for the elementary science class, so I figured I might as well do a similar theme with the preschoolers the same day.  Play With Me isn't specifically about insects, but it fit well enough, and they listened so intently!

Some activities we did during the Storytime class:
  • Read the book
  • Talked about the story, the animals/insects, and patience
  • Looked at picture cards of the animals/creatures in the story, plus more insect cards
  • I is for Insect coloring page
  • Read a great living book from co-op's library shelf about butterflies while they played
We moved to the other end of the table for some play time.  I set out the Ants in the Pants game for free play, and a sensory bin.  It was fairly simple, but they played with it for a long time.

Later, the big kids brought my Bug Collection back, and we talked about PATIENCE again, since the preschoolers had waited so patiently for the elementary science class to use them first, and they added that to their playing.

During the transition to our Crafts class, we started with a drawing page "If I Were an Insect I Would Be A . . . " and they chose spiders.  We compromised from power rangers and princesses, though, and we did discuss how spiders have 8 legs.  They're three years old though, so no biggie!

Once I had another set of adult hands, we started a Build-A-Bug craft.  I picked it because it was open-ended.

I had a couple extra copies of the "If I Were an Insect" page that ended up at home with us, and Emory decided to be a Walking Stick.  Eleanor wanted to do it again and she was a Stink Bug this time.

We also did the "Would You Want to Play With Me?" page from the Homeschool Share lapbook.  She said yes to all the creatures except the snake.

One afternoon she also wanted to play with some cards I picked up at Ollie's.  One set is memory/matching, the other half is sequencing.  We did a few sets from the sequencing.  I chose ones that best represented insects/animals, since that was our focus for the week.

Like I said, the row was very simple.  I waited too late in the fall to row this, and we had yucky weather, so we didn't get to the nature study activities.  That's okay though, because I know we'll cycle through the books again when she's older and Eloise has joined in, and I'll plan this one during appropriate months so we can enjoy the outdoor activities.

We rowed Prayer for a Child following this book, and we tied it into Thanksgiving.  Maybe I'll get it posted before the New Year!

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

52 Lists: 2016 Accomplishments

The most recent topic for 52 Lists is List Your Accomplishments for 2016.

Oh boy.  When I hear "accomplishments" I feel like I'm supposed to brag on myself or something.  It's a little strange, anyway.  However, I decided to look back and think about the things that would be the most memorable in future years, and that made the task a bit easier.
  • Packed house and moved family to new state for husband's new job
  • Transitioned the kids to a new house, new co-op, new church 
  • Found and joined a church that we feel called to be in 
  • Shared in the joy of leading my little one to salvation 
  • Celebrated our Last First Birthday
  • Explored new parks and walking paths in our new neighborhood, finding a new favorite playground and nice 'nature walk' areas
  • Completed another year of homeschooling
  • Finished another year on the Homeschool Review Crew
  • Completed every list in the 52 Lists so far {some lists were doubled up into one post, so I wasn't always on time, but I've completed them all, which was my goal}
  • Left kids with an unrelated babysitter for the first time 
  • Had first article published in a print magazine 

What are your accomplishments for this past year?  What memories do you want to cherish in the years to come?  Please share them!

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Bucket List 2016

This week's 52 List writing prompt is to share our Winter Bucket List.  So here's all the "I would love to . . . " items for this winter, but we'll see if I actually accomplish them all!

Play in the Snow - snow angels, snowball fights, snowmen, sledding . . .

Birthdays - We have two winter birthdays in our immediate family ~ both girls ~ and I'm excited about the birthday plans we have for them this year.

Winter Treats/Foods - Hot chocolate with marshmallows, homemade snow ice cream, but also comfort foods and soups and stews that warm you all the way through!

Family Nights - Since it's harder to get out and do fun things in the winter because of the cold weather and shorter daylight hours, and because bundling four kids for winter weather and getting in and out of boosters/carseats is no fun . . . we tend to do more Friday Movie Nights and Game Nights.  I'm looking forward to making some fun treats and making new memories.

Nothing Day - I think the busyness of the holiday/birthday season makes me long for one.  That means taking a Saturday and doing nothing.  No major chores, no household projects, no running errands or shopping, no making plans, no serious cooking.  Instead, it's a day to just slow down and relax . . . we wear comfy clothes, do the bare minimum cooking/cleaning, and just sit around and watch tv, read and play with the kids without feeling rushed to get something done or be somewhere.  Call it a Lazy Saturday, a Relaxation Day, or Whatever you Want, but I always feel so much better after we have one of these days!

Read - Speaking of lounging around and reading.  I have an ever-growing pile of to-read books, and I really want to curl up under some warm blankets and just read, read and read some more.

Winter Nature Study - I'd like to take a winter nature walk, make bird feeders, and do some "experiments" or fun activities with snow and ice

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Beautiful Feet Books: Early American History {Pilgrims and Thanksgiving}

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm finally sharing our next unit with Beautiful Feet Books - Pilgrims and Thanksgiving!  You know, since it's almost Christmas!  It took longer to get through this unit because by the time we started it I had slowed our history schedule down to the recommended pace (we were doing history at nearly double the pace prior to this), and you know, I'm slow to share things around here.

The one thing we found is that there weren't as many notebooking activities for this section, and the boys were actually asking for more.  Some of these readings were longer, and they were needing something to do.  We did add some Draw Write Now exercises, but when I do this with the girls, I'll probably plan ahead to add a few things here and there.

Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey

This book gives us the background of the Pilgrims and why the fled England, as well as some of their time in Holland.  Then it goes into why they decided to go to America and their voyage, as well as the hardships of the first winter and how they made it through to the first Harvest and Thanksgiving.  Overall, this book got a mixed reaction from the boys.  They followed along well in the beginning, but I could see interest waning toward the end. I think when we slowed down to the recommended pacing, and with this being a longer book anyway, it made it feel like it lasted forever.

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

I'm not sure what I thought of this book.  The boys thought it was okay, but it's a dated book, and there were stereotypes to discuss.  It offered good talking points, particularly since this book tells one version of "the Squanto story," where he went willingly to England once, then upon his return he was captured as a slave but was purchased by monks who helped him find his way back to America.  It doesn't go into much detail after his final return to America, as far as the pilgrims are concerned; it's more of his story before he becomes their translator and helps them learn to live in his homeland.

I have read various versions of Squanto's life online, and no two stories are the same.  It's interesting to read different viewpoints, since historians do not agree agree as to whether he was kidnapped once or twice.  I talked about all this with the kids, and how we must piece together oral traditions, primary sources and learn about the customs and other people of the time period we're studying, and still exercise caution in determining what is most likely the truth.  

Then we read another book . . .

I added this book.  It tells the other common story of Squanto being captured and sold into slavery, then "rescued" by monks, and slowly making his way back home to America before befriending the Pilgrims.  It's a very traditional, rose-colored version of his life and his role in the first Thanksgiving.

Neither book, of course, mentioned the historical discrepancies, the precarious relationships he had with the Natives and Pilgrims or most of the other things I didn't learn in school either . . . but considering the target audience is early-mid elementary, I guess it doesn't all needs to be taught yet, as my goal at this age is to explore the basics of the various versions and myths and let them build on this knowledge as they mature.  Sometimes it's hard to find appropriate living books that explore both sides of a story, so I just have to add conversationally.

Here are some articles that might be interesting for mom to read in order to have discussion starters, or for in-depth discussion with older students.
The REAL Story of Thanksgiving
Squanto:  The Former Slave
Here's the Crazy Story about Thanksgiving You Never Heard
A Lesser-Known Atlantic Crossing

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall

This is one of the more interesting Pilgrim books I've read.  It is written in first person with historical vocabulary and vernacular, and although it briefly mentions Thanksgiving, it focuses more on the daily life, specifically giving details about the men, the women, and then the children.  My kids thought it very odd that fathers would be put in stocks for the bad behavior of their children!

My only "complaint" if you will, is that when we started this book, it was being read simultaneously with the assigned Squanto.  If you're doing the full assignment all at once, you're reading both books back-to-back.  In the future with the girls, I think I'll just plan to read the books independently of each other so we can focus more on the individual books.

1621:  A New Look at the First Thanksgiving by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac

I added this book.  This book is a beautifully photographed reenactment of that First Thanksgiving, and describes the historical events and cultural influences that would have shaped actual events.  It tries to tell the story with a more balanced viewpoint from the Wampanoag.  The kids thought the pictures were great, and most of the information presented was interesting.  However, the text wasn't as "living" as I would have hoped, and had a kind of textbookish feel to read out loud.  We read it over a couple of days though, and I'd still recommend this for middle elementary  and beyond.


I tried to do a couple of cooking projects, but that didn't go well.  We made Shrewsberry Cakes from Cooking Up Some American History, but they fell flat.  Literally.  The taste was okay, but I'm not a baker, so to try and recreate a recipe with no rising agent was a mess.  Then I tried Nasaump from a recipe I found online somewhere, and the kids looked at me like I was nuts when I served it.

So we transitioned into Thanksgiving prep, and that was that.  I have a couple more "extra" books I was going to add to this unit, but we didn't get to them, so I think maybe we'll read those after Christmas break, and I'll just share about them later, since they're not specifically related to Thanksgiving, but are more about colonial life in general.  I imagine it will be awhile before my next BFB installment though, as we're currently on Christmas break and won't be starting a new unit for awhile yet.

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, December 9, 2016

52 Lists: Movies and TO-DO List

I'm a little behind here, and I missed last week's list, Favorite Movies.  Well actually, I started the post, but never got around to finishing it because I don't really have favorite movies.  I mean, I watch movies and enjoy them, but then I move on.  For some reason, I rarely associate the sentiment of "favorites" with things like books, songs or movies.  However, there are a few that stand out.  My favorite children's movies were Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast.  My favorites as a teenager were feel-good sports and romance movies.  As an adult, I typically enjoy comedies, dramas and romance, and I'll tolerate action movies.  I don't really do sci-fi or horror.

Ok . . . now onto this week's list!

December's To-Do List.

  • Husband's Employee-Family Christmas dinner
  • Elliott's Birthday
  • finish the last few sessions of co-op 
  • Make some fun homemade Christmas ornaments 
  • Write a couple of reviews
  • Play date with friends
  • Read Christmas books 
  • Watch Christmas movies
  • Finish shopping and then wrap gifts
  • Christmas cookie exchange (this is mostly husband's thing, but I'm sure I'll help)
  • Christmas dinner with Homebuilder's Sunday School class
  • Children's Christmas program 
  • Christmas Eve with family
  • Enjoying Christmas in the moment and reflecting on our truest gifts 
  • Look into piano lessons for Emory (his request)
  • Start thinking ahead for Eleanor and Eloise's birthdays 
  • Brainstorming/outlining homeschool plans for January and beyond

It's already time for the next list, Winter Bucket List, so I'm thinking about the memory-making activities I want to put at the top of our list.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Peek into our Homeschool: November 2016

So I was right . . . no way I could get in weekly wrap-ups, but I did make it to a second Monthly Recap!

November was a good month.  We had a few regular weeks where we "checked off" all the subject areas, and then the last two weeks have been very laid back as we enjoyed Thanksgiving, and then just took some downtime to regroup and decide how to finish out the calendar year.  So here are some of the highlights from this month . . .

Park with Friends

The Park is always a fun, but one week the building where we have co-op was closed the day we meet, so we met up with some new friends for a play date.  My kids have determined this one to be the "best" in the area, as far as playgrounds are concerned.  The only thing that would make it perfect for me is if it were completely fenced in like some of the other playgrounds in the area.

Eloise loves the slides right now!

 And climbing . . .

Learning about Elections

The boys spent a lot of time leading up to the election going through their presidential cards and reading the random facts on the back.  When Elliott got bored waiting on the states to be called, he decided to put these cards in order again.

When Emory got bored, he decided to draw Trump and Clinton on the back of his electorate map.


This session, the boys are taking Science, Music Appreciation, Guitar and Gym.  Emory asked last week if he could stop the guitar lessons and just read a book during that time.  It's a very small and relaxed co-op, and Independent Study is allowed as an alternative to that class, so last week he sat out with another kid his age, but I think I might take them some educational games.  

Elliott on the other hand, is enjoying the guitar lessons, and even practices at home without being reminded!  Emory said guitar is not his dream instrument, but he's expressed interest in piano lessons, so we're looking into that.  

Eleanor has Storytime (where I read a book and do educational activities/games related to the story) and Crafts in the morning.  After lunch is Music for Littles and Gym.  

This week was all about shapes. 


The boys and I finished up our Pilgrims/Thanksgiving unit in Beautiful Feet Books.  I'll be posting an update to that series soon to share our thoughts on the books they use and supplement books/activities we tried.

Eleanor rowed Prayer for a Child for Before Five in a Row for Thanksgiving, and I'll be sharing that post eventually too.  It was a sweet book.   {She also rowed Corduroy which was a big hit, and then Play With Me--I need to write that one up too!}

She did a couple generic turkey crafts too.   It is hard to fill this girl up when she gets on a roll with her school/crafts and she's been there lately.  "I want another one . . . I want more school . . . can I do a project?"

Other Highlights

  • We finally signed up for library cards here!  The children's department (an entire floor) is really nice and we've been getting lots of extra books to enjoy. 
  • Astronomy - the boys built a Mars community and we observed the supermoon earlier in the month, then we took the last two weeks off from formal science to finish up our Pilgrim/Thanksgiving unit 
  • Angel Tree:  The three big kids went shopping with Daddy to pick out gifts for our Angel Tree child
  • The Homeschool Review Crew ended - Blue Ribbon Awards
  • Continuing AWANA and practicing for the children's Christmas program (I'm told Elliott has a short solo??)
  • The end of November was very relaxed--we all needed some downtime, so we mostly read books, played games, puzzles and did arts and crafts and Elliott has been using Scratch to code 

Homeschool Coffee Break

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.