Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Christmas Haven {Review}

Raised Old Order Amish, Ivy Zook dreams of leaving the community.  Although she loves her family, party planning is her passion... one the requires modern conveniences like WIFI and websites.  When she shares her plans with her mother, Ivy finds that her timing can be tricky for her sister Holly's impending wedding.  

At the same time, Arlan and his sister, Magda, arrive in town.  Brother and sister seeking refuge from a strict sect, the two find themselves a haven with the Zooks.  There Magda begins to recover from a difficult pregnancy and Arlan helps on the farm.  While both Arlan and Ivy wrestle with the guidelines of their religion, they also struggle to understand the other's viewpoint.  How can one sect differ so much from another?  And what does God want for both their lives?  

Although this book is written as a sequel to The Christmas Remedy, A Christmas Haven reads well as a stand alone book, the characters beautifully brought to life and the storyline engaging.  Cindy and Erin Woodsmall did a great job illustrating the differences between the Swartzentruber Amish and the Old Order Amish, something that I didn't know about prior to this book.  It was interesting to see how the different orders view life, God, and religion.  I was drawn into the book pretty quickly, especially when I realized what a desperate situation Arlan and Magda were in.  Although there were parts of the story that were predictable, the authors did keep me guessing on a few key points and I thoroughly enjoyed A Christmas Haven right up to the end.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The What's and Why's of the Morning Basket?

For the past year or so, I've shared our family's morning basket here and on our Youtube channel.  Each month, I lay out the resources, books, activities that we are using to start our homeschool morning together and enhance our family's learning.  And over the months, I've been asked a handful of the same questions.  So I thought I'd take a few minutes to address some of those questions about the What's, Why's, and How To's of the morning basket?

*What is a morning basket?

A morning basket is a collection of resources to start your homeschool day with beauty and excitement.  In our family, it's a way of fanning the flame of curiosity for the lessons to come, and a way of reinforcing what we've studied previously.  It's often stored in a basket and thus labeled a morning basket.

*Does it have to be a basket?  Does it have to be in the morning?

No, to both.  We currently keep our morning basket items on a shelf in the living room.  But these items can be stored in a number of places: crates, shelves, baskets, desk area, etc.  We like to use our morning basket as a way of launching us into our school day.  But it can be used at any time of the day.  Some families use their at lunch and others at bedtime.  But really any time that works for your family, works for your morning basket.

*What do you put in your morning basket?

Morning baskets vary from family to family, but often include several books, games, and some music.  Currently ours include: a book based on our history and science units, some poetry, a devotional, CC cards, Scripture memory box, and a read aloud chapter book.  Other ideas could be items related to music and art appreciation, math or language flashcards, logic books and games, other games, etc.

*How long does morning time last?

Our morning time runs about 30 min, but some families will linger together up to 1 hour.  You can make your time as long or as short as your and your children would like.

*Do you cover all your topics each day?

Again it's what works for your family.  We rotate our history and science books based on our block scheduling, and sprinkle in music and art 1-2 days a week.  Daily we read from our devotional, chapter book, and poetry, as well as our memory work.

*How often do you change the items in your morning basket?

We rotate some of our subjects on a monthly basis, while others last a few months at a time.  Some families rotate on a seasonal basis or even by term.  My favorite morning basket to prepare is always our December basket with a focus on Christmas and some of the handicrafts and art work that are an added bonus to the season.

*Still have questions?

Feel free to search my Youtube channel for recommendations and resources.  Or leave a comment below and I'd be happy to help.

Do you use a morning basket in your homeschool?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

52 Uncommon Family Adventures {Review}

Randy Southern's book, 52 Uncommon Family Adventures, lays out a variety of family fun nights varying in cost and time.  A date for each week of the year, Southern includes:
  • materials needed
  • any prep work needed (if applicable)
  • steps for making it happen
  • talking points
  • devotional
  • and specific love languages that it addresses
While some of these adventures may seem commonplace, others are unique and the author seems to take into consideration budget and ages of children.  With so many different ideas, the book would be a great place to start when planning a family night.  Who wouldn't love a speed board games, bowling with a twist, or a nerf gun war?  I especially loved that the author included talking points for conversations and a family devotional tied into each adventure.  Both would be a good way to wrap up the evening and still strengthen the family relationships.  A few resource for any family looking for a way to draw closer together.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 17, 2019

My Favorite Homeschool Curriculum and Supplies 2018-2019 ll Collab

(Click Post for Video)

 Today I'm sharing some of favorites from the past homeschool year... along with some other wonderful Youtube homeschool moms.
 (Click for more)

Diary of A Homeschool Mama

The Brave Homeschooling Mama

The Simple Rugged Path


Bytes of Memory

Boyboss Mama


Homeschool Bravely Review:

Rascal Novel Study:

First Language Lessons Vs. Rod & Staff Review:

Real Time Homeschooling--First Language Lessons:

10 Days in Africa Review:

Fall Homeschool Favorites:

Contact us for business inquiries, reviews and collaborations:

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FTC DISCLOSURE: This video is not sponsored.

Music Attribution:
Life of Riley by Kevin MacLeod

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

7 Summer Tasks for the Homeschool Mom

*This article was originally posted on 6/20/16.  Enjoy!
 photo IMG_7431_zpsu7pybcep.jpg

We've been out of school for three weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  Already?  That's amazing.  We've made our family trip to the lake, finished up the dance season, and started trampoline lessons.  VBS has already come and gone and yesterday, we had a family BBQ for Father's Day.  How is it that we're already three weeks into vacation?

If you're like me, you're soaking up the summer, and not ready to think of the upcoming school year.  But as we all know, time stops for no one and the new school year will be here before we know it.  Still before you panic, there are some low stress ways you can prep for the fall,... without ruining your summer vacation.

These are just 7 tasks you can complete this summer to set your next school year off to a great start!

1. Organize school books--Now that we've had a few weeks off, I'm ready to look at that stockpile in the garage.  Somethings we'll hang on to, some we won't.  Near the end of the May, we were just stacking books and manipulatives here and there.  So it's time for me to get back out there, organize by grade, see what I need to replace or sell.  Sometimes I even find some great curriculum that I forgot about.

2. Take stock of what you need next year--Most years I have my curriculum list ready by the end of May.  Not this year.  This year, I've still got a couple of holes.  It's time to finish my buying list.  Summer sales will be happening in the next month or so and and I don't want to buy anything, but what I really want and need.

3. Order any necessary items--Facebook and craigslist are full of used homeschool curriculum groups.  That's where I look first.  After that, Ebay is a great option for finding curriculum, as well as sales at Christian Book Distributers.  Now is the time to purchase to ensure that your packages arrive in time for the start of a new school year.

4. Start planning next year's calendar--Begin thinking about how you're going to schedule your new year.  What worked last year?  What didn't?  Do you need more field trips, more down time, more time for art/music/experiments?  Are you adding a new student?  (I am and I'm not sure how that's going to work)  What do you need to adjust to make the next year successful?  Plan the first 5-6 WEEKS!  You can adjust as you go, but having a several week plan will save you as your adjusting to a new year.

5. Read--Read education philosophy for how better to reach your students.  Read Christian parenting books about how to reach your children's hearts.  Read some of your student's books ahead so you can help with lap books.  Read fiction to just give yourself a break.

6. Play--Schedule some free time in your summer to play.  Swim!  Go to the beach!  Join a new workout group!  Try some new recipes in the kitchen!    Just take some time to let go of the teacher mindset and play!

7. Rest--By the end of May, I was struggling.  I was tired: mentally and physically.  I needed some mindless fiction to rest my brain.  I needed about 24 hours sleep and a mom's night out for coffee.  I needed to rest.  So this summer, I'm resetting my bedtime routine and getting more sleep.  Our schedule has opened up and we have time to lounge at the lake or have lazy mornings at home.  I'm taking advantage of it.

What about you?
How are you preparing for the next school year?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Our 2019 Summer Bucket List

Yay!  We are officially on summer break.  With 8th grade graduation behind us, and final grades turned it, it's time to focus on the next 3 months and soaking up all the relaxation we can handle.  These are just a few of the items on our Summer Bucket List.

Splash Pad

Go to the Aquatic Center

Aquatic Center Movie night

Go Fishing

Movie Under the Stars

Home Depot workshops

Kayak on the Lake

Roller Skating

Hike Castle Lake and Heart Lake

Make galaxies in bottles

Attend VBS

Make solar system bracelets

Complete the Barnes & Noble reading challenge

Freeze 4th of July pops

Make homemade ice cream

Take summer dance classes

Go camping

Go to the beach

Become a Junior Ranger

Complete the library reading challenge

Visit a National Park

Explore tide pools

Have a water balloon fight

Visit the Farmer's Market

Make a fun fruit dessert

Camp out in the backyard

Find 3 new places to explore around town

Stay up and star gaze

Visit the Icee Shack

Make Mango Lemonade

Try sand slime

Make some 4th of July crafts

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Shine {Review}

In our house, we fight over Chris Grabenstein books.  From The Island of Dr. Libris to the Mr. Lemoncello series, we rotate the books between my 7 year old and 11 year olds... and Mom makes sure she gets her turn as well.

His latest book, Shine!, written with wife J.J. Grabenstein, tells the story of twelve year old Piper who is more than happy to blend in.  When it comes to shining, Piper is often in the background, supporting her father and friends.  But when his new job lands them both in Chummy Prep, and a unique honor is being offered, Piper finds that she is more anxious to stand out.  Shine! is a book about being, becoming, and the trials and triumphs of middle school.

Like I said, we love Chris Grabenstein books.  So when he wrote this book with wife, J.J. Grabenstein, we were more than anxious to read it.  Shine! felt different than some of Grabenstein's books that we've read previously.  But different isn't always bad.  While I didn't feel that Shine! was as in-depth as the Mr. Lemoncello series, it does address the awkward middle school stage with a lot of grace and humor.  The authors write a young Piper that struggles with identity, but always remains true to her friends, even showing sympathy for the classic mean girl.  For reading level, this book is fit for 3-4th graders, but as far as the middle school struggles, I would recommend this book for 5-6th graders, walking through the transition themselves.  Quick, sweet, and inspiration, I am happy to have my own daughter reading this one.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from he publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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