Category Archives: Homeschooling

Homeschool Classroom ~Christian Studies

One area of our older kids’ high school curriculum is their Christian Studies.

Some of what Christian Studies includes studying is God’s word and taking opportunities to serve in our community.  I have previously shared one of their assignments, and you can check it out here.  Today, I want to share one of my absolutely favorite assignments for this class.

Once a month each one of our oldest four students presents a teaching (aka sermon) on a topic they choose.  This gives them a different method of studying God’s word than the verse by verse method we use for our morning Bible study.

The requirements for this assignment:

  • minimum of 5 minutes in length
  • must contain 3 different verse references
  • 1 Greek definition
  • 1 Hebrew definition
  • 1 story to illustrate the teaching

How I score this assignment:

  • time length of teaching- 10 points
  • 3 verses- 5 points each
  • definitions- 5 points each
  • story- 10 points
  • overall presentation- 5 points
  • = 50 point assignment.

Though this is a part of our high school curriculum, Emily Grace (13- 8th grade) and Hannah (11- 6th grade) also participate to expand their knowledge of God’s word and be better prepared for the more difficult topics and higher expectations of their high school years.

Each of them get to choose their own topic, but they have to clear it with me before they get started.  Sometimes the topics they choose can be too broad and need to be a little more focused.

A few of the chosen topics so far:

  • Biblical Courtship vs. Worldly Dating
  • Drawing Strength from God
  • Intentionally Be An Encouraging Person
  • Having a Thankful Heart

I greatly enjoy listening to their presentations and hearing what they have discovered.

What are some other topics do you suggest?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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In the homeschool classroom- scavenger hunt!

Our family’s favorite classroom:  God’s great big world!

Today we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and headed outside with our science.  The scavenger hunt assignment in Hannah’s (10) Exploring Creation with Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures by Apologia was the perfect activity.  I had Emily Grace (13) join in.  It really accents her science studies, Botany by Apologia.

First find:  a huge bird’s nest.  Now, normally we would not collect a bird’s nest, but this one was in one of my feed buckets that is stored with our tools and equipment used on our homestead.

We took our little adventure down to the pond.  We passed a gnarly looking tree that offered up one of the other items on the list, a hole in the trunk of a tree.  As you can see, Emily Grace was fully prepared for any surprise attacks from whatever could be lurking in there.  I was so tempted to scream and run just to freak her out.  I didn’t.  This time.

Another item on the list was to find a bird, other than a duck or goose, around the water.  What did we find?  Our chickens.  That works!  Often we will find cranes, but there were none today.

How cool is this prickly looking caterpillar?!  Another item marked off the list!

We spent about half an hour trekking around our property to find everything that we could.  We will continue the hunt after the sun has retired for the day, so that we may have the opportunity to spot a few other items on the list, like bats.  :)

Being a part of their education is far more than book work.  It is also the joy of getting them out and encouraging them to be hands-on.  Listening to their conversations and bad jokes while on the scavenger hunt was all gravy!

Next up on the science front: bird watching 101.

What is happening in your classroom?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen 

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Starting the school day strongly

In order to begin our days with a good attitude and a godly focus, our first subject of the day is Bible study.

After enjoying breakfast and the cleaning up the dining room, everyone grabs their Bibles and gathers around the table.  I have shared with you before how we study our Bibles each morning, but that is not what this particular post is about.

Recently I started giving a weekly Bible challenge.  Most mornings our studies inspire some fantastic conversations and I wanted to make the most of those.

What are the conversation-inspired Bible challenges I give?   I am so glad you asked! *wink*

Each week holds a challenge with a chosen topic given on Monday morning.  Our oldest four (ages 10, 12, 14, and 16) then have until Friday morning to discover and write down a specified number of verses pertaining to that week’s chosen topic.

Let me give you an example.  Last week they were to find twenty separate verses that identified the character traits of a godly friend.   What qualities does God reveal to us that we should look for and embody as a true friend?

On Friday morning after our Bible study the kids present their lists.  A randomly chosen child will share the verses that they found.  The other kids highlight or put a check mark next any verses of theirs that match up with someone else’s.  They then share verses no one else has yet to name.  (They record the name of the book, the chapter, the verse, and they actually write out the verse)

Some of my favorite points about the challenge exercise:

  • It encourages them to read their Bibles independently more often and not just during Bible study with me.
  • The children learn and understand more of God’s word on their own and not just through what I am telling them.
  • It helps them to remember more scripture.
  • It helps them to more easily find particular verses when they need them.
  • It helps them to learn and, prayerfully, apply the godly qualities they read and wrote down.
  • It helps them to remember the follies of and negative consequences of behavior that is not godly.

Here are some of the challenge topics:

  • Qualities of a godly friend
  • Qualities of a godly young lady
  • Qualities of a godly young man
  • Directives (commandments) for fathers
  • Directives for mothers
  • Directives for the elderly
  • Directives for children
  • Qualities of a future spouse
  • The benefits of hard work
  • The consequences of being lazy
  • The consequences of being greedy
  • The benefits of being generous
  • Directives about knowledge and wisdom
  • The focus of a godly person contrasted to the focus of a worldly person
  • Examples of the fruit of the Spirit
  • Examples of the gifts of the Spirit

What challenge topics would add to this list?

All for the glory of God,

~Rhen

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Apologia Biology

We discovered the wonderful science curriculum published by Apologia several years ago.

I have shared pictures and posts of our experiments, projects, and lessons from Astronomy, Zoology (Flying Creatures), Botany, Physical Science, and General Science.

Apologia really brought it all to life and made learning about science fun for our kids, so when they contacted me about reviewing Biology, I jumped at the chance.

Our oldest, Renee (16), was the student who was blessed to be the first to use this book.   While she had a great appreciation for using a brand new book, she was not looking forward to Biology and expressed her displeasure on a pretty regular basis.

I am going to lay out this review in two ways.  First, I will share Renee’s point of view through our interview, then I will give you some of my opinions.

Interview With Renee

Me:  What was your first impression of Exploring Creation with Biology?

Renee:  It looked like it would be interesting, but I was still not sure about a lot of the gross things in Biology.

Me:  How well were the lessons laid out?

Renee:  Really well.  They weren’t too big and had a lot of illustrations and examples to go with each subject.   Some lessons built on each other, while others were independent.  It kept everything from running together.

Me:  Favorites?

Renee:  I enjoyed the little stories here and there that shared interesting experiences that highlighted the lesson.  I loved that I could do the dissections online.  The projects were a lot of fun.  My favorite was creating my own biological classifications.

Me:  What did you think of the experiments?

Renee:  They were interesting, and I liked how they showed the experiments and a lot of examples on the disc to compare to what I was doing.  They were also not too long and involved.

Me:  Overall impression?

Renee:   Cool, not gross like I expected.

Me:  Is there anything that you would change or suggest to make it better?  (I gave her 24 hours to really think about this one)

Renee:  I can’t think of anything.

Me:  If you were talking to another high school student, what would you say about Apologia Biology?

Renee:  I would tell them that it is a great Biology to fulfill their high school science needs with.  It is more than just a bunch of dry facts.  There is a lot of detail, interesting projects, and the lessons are not too long each.

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Mom’s opinion.

I have long had a great appreciation for the way Apologia lays out their lessons, their Bible-based approach, and the diversity and choices for projects and experiments.  There is a great lesson timeline that can be easily adjusted to your needs and schedule.

Almost every “ingredient” needed for the projects and experiments we had around the house.  There were only a handful of things that I had to purchase, and they were not expensive.

While we accomplished all of Renee’s dissections online, they do offer a full kit with everything you need.  We will be purchasing this for the rest of the kids.  They want to dissect!

There are also slides and a microscope available.  Unfortunately, we had to depend on the internet and the disc that goes with this curriculum to see all of the slide info.   Our microscope broke and I have not yet been able to replace it.  This goes to show that it is not imperative, but being able to use the microscope and check things out for yourself does do a lot to bring the lesson to life.  A new microscope is high on my list of homeschooling items to purchase!

The teacher’s manual (Solutions and Tests book) is full of valuable information for keeping the parent/ teacher up to speed and fully informed.  There are online resources and support for everything in these books.  Love!

Does it seem like I am gushing a bit?  I am!  Over the past 12 years of educating my children at home I have tried many different science curriculum, but Apologia has withstood the test and rigors of our family’s needs and standards.  I have yet to be dissappointed in any book from Apologia I have used.

JUST SO YOU KNOW:  In exchange for a full and honest review I received the Exploring Creation with Biology including, the student book, the solutions book, the test manual, and the computer disc.  My positive review is from our experiences while using this curriculum!  If I didn’t like, I would let you know.

Have any questions for me?  For Renee?  Ask away and we will answer!

All for the glory of God,

~Rhen 

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The Gorgeousness of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The weather is warming up beautifully and that has plunged us full-throttle into our spring field trip season!

We began with a full day at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  Last spring we started our field trip season with this field trip as well, but we waited about a week too late to see all of the tulips and early spring blooms.  This year, we were greeted by thousands of gorgeous flowers.

The gardens to explore are bountiful with treasures to be discovered by those who are willing to wander and search.

There are adventures to be had and fun to be chased down around every bend.

There is much to do, from sword fighting to taking a break in the library to relaxing and taking in a lovely view of a sea of blooms.

Did I mention…

And this my friends, is just the beginning!

Coming soon… the Civil War, hiking a preserve, an orchard, and the zoo.  *grin*

What field trips do you have coming up?

God bless,

~Rhen

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Tough Start, Nice Finish

Have you ever experienced those days where you look at the clock, realize it is 2:30 in the afternoon, and try to form a list of accomplishments that includes more than eating breakfast (a cup of coffee counts), brushing your hair (with your fingers works just fine), and you haven’t lost any kids?

Yeah, my week started out that way.  Two steps forward and five steps back seemed  the motto for Monday and Tuesday.  Ugh!

A few highlights {insert sarcasm here}:

  • It is heartbreaking finding Layla’s (3) cute, little, blonde curls on the ground.  Grrrr.
  • Misplacing the key to the filing cabinet where our school supplies  and completed work that awaits being checked are stored is not a good thing.
  • A toddler (Israel- 21 months) who is suddenly extraordinarily clingy makes multi-tasking almost impossible.
  • Over-sleeping just ONE morning results in being behind the eight ball all day, and that, for some aggravating reason, tries to continue into the next day or two.
  • The joy of discovering that Susannah (5), in her attempt to “clean” her room, crammed a globe slam-full of her clothing and toys.  A globe!!  Yes, she shoved the earth full of junk.

After what felt like banging my head against the wall Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I decided it was time for a do-over.  Sometimes, we moms just have to clear our minds and to-do lists and start fresh.

Forget the days that were not productive, and drop the to-do’s that didn’t get completed.  That means it is time to create a two-day week out of Thursday and Friday, and use those two days to accomplish a new to-do list and new goals that will realistically fit in a 48 hour period.

Just a adding a little cuteness to this post with a sweet shot of my clingy Israel (21 months). How can I say “No” to that little face?

What does my new two-day check list look like?

  • Wash, dry, fold, and put away 4-6 loads of laundry (not too bad!)
  • Tackle a couple of lessons in Math and a couple in English.
  • Don’t scrimp on the Bible study or prayer time!
  • Include our favorite subjects- science (with Apologia, of course), geography, and history.
  • Tackle vocabulary and spelling next week.
  • Find something arsty to express ourselves artistically and let the creativity flow!
  • Think of a couple of cute and creative ways to style Layla’s hair in an attempt to make the gaps not quite so apparent.
  • Finish putting together soap orders.  (This one is very therapeutic for me!)
  • Spend some much needed wind-down time with Hubs.

By the time this evening (Friday) wraps up, this list will be checked-off, and I will be snuggling with Mark while the kids play a game of Monopoly, read a book, and/or play with the puppies.

This week may have started off on the rough side, but through a readjustment of my goals and my attitude, it is finishing very nicely.

How has your week been?  Was it like mine, or did you accomplish enough to put you ahead next week?  *grin*

God bless,

~Rhen

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Ahhhh, the smell of an apple orchard in the fall.

What screams homeschooling in the fall better than a field trip to an apple orchard?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing!  *Warning*  I have lots of pictures to share!

Aren’t the Arkansas Black apples beautiful?  They become almost black with a hint of deep red when they are ready to be eaten and enjoyed.

Our fantastically fall field trip (say that five times fast) took us to Mountain View Orchards where we were warmly greeted by a father/ son team.  They were extremely knowledgable, very capable in sharing that information with kids of a wide variety of ages, and they were wonderfully generous with their apples and their time.

Did I mention they were brave?  They let us loose on their apple orchard!  *grin*  Well, actually, the kids were well behaved.  The adults, on the other hand… just kidding.  We had a great time!

It is not always easy to find a field trip that will appeal to Littles, Middles, and Bigs.  Sometimes, if the field trip is fitting for the older kids, then the information  that is being shared is over the heads of the Littles.

Then there are times that whatever adventure we are on fits the younger children, but it is completely boring for the older ones.  Not so with an apple orchard!  Be still my homeschooling heart!

The bouncing bumpy tractor ride back to area of the orchard where we picked wasn’t too long and gave the kids an opportunity to plan their apple-picking strategies with their friends.

The question/ answer period gave a lot of new information and knowledge to our older children, yet wasn’t so long that our Littles grew restless.  The time and energy we spent picking and enjoying the apple orchard took just long enough for the bigger kids to get hands-on with some of their new knowledge, but it didn’t tire the Littles out to the point of whininess.  *love*

The children were paired up, I prefer to pair a bigger kid or two with a little one, and given a box to fill with apples.  That day we filled multiple boxes with Golden Delicious, that is, whatever apples the children didn’t eat while picking.  I told you, the father/ son team was generous!

My favorite shot of the day?  This one.

This is Renee’s sweet, sweet friend, Arianna, as she toted Israel’s not-so-light tush around the apple orchard.  My little man had an apple in each hand.  He would take a bite of one apple and then switch his attention to the second one.  He consumed every bit of both apples.

We even brought in grandparent reinforcements for those apples that were way up there in the trees.  Reach!

Everyone, wave to Paige and her sweet little guy, Gabriel.  Israel and Gabriel hang out together every Sunday at church.  The cuteness is almost unbearable.

Our bounty from the day was enough to fill my counter and keep me busy canning, dehydrating, and freezing fruit for days!

There was much making of pear sauce and Foo.  Emily Grace was my right hand girl.

Our pantry has added many quarts of pear sauce, 6 pints of Foo, and 6 quarts of dehydrated apples.  These will be yummy and a reminder of warm weather and the sweet smell of the apple orchard when we are in the midst of winter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I shared with you earlier this week that our family’s schedule is becoming a little overfilled and things will be a little crazier than usual.  In addition to my fill sensor going on out my washing machine (which means no washer for about 3 days), we are moving!  We have been extraordinarily blessed to have found a different house to rent for the time being.  There will be more details and pictures coming soon.  Until then, I am up to my eyeballs with packing and cleaning and preparing to move in a week and a half.  Wow!

It is a good thing we school year round and are so far ahead.  Taking a couple of weeks off to get moved isn’t a big deal at all.   Getting a family of ten packed and ready in about ten days, that, my friends, is a big deal.  Pray for me!  *wink*

God bless,

~Rhen

All of those schoolwork papers

Don’t you just love those fantastic little tips that make things a little easier, a little smoother, and a bit more organized?  Me, too!

I am going to share a tip with you that I put into action last year, and wow, did it make a difference!

With multiple kids working on a varied amount school work independently, the papers they complete were usually a chaotic mess.

In our previous school years, I would get so frustrated trying to keep everyone’s papers organized and together.  Attempts to create stacks for each child to put their papers in just didn’t work.  As they would turn in their work to be checked, the piles would get mixed up, papers would fall behind my desk or be used by a Little to draw and color on.

I looked at the “In” and “Out” trays, but with more than 2 kids turning in school work, I would have had quite a tower just to keep each of their papers separated!

File folders to the rescue!  Mark brought home a small filing cabinet for me to use in our school room, and that is just what I did.

Each child has 2 folders.  The “In” folder is for all papers, worksheets, and work that needs to be checked and/or graded by me.  The “Out” folder is for the papers I have checked that they need to either correct or put away in their binders.

No more lessons being lost or accidentally thrown away.  No more having to hunt for someone’s paper they have turned in by placing it on my desk or at my end of the table.  Everything is either in their folders or in their binders.

Do you have a little tip you have “discovered” that would help your fellow homeschooler?  Share it in the comments or post in the comments a link to your post with the tip.   I am also looking for ways to streamline and organize our day, our schedule, and our classroom!

You can find this post and many, many more linked up with the Hip Homeschool Hop!

God bless,

~Rhen

I Dub Thee Project Week!

While our new school year has just started, we have not begun our full-day schedule. (We are still on the lighter summer schedule.)

This is the time when I put aside a full week, called my Project Week, to attack and complete all of those projects I have been working on for weeks or months, or have be planning to do.

Here are a few things I am accomplishing this week:

♦I am in the middle of finally finishing the organization of my side of the garage.  This has been ongoing all summer long.  Our art area and all of the supplies are located in there, and I need to get everything in its place and ready to use.  The kids are ready to let their creativity flow!

♦I am rearranging, reorganizing, and cleaning out our school room.  This is quite a project!  Posters are being updated, curriculum is being changed out for the proper grades, papers are being filed and stored, everything is being dusted and wiped down, and I am rearranging the layout to try and maximize my space.  Have you ever heard the phrase ten pounds of stuff in a five pound bucket?  Exactly!

♦I need to pull everything out of my closet and be very, very choosy about what goes back in.  It is time to purge and reorganize!  My closet seems to be THE area to store pretty much everything.  It is a good thing I have a Pinterest board all about organization!  *wink*

♦Last, but not least, the kids and I have to deep clean the main living areas of the house.  You know, the kitchen, living room, entryway, and dining room.  There is so much more room when the kids get all of their belongings put away!  Amazing concept, isn’t it?!

What does all of this have to do with homeschooling?  For me, lots!

Knowing the house is clean and de-cluttered takes a weight off of my shoulders and makes me feel energized!   Having a fully prepared school room and an art area that is organized and ready to use makes jumping into our full fall schedule that much easier.

When everything is ready and the projects are no longer there waiting for me for  to do them, I can focus my time and energy fully on the enjoying the new school year.

Do you do a it-is-almost-time-to-jump-into-the-new-school-year deep cleaning and organizing?  What projects do you tackle to get ready?

God bless,

~Rhen

You can also find a weekly post from me at Life With Lissy!  Check out last week’s post on patience.

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Just As Important!

Summer is in full swing and hot!  At least, here in the deep south it is with several weeks of triple degree heat.

In addition to spending time swimming, playing, hanging out with family, grilling out, and sleeping in, we homeschooling families are knee-deep in researching, ordering, purging, and organizing curriculum.  We are preparing our school supply lists, sorting through our teacher helps, and taking care of a seemingly endless to-do list.

One of the items that may be on that to-do list is working on a daily schedule for your upcoming school year.  That is what I want to talk to you about.

Yes, let’s schedule time for math, reading, spelling, history, science, language arts, foreign language, and any other subjects whose curriculum caught our eye when we were a little strung out on the whole curriculum shopping high.  Ya know.

I want you to consider scheduling in a few things that I actually had to learn to schedule in myself, but learn, I did!

1.  Time to snuggle and hang out.

Taking time to snuggle with your Littles and Middles, and hang out with your older kids is so important.  This is time to talk or not say a word.  Time to watch a movie together or talk about dreams.  Whatever it is that you and your kids fill that time up with, enjoy it together!

2.  Time to get creative.

I am not just talking about the crafts that are really 70-80% mom or dad and 20-30% kid.  Both kids and adults need time to get creative.  Whether that comes through painting with acrylics, watercolors, or oil paints, drawing with pencils, charcoal, or pastels, creating with clays, or whatever medium you choose, let the creative side of both of you flow without rules or restrictions.  Looking for ideas?  Check out Pinterest!

3.  Time to read.

Take a trip to your local library and find a book or three to get lost in.  Junie B. Jones books, Little House on the Prairie books, and Nancy Drew books are just a few of the books that are loved by our kids.  Personally, I enjoy reading books that give me great ideas and inspirations to educate my children better, or help me to be a better mom and wife.  What am I reading at this moment?  Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson from Apologia.

4.  Time to pray.

Taking our concerns and hopes to God in prayer is essential.   We should set aside time to pray with our children as well as for our children.  My prayers include asking for God’s help in reaching and teaching our children, in helping them to conquer, helping them to learn and implement God’s word in their lives, and  helping them to develop a love of learning that will stay with them all of their days.  I definitely need God’s help in achieving these goals!

5.  Time with friends.

Set aside the time for friends.  It is just as important that mom and dad get time to fellowship with their friends as the kids do.  Invite some of your favorite people over for an afternoon of hanging out, snacking, and laughing.  Finding other homeschooling families to connect with can make a huge difference.  Having other homeschooling moms, dads, and kids to talk with, bounce ideas off of, and seek advice from is a definite essential!

6.  Time to play.

Running, swinging, hiking, bike riding, building sandcastles, skating, jumping rope, climbing trees, and stacking blocks are all great ways to get away from the table and get moving.  The fresh air, using some energy, and taking a little physical activity break can do wonders for concentration!

7.  Time to relax and just breathe.

Kids and parents alike need a few moments to take a deep breath and relax.  Our goals, deadlines, markers, and schedules can get us pretty wound up and on edge at times.  The way to defeat this overload is to step back, put your feet up, and just breathe.  It doesn’t do us or our kids any good to get overwhelmed and overdone.  That can easily set up back rather than help us move forward!

What would you advice others to schedule a little time for?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

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