A New Direction

I’m so excited to be taking over the reins of this blog. My name is Dawn Peluso and I was one of the folks that helped Diane with the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook page.  I’m a homeschooling mom of 3.  Our children are 11, 9, and 3.  We live in Eastern, NC and enjoy hiking, the beach, and spending time with family. We are active in our church and strive be a family that follows Jesus.

We use a variety of materials and methods in our home school and like to say our style is “Charlotte Mason Eclectic”.  In particular, we enjoy using lots of good books, nature study, hands-on history, cooking, and traveling to create a family culture of learning and growing.

Look for more posts over the next couple weeks with information about book reviews, fun home school ideas, and more.

My plan for the blog beginning in September is to have a weekly post about the history that we are studying that week (my husband and I are creating a hands on American history program for our kids and I will share that plan and the resources that we are using,  in case anyone else wants to join us on that journey), Product reviews, a monthly book review of a book for Moms, lots of guest posts from other homeschooling moms about what they are doing in their home schools and a variety of other content.  I’m very open to hearing from our readers about what you would like to see and making sure we are meeting those needs.

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Progeny Press The Scavengers eGuide (review)

Scavengers eGuide

While I had heard the name Progeny Press, I was unfamiliar with the company prior to this review. The Scavengers sounded like a book my son would really enjoy so I purchased the book and requested the opportunity to review the The Scavengers – eGuide that Progeny Press created to accompany the book. Knowing that we would be reviewing this over the summer when we would normally be taking a break, I really hoped the book would be good enough to really hook my son and keep him interested. Thankfully, he absolutely loved the book and enjoyed the format of the eGuide.  This particular book and guide are recommended for grades 5-8 and my son is entering the 7th grade.

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The Scavengers – eGuide starts out with prereading activities that you can choose from. They were quite varied and covered a variety of learning styles. For this book there were options that included a Bible study, a research project, a cooking project, and even a field trip. We completed the research project as a family discussion as well as talking about the hands on the project. In this instance, one of the hands on options was using a book on edible plants and trying to locate some of them near your home. Since we had already done this as a family, we simply discussed when we had done it and what we learned.

They made a suggestion at the beginning of the guide that made a huge difference for my son. He loves to read but often gets really frustrated with study guides and such because he does not like to have to pause at the end of every chapter or section to answer questions.  Progeny Press suggested reading the entire book and then going back and rereading the sections as necessary. He really appreciated that and felt like it helped with both the flow and enjoyment of the book.

Once he had completed the prereading activities and read the entire book, he went back and started completing the questions for each section. There are two different ways to approach having a child answer the questions. This is a self-guided study and you can have the child answer the questions on the computer in adobe or you can print it out and have them answer the questions on paper. My son preferred to answer them on the computer and appreciated that many of the questions offered drop down boxes with choices.

The book was great. I really liked the drop down boxes on some of the questions. I did not like that there was so much grammar/vocabulary study included.

He is a student that prefers book studies to be more focused on the content of the book and was not as fond of having to deal with vocabulary and grammar in the form of synonyms and antonyms and literary terms. As a parent/teacher I see the value in including those components and feel that they are an important part of a well rounded education.

Once the questions in the guide are completed there are writing and ‘after you read’ activities that you can use to wrap up your study. Many of these offer opportunities to think more deeply and critically about the content and themes of the book. For example one of the prompts for this book has them looking at times and ways in which people groups have been dehumanized throughout history. There are also hands on activities like painting a scene from the book or creating a diorama. My son is going to create a painting but has not finished that part of the study yet.

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At the end of the study Progeny Press includes  a list of additional resources that the student can use to continue the learning. There is also an answer key to make grading easy for the parent. While we did discuss the book as a family, it was very easy for my son to work independently and for me to grade his work without me needing to actually read the book. With four children, this is definitely a benefit because I can not keep up with reading everything they read.

I think it is important to note that these eGuides are written from a Christian perspective. There are tie-ins to scripture and discussion questions that have the student analyzing how different parts of the book line up with scripture. However, the books themselves are not necessarily written from a Christian perspective. The Scavengers – eGuide was a really interesting experience for us and while I do not plan on making these our entire curriculum, I could certainly see us using some of their other eGuides in our literature studies.

I encourage you to check out the many eGuides available at Progeny Press and other Review Crew reviews about some different titles below. I’d love to hear in the comments which one most interests you.

New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Pocketful of Pinecones

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Pocketful of Pinecones (aff) had been on my ‘to-read’ list for quite some time. I purchased it months ago and finally had the chance to read it. I often describe our schooling style as ‘Charlotte Mason-Eclectic’ and I love nature study. Even with my love of nature study we don’t do it as often as I’d like so simple easy ideas are always welcome.

Since my reading time has been more limited over the last few years I’ve tended toward nonfiction titles that I felt were beneficial to my growth, but I’ve missed the fun fictional books. This book was the best of both worlds. It is a book with ideas and thoughts about nature study woven into a fictional story.

The story is set in New England in the mid 1930s. It shares the story of Carol and her children as they embark on their first year of homeschooling. The book is divided into seasons and each chapter is a diary entry from the mom sharing what they did that day. The chapters are short and easy to read, making it a great choice for a busy mom that may not have long stretches of time to read.

She shares ideas of how they found various things to study in their nature study, working on their nature journals, books for learning more, and great quotes and copy work.  At the end of each chapter there is at least one question to help you follow up and apply that chapter to your own nature study with your children.

While I really loved this book, I do feel like I should mention that it was a little unrealistic in a happy ‘hallmark movie’ kind of way. While they had a few difficult situations, everything always wrapped up very nicely and more simply than what I tend to experience in real life.

If you are new to nature study this is a great book for giving you ideas to get started and understand more about what nature study might look like in your home. If like me, you have been doing nature study for awhile this book can help give you fresh ideas and reignite that excitement about sharing nature with your students.

The author, Karen Androla has another book about this family, Lessons at Blackberry Inn (aff) which I’m hoping to purchase and read soon. She also has a non-fiction text, A Charlotte Mason Companion (aff), which I have found to be very useful in understanding the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

Give Your Child The World is on sale on Kindle for less than $1.

Amazon Prime Day is coming up Tomorrow with LOTS of great sales. If you are not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free 30 day trial to take advantage of the great sales.

$0.99 for 3 Months of Kindle Unlimted (limited time offer)

This might be my favorite deal, 66% off a 3 month subscription to Audible. If you have not tried it, now is the time!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

Homeschool Homestead: Canning and Preserving

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Peeling Tomatoes

Every year we plan a couple of big ‘canning days’ and every year about half way through I say I’m never doing it again. Then we finish up and have all the yummy food ready for us all winter and I realize yet again that it was worth the time and energy.

If you are new to canning you should know that you don’t have to go crazy like we do and try to can ‘all the things’. Pick one or two things that you have an abundance of or are readily available at your local farmers market and try a small batch. You can work your way up from there!

We enjoy using canning as a part of the homesteading and homeschooling process. The children learn about food preservation, fill our pantry for the winter, learn about nutrition, and practice math skills (measuring, weighing, multiplying and dividing recipes). It’s also a great way to give responsibility to older learners. While there are parts of canning that need to be handled by a responsible adult or an older child, there are many parts of the process that are suitable for young children. My little ones tend to especially enjoy peeling tomatoes or peaches and shucking corn! I will answer some of the most common questions I hear about canning below to help you get started!

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What do you can?

We can a wide variety of things from tomatoes to peaches, salsa to turkey broth. We also enjoy pie fillings and jams for sweet treats in the winter months. We even can strawberry lemonade concentrate which is like a little burst of sunshine during cold winter. Just about any produce can be safely canned, some might need a little sugar or acid, but there’s loads of recipes here.

Is it better to use a water bath canner or a pressure canner?

That depends on what you want to can. I recommend starting with a water bath canner BUT some things are not safe to can in a water bath canner. In general, most fruits and pickles are water bathed and meats and vegetables are pressure canned but you can find out for each specific item on the websites in the resources below.

How do I learn how to can?

I recommend doing some research before you get started canning. If you like books the Ball Canning Guide is an authoritative resource as is the National Center for Food Preservation (USDA).  Many people learn better by watching or participating in a hands on class. Check with your local cooperative extension as they often offer free or inexpensive classes on canning. Also, many people that enjoy canning are happy to teach their friends and neighbors. If you have a friend or neighbor teach you, please make sure that you choose someone who is following the recommended safety procedures; there’s lots of ‘old timey’ techniques that aren’t necessarily safe

What resources do you need?

Canner: Water Bath or Pressure (depending on what you want to can)

Canning tools (jar lifter, magnet, canning funnel) These sometimes come with water bath canners like the set above and are also sold separately.

Jars and lids: Jars are reusable and typically cheaper locally than online due to shipping. Always make sure you use canning jars as other jars may not be rated for the heat. Metal lids are one time use, but the rings can be used multiple times. There is a little more of a learning curve but once you are comfortable with the canning process you can use Tattler Lids which are reusable, but cost a bit more.

Recipes: Unlike much of cooking you it is not safe to freelance on your canning recipes. Canning recipes are specifically designed and tested for safety. There are many resources out there with recipes but not all of them have been tested for safety. Two of the most used and recommended resources that are tested and trusted are the USDA and Ball. If you intend to enter canned goods into a fair, many require recipes to be from one of these two sources.

What are your favorite things to can?

As my friend Crystal would say, “Can all the things.”  Really though we enjoy canning a variety of different items. Pickles are one of my favorite even though they are little time consuming the rewards are great. We also really like corn salsa (we canned over 50 jars of corn salsa this week). For starting out I recommend jams or fruits as they tend to be simple but delicious and easy to do in small batches.

Why do you can?

We can for several reasons. We love to know where our food came from and support local farmers, we like controlling the ingredients, and enjoy the team building aspects of family canning.  We also love to see the children engaged and contributing to the household.

Do you have to grow a huge garden in order to can?

Absolutely not! While growing a large garden is a great way to get produce to can, we often purchase produce in bulk from local farmers in order to can enough for our family’s needs.  You can find local farm stands, u-pick farms, or even barter with a neighbor that might have an abundance.

Is it safe?

A quick Google search can lead you to horror stories of canning gone wrong. There is a very real danger to inappropriate canning. Botulism is nothing to play around with, however, as long as you are following safety-tested recipes and procedures canning is very safe. Follow the correct recipes, canning times, and canning procedures and your food is just as a safe (or maybe safer) than what you are buying in the store.

Key Safety Points:

  • Follow a tested recipe
  • Use the appropriate canner (never water bath a low acid food that should be pressure canned)
  • Make sure you have a good seal

What homeschool skills are taught/reinforced?

In addition to it being a valuable life skill in and of itself, there is a lot of math that we use in canning. Measuring and weighing ingredients, multiplying or dividing when we need to halve or double a recipe, elapsed time when determining what time the canners will be done, we’re even considering getting into pH calculations and specific gravity as their chemistry advances to those skills. It is also a good lesson in nutrition as you talk about needing fruits and vegetables all year and preserving them for the winter when they are not able to be grown locally.

 

We just finished up over 50 jars of corn salsa and 11 jars of plain tomatoes this week. I’m hoping to get a chance to can more tomatoes this summer and my daughter wants to make some blueberry jam to enter into our state fair.  Canning is a lot of work but it is very rewarding work and we enjoy spending the time working together as a family. Leave me a comment with your favorite thing to can or any canning questions that you might have.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

Give Your Child The World is on sale on Kindle for less than $1.

Amazon Prime Day is coming up next week with LOTS of great sales. If you are not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free 30 day trial to take advantage of the great sales.

$0.99 for 3 Months of Kindle Unlimted (limited time offer)

This might be my favorite deal, 66% off a 3 month subscription to Audible. If you have not tried it, now is the time!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Lazy Days of Summer?

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I have so many thoughts I want to share with you. To keep from getting longwinded today I’ll just give you a brief overview of what has been going on in our school and our life.  I have a list of posts that I want to write and share but the baby is in a stage that is not allowing me as much writing time as I need to get all of those posts done. I’m hoping to get back on a more regular schedule soon but we will take one day at a time.

I don’t know how those of you who regularly school year round do it. We are normally done by Memorial Day but this year we took some time off when the baby was born and took a trip in April and so we are still not done. Trying to juggle all of the fun summer activities and school is a feat I hope not to repeat again next year. I know that it works well for some of you and I firmly believe that you should do what works for your family. It feels like between VBS, day camp, 4-H activities, visiting with out of town friends and family that came in for a visit, and other ‘summer’ activities we are not making much progress in our school work.

We have wrapped up most of our school work but still have a few spelling lessons, my son has a few math lessons, and we are still working on some review products that I’ll be sharing about soon. If we were completing a normal school week we would be finished but since we have been spreading it out in between everything else I think it will take us another two weeks to complete the spelling and math. We will continue working on review products some throughout the summer.  My goal for next summer is to have completed all of our regular school work and only have enrichment activities and review products.

While June may not have seen the completion of as much academic work as I would have liked it was full of fun and learning.  We did VBS at church (it was my oldest son’s first time as a helper and not a participant). Then we did a two day ‘ day camp’ with their Trail Life and American Heritage Girls troops. They had so much fun hiking, gardening, taking apart motors, and sewing. Those girls had the best time using their sewing machines to make stuffed animals and accessories.

 

Then a fun minor league baseball game with some friends. Go Wood Ducks! We finished out the month with the children participating in an Independence Day parade at a local festival, the Croaker Festival. I have attended this festival all but one year since I was a young child and it was so much fun to see them in the parade.  Then we spent a few days enjoying some time on the river swimming, fishing, tubing, and hanging out with friends and family from near and far.  They might not be lazy days but they sure were blessed days!

We are looking forward to several 4-H day camps, the state poultry team competition, state 4-H presentations, a camp out and a tea party. We also have some canning and gardening to get done! In between all of that we can hopefully wrap up the school year and enjoy some more time on the river.

I’d love to know what you are up to this summer. Are your days full of activity or slow and relaxed this time of year?

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

Bible Study Guide For All Ages (review)

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When people ask me which is the best Bible curriculum, I always ask them what they are looking for in a Bible curriculum. Sometimes people want a good devotional; sometimes they want a scripture memorization program or maybe a study of character traits. There are many options when it comes to Bible study and we have used a variety depending on our needs at the time.  Bible Study Guide For All Ages is an orderly study of the scripture and its key components and characters starting with Genesis and moving forward.  We had the privilege of reviewing both the Advanced (5th & 6th grade) level and the Beginner (3-K) level.

My goal was for us to be able to use this program as a family. The two levels used the same Bible verses and story for each lesson with different activities. When we tried the first lesson I was concerned that I had taken on more that we could successfully complete with this review, but within a couple of lessons we had figured out a rhythm and made it work for the whole family.

As I was figuring out the program and how it would look for us as a family it took about 45 minutes to complete the first lesson. However, once I was used to the flow and the children understood what was expected of them it was taking us about 20-25 minutes to complete a lesson.

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I was using the Advanced (5th & 6th grade) program with my rising 5th and 7th graders. While my oldest is technically aging out of their suggested range, I still plan to use it with him next year as I think he will continue to learn from it and I like being able to study through the Bible together as a family.  At the same time, my four year old was using the Beginner (3-K) level. When we first started I was having a bit of a time working out doing it all together. The four year old has a fairly typical four year-old attention span (aka short) and would get distracted while I helped the older children. However, with-in a couple of lessons we had found a rhythm and flow that allowed us to all work together.  I received the consumable workbooks for both levels, a teachers guide for the advanced level and the Bible Book Summary Cards.

The Beginner (3-K) level has review questions at the beginning of each lesson. There are also some songs that you can sing to help with remembering but they come on a CD as an additional purchase. I am considering purchasing the CD to use during the upcoming school year. Next, there is either an activity or discussion questions that lead into the Bible story. For example, in lesson three, one of the discussion questions was about mom having made cookies and told you that you could eat one after dinner and then leaving the kitchen. You want to eat one now, but what should you do?

 

Bible Study Guide for All Ages 

Next, is the Bible story. They give you the scripture reference and you read it directly from the Bible. This was a feature that I really liked because I knew that they were getting actual scripture and I could choose the translation that our family found to be most appropriate. Once I read the scripture there were a variety of questions and activities for the child to complete to help with understanding and remembering the story. For example, he may be asked to circle the correct picture in a series of pictures to go along with the story, or to color a person from the story. There might be words to trace for another question. Each story had about 5-10 of these questions.

Once those were complete, there was an Apply It! section where you discussed what you learned and how it should apply to our lives. This was done in fairly simple and easy to understand terms that were appropriate for the target age range. There was also a picture that could be colored to go along with the story.  I typically used the picture as something my four year old could do while I was working with the older children.

The Advanced (5th & 6th grade) level was set up in a similar way but was more in-depth based on the target audience.  They started with memory work and review questions. Included in their memory work were Bible Book Summary Cards. There was a card for each book of the Bible and you work with the one for the book you are currently studying. the front of the card has pictures to help you remember the key points from that book of scripture and the back and a summary of the book and questions that you can ask to help the students remember what is included in that book of the Bible.

Next, you read the story and they have a series of questions like the beginner level. Their questions often require them to fill in the blanks or choose the right answer.  Once that is completed they have timeline or map work. There is a printed timeline on each of their activity pages and they use that timeline to answer a series of questions and fill in answers on the timeline. For example, one question in the first lesson had them answer how many years Abraham lived before the birth of Jesus. Another question had them draw Joseph’s coat near a picture of the 12 sons.  For the pages with map work it is set up similarly with a map instead of a timeline. They also have a Wall Maps and Timeline set that you can purchase to go with your program. These are maps and timeline to be hung on the wall and used as a group. They also have timeline figures that you can purchase to go with the wall timeline that the children can add as you progress. This is a great way to help them visualize the timeline of the Bible.  For the younger children there is also a beginner timeline that can be purchased to use with your non-readers. It is set up on cards with large pictures.

Get Active! was the next section. Some of those activities were things like writing down the name of someone they knew that was feeling down. They were to commit to themselves to encourage that person and pray for them.  There were times when these activities were designed around having a small group of students to complete the activity (like a skit). Most of those were easily modified or you could simply skip that step that day. The lessons are complete enough without that step that I don’t feel like it was a problem to skip it on days when it was not practical to complete the activity.  Then we finished up with the Apply it! section where we talked about and answered questions about how the story effects our lives and what God is teaching us through this lesson.

What did I think and how will we use this program?

After a bit of a learning curve getting started (particularly with combining ages), we really enjoyed the program. The children were learning the stories and even though its summer they did not mind sitting down to do the lessons. My four year old absolutely loved that he was able to participate with the older children and had his own papers. I liked that it was thorough and stuck to scripture. Because it focused on actual stories and information from scripture and not interpretation I think it would be a great fit for a wide variety of denominational backgrounds.

As a family we are listening to a section of the Bible each day in order to listen to the Bible in a year and also have some devotionals that we are working through but I plan to continue using this next school year. My plan is for us to complete 2-3 lessons per week as a family. I believe that this program will help give them a strong foundation in knowing what the Bible says and understanding the timeline of events.

There are some great sample pages and information on the website and I encourage you to check them out to see if they would be a good fit for you. You can also check out the other reviews by our review crew to get more information, learn about the other levels, and see some of the other features that are available.

Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Read Aloud Family Chapter 8: Set Yourself Up for Success

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‘Books are like watermelon’

Have you ever worked really hard to set up the perfect read aloud setting? You know…made tea and crumpets with jam, adjusted the chairs (or beanbag pillows) just so? Only to have a toddler melt-down? An older kid suddenly remember an assignment or project that they must do? Bath time take longer than you planned? Unfortunately, more times than I care to admit we’ve lost the opportunity and wound up not reading at all.

There is something wonderful and fun about baking treats and setting up a fun ‘book club’ culture for your read aloud, BUT sometimes that just isn’t the reality. I find that especially when you are dealing with preschoolers and young children sometimes you just need to take the opportunity and read.

If I spend 20 or 30 minutes getting everything ready I may miss the opportunity. If I keep books lying around in plain sight, I’m more likely to remember to just stop and spend a few minutes reading. I don’t have to wait until we have a whole afternoon to spend reading. Just 10 minutes a day can allow us to work our way through a book.

Another lesson that I learned in setting myself up for success is to not wait until evening. While we occasionally read in the evening, I found that I’m much less likely to read if I wait. After dinner time tends to get taken up quickly with clean up, baths, etc. and the preschooler gets tired and disruptive. If I go ahead and read before dinner or in the morning, we are much more likely to actually read.

Screen time is an often debated and sometimes controversial topic but I think the points she brings up in this chapter are so very important. While every family has to make their own rules about screen time it is important to remember that even as adults the lure of screens can take us away from better options. I love the analogy of books being like watermelon and screens like candy. If I offer my children watermelon, they are happy and enjoy the sweet juicy (healthy) treat.  However, like most children if I give them a choice between watermelon and candy they are likely to choose candy. There is nothing wrong with candy in moderation, just like screens but it important that we help our children make books the default choice.

In order to help with that screen time balance and to help make books the default she suggests, “instead of certain times of day when screens are not an option, set times when they are. “ This helps keep the parents from constantly having to answer questions about screen time and helps other options like reading and active play as the default activities.

I know in our family the more screen time I allow, the more they crave. We have occasionally taken a week long fast from screens and after a couple of day they stop missing them and return to naturally enjoying other activities.

Overall, keep it simple, keep books accessible, and make reading a default choice. In doing these things we set ourselves up for success in reading aloud. What simple changes can you make to help make reading the default in your family culture?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

You Are An Artist is having a 25% off sale this week on several of their programs including American Landmarks, Sharks, Backyard Nature Study, Seashores and more. There are some great free lessons you can try to see if this program is a good fit for your kids.

Art Adventures with ChalkPastel.com

If you are looking for a reasonably priced homeschool curriculum to get you going next year then this is a great deal! We use it for my preschooler as well as select courses for my middle schooler. The price is for all the classes for all of the children in your home and this is a great 3 day sale! By Fall they will have over 400 courses all included for that same price! https://schoolhouseteachers.com/dap/a/?a=59468 (ref)

america-meme

Read Aloud Family Chapter 7: Debunking 5 Myths

read aloud family

Years ago when I first started homeschooling, I had visions of us all sitting curled up on the couch with me reading.  The children would be sitting quietly with their full attention tuned to what I was reading. Sound familiar? That vision was never our reality. Thankfully it did not take me long to figure out that my son was not going to sit quietly and contentedly for me to read. However, if I gave him something to occupy his hands, we could still enjoy many great books together.

This is what myth four in chapter 7 of the Read Aloud Family(aff) is all about. ”My kids should be sitting still while I read aloud to them.” For many children sitting still will actually make it harder for them to focus on what you are reading. By providing something for their hands (and sometimes bodies) to do their brains can more easily focus on the story. My daughter enjoys coloring, crafting and my oldest son tends to build with Legos or sketch in his notebook. My four year old will color, build with blocks, or play in a sensory bin. He even tends to wander around the room if I’m reading a chapter book but as long as he isn’t disruptive we let him go. He will sit with me to read picture books with him and we talk about the pictures and the story.

Another myth that hits close to home is myth number two, “It only counts as reading aloud if you do the reading yourself.” We love to listen to audio books while we ride. I can’t read aloud in the car because I get car sick but a good story makes the miles go by quicker (and more peacefully). Sometimes this feels a bit like ‘cheating’ since I’m not actually doing the reading but the children are still getting the benefits of a read aloud. We have listened to many stories as a family while driving. In addition to the benefits of the read aloud (vocabulary, story, etc), it makes long drives so much more pleasant. I’m sure we aren’t the only family who struggles with unrest during long car rides.  The children tend to ride more contentedly with less arguing when there is a story being told.

While all 5 myths are important, the one that I needed to hear most and that I’m still working on remembering is, “light books don’t count.” Light books most certainly count and can have a great many benefits. There are so many classics that I want my children to know, it can be hard to remember that it really can be beneficial to read light and fun books together as a family.  Like many things in life, there is a time and place for classics and a time and place for light and fun books. We recently read Mr. Lemoncellos’s Library. The children, and myself, laughed through most of the book. It was fun to just enjoy a funny story together.

Remember it doesn’t have to look like the picture in your mind, be an extended process (even ten minutes of reading is beneficial), be a classic book, or even be you doing the reading for your family to get the benefits of reading aloud. Don’t wait for the perfect time or even the perfect book. Grab a book from your shelf and get started today! Which myth most resonated with your family?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

You Are An Artist is having a 25% off sale this week on several of their programs including American Landmarks, Sharks, Backyard Nature Study, Seashores and more. There are some great free lessons you can try to see if this program is a good fit for your kids.

Art Adventures with ChalkPastel.com

If you are looking for a reasonably priced homeschool curriculum to get you going next year then this is a great deal! We use it for my preschooler as well as select courses for my middle schooler. The price is for all the classes for all of the children in your home and this is a great 3 day sale! By Fall they will have over 400 courses all included for that same price! https://schoolhouseteachers.com/dap/a/?a=59468 (ref)

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Our Summer of Reading!

My ‘big goal’, this summer, is to have a summer full of reading for the whole family!

I’ve been leading a book study on, The Read Aloud Family (aff) and I was very much convicted that I needed to get back to spending more time reading both aloud to my children and on my own. I have loved reading since I was a small child but as an adult I found that the busyness of life and the ready availability of technology made it easy to put my reading aside.

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal of reading 12 books during my personal reading time and I’m well on my way to achieving that goal.I am working hard to put the phone/computer away earlier at night and settle in with a chapter or two in a good book. I also am trying to go back to reading being my default activity if I have to wait somewhere instead of scrolling through my social media.

In addition to my personal reading, I really want to make sure that I’m prioritizing reading aloud to my children.  Reading aloud to the little ones comes naturally and easily most days. The picture books take only a few minutes to read and the four year old is always reminding me ( some would say begging me) to read.

Reading aloud to my older children (12 and 10) has been far more apt to get pushed to the side. I always planned to read aloud to them at the end of the night just before bed. It seemed like such a great way to wrap up the day. However, the reality of our life is that the end of the day almost never worked out like I wanted it to. The little ones were tired and cranky, I was exhausted many nights, and clean up and showers always took longer than we planned.

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So what is a mom to do? I decided to switch things up and try reading at other times. Sometimes I’m reading in the mornings and sometimes I’ve been reading in the late afternoon while we sit on the front porch. I keep the book handy and I try to make reading aloud my default whenever we have a few extra minutes. I’m still a work in progress, but I am definitely seeing an increase in our read aloud times.

We are also working as a family to make reading a fun and enjoyable part of the summer. The older children both have comfy spots in their rooms to read as well as hammocks that they can hang outside if they want to read outside. We make sure that their shelves are well stocked with lots of books that interest them so that picking a new one is fun and easy.

To help hold me accountable and encourage others to join me on this journey I’ve been posting pictures of the books we are reading and the children reading in various places on my Instagram. I’d love to have you join us! Share a picture of your current book or your favorite reading spot. Join me in making this the summer of reading and making memories with our children. If you are looking for more help with incorporating reading into your home check out our 5 Days for the Love of Reading Series.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Friday Deals and Freebies!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

Starting tomorrow (Saturday) You Are An Artist is having a 25% off sale on several of their programs including American Landmarks, Sharks, Backyard Nature Study, Seashores and more. There are some great free lessons you can try to see if this program is a good fit for your kids.

Art Adventures with ChalkPastel.com

 Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

The Master and His Apprentices (Art History) Review

The Master and His Apprentices

I am excited to share with you my family’s new favorite art history resource. The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective is a full art history course that would satisfy requirements for a high school elective credit if it was completed as written. However, my children are in middle and elementary school and so we took a different route for this review and used it as a supplement.  We love incorporating a bit of art into our history studies. The layout of this program makes that so simple.

Honestly, art history is not a strong subject for me. It was not something that was covered much at all during my educational experience (I did get a little in a fine arts course in college). This can sometimes make it difficult to include in my children’s studies without doing a lot of research and work. I love that this art history book by The Master and His Apprentices made it so easy for me to find what I needed. the chronological layout makes it a perfect fit for using it to supplement our history program.

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The textbook starts all the way back at creation and shares about God as the master artist and his creations. Then it moves into art in ancient cultures and moves forward chronologically through modern times.

As we have been studying more modern history we skipped towards the end of the book and focused on chapter 18, Rococo to Today. I would read the information aloud and then show the children the art work on our television screen (hooked to our computer). We then talked through some of the discussion questions and just a general conversation about the art work. Since we were not using it as a high school course but rather a supplement we did not complete the exams or suggested papers.

Important Highlights From the Website

  • Written from a Christian perspective
  • Contain NO nudity or other objectionable material
  • Satisfies requirements for a full high school elective credit
  • Helps readers create a “visual” timeline of biblical and world events

I was really pleased to have a resource that had so much wonderful art from so many different cultures and time periods. That was made even better by not having to be concerned about whether the art work was appropriate for the children. This was truly the first resource I’ve ever found that was so comprehensive in the coverage of art work while not including any nudity or other inappropriate material.

The pictures were beautiful and included such a variety of art work. I loved that in addition to paintings, sculptures, and other traditional art they included lots of architecture and other pieces that were created as more than just artistic works.

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In the fall, we will be studying ancient history and I’m so excited to be able to use this to tie art into our studies. In addition to be separated chronologically they have it separated by culture. This means that when we read about Ancient Egypt, I can show them art work from Ancient Egypt, and the same for Greece, Rome, etc. I think it will be so powerful to be able to show them examples of canopic jars when we talk about mummies, statues and mosaics from ancient Greece, and Roman Architecture. I really enjoyed how they tied in Biblical events and references throughout the book.

The textbook includes several resources that really added to the ability to use this book as a supplemental resource. There was a great breakdown of art work from various geographic regions. This would be a great way to study art from one area over the course of time. Then they had a lengthy index that would make finding information or art very easy. There was also a section explaining various art terms. There was so much history included in this art history book that it could probably function as a complete world history course with a little bit of supplementation.

The teachers manual included a sample syllabus that could be used to make it a full high school class. The syllabus and included worksheets and exams would make it a very easy to implement class, even for those people like myself that do not have a strong art background. They have separate instructions for using this in a classroom (or co-op) setting and at home, answer keys for the worksheets and exams, and art history paper instructions.

I am looking forward to using The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective  to supplement our history studies for the next several years and possibly using it as a full course for my children once they reach high school. The worksheets in the teachers guide are considered consumable and for use by only one child. However, they only charge an additional $2 for each additional child making this a great resource to use with multiple children.  While the hardback version of this book would be out of our price range (through probably a reasonable price given the number of full color pictures) the digital version is very reasonably priced, especially for a resource that I can use for years to come.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

How We Celebrate Independence Day!

“It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [shows], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” John Adams

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The 4th of July or Independence Day is a fun filled and educational holiday in our home.  On or around the 4th of July we are blessed to be able to celebrate with family and friends (some of whom live in other states and only come to visit once a year). We enjoy a great local festival and parade, lots of good food, some lazy time on the river, and hours spent catching up with old friends. However, we also want to make sure that our children understand the significance of this holiday.

Our local historical site and the first permanent capitol of North Carolina, Tryon Palace, offers a day full of fun and education on the ‘Glorious Fourth’. As volunteers with Tryon Palace we will spend a portion of our day assisting in teaching others about the history and significance of July 4th. My husband is involved with their Continental Line unit and my children will be demonstrate how to load and fire a cannon (using a child sized model), colonial games, and answering questions about colonial and revolutionary times from a child’s perspective.

 

They also get to hear a great recitation of the Deceleration of Independence and talk with other historical interpreters as they revisit that day in history.  For our family this is the perfect balance of fun and education.  Many towns and historical sites have fun Independence Day activities and I encourage you to try to find one near you.

In addition to an educational program there are many fun activities you can do leading up to Independence Day. I’ve included some resources below that can get you started on a great study of the history behind this celebration and some fun hands on art activities. We would love to hear how you celebrate July 4th.

 

Resources

(May include Affiliate Links)

Liberty’s Kids DVD

American Landmarks Art Course (including the Washington Monument with Fireworks!)

7 Layer Flag Dip (my daughter is making this one for us this year)

What is the Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July Story

Independence National Historical Park (some great online resources for those that can’t visit)

Fourth of July Scavenger Hunt

How Fireworks Get Their Color

Videos and Activities on Declaration of Independence

Fireworks with a Fork (I’m so excited to try this one with the 4 year old)

Declaration of Independence Worksheet

 

 

Resource Library

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.