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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Clutter Free Christmas Ideas

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Christmas can be overwhelming!  Selecting presents and the budgeting that goes along with that, family trips, social obligations, church functions, trips to see Santa, lights, decorating, not to mention the deep spiritual aspects of the holiday.  I feel that and I want Christmas to be a joyful celebration with my family, but all the ‘hustle and bustle’ plus my daughter’s birthday the first week of January, often leaves us frazzled and gasping for ‘white space.’

For some it is not knowing what to buy and for some of us it is the overwhelming amount of stuff and clutter that tends to come into our homes during this time. I am so grateful that so many people love our children and wish to bless them. However, we also only have so much space and often when there are too many toys they don’t get played with and they become clutter and ultimately not appreciated. In addition to taking up space, it is also harder for children to clean up when there is so much stuff. Rather than go crazy and throw everything out (don’t tell me it hasn’t crossed your mind once or twice) or tell everyone they can only buy socks and underwear (how do they disappear so quickly) I’ve put together a list of ideas that are fun, educational, and hopefully won’t become clutter. There are books, CDs, art supplies, and creative kits. Another idea is to see if family members are willing to work together to buy something larger like a bicycle or if grandparents would buy a family gift like a basketball goal.

In addition to these ideas, one year we did what we called the Twelve Christmas Adventures. We came up with twelve family adventures that we could do, one each month, and gave the children a list and information about each one at Christmas. This spread the fun (and expense) throughout the year and they really loved it. I’ll do a more detailed post about those Christmas Adventures next week because it is a post all it’s own.

Some of them are not physical items, some get used up, and some are just items that really get used and played with in our home.  It is my prayer that this list can help give you ideas to lessen the overwhelming clutter of this time of year and help you regain the sense of joy and peace that we wish would fill our holidays.

Share your favorite gift ideas in the comments!

 

Kindle and Books:

Kindle

There are many great Kindle Books to go along with this and they take up no extra space. You can even often fnd free ones. Here is a link to some Christmas ones that you could preload onto the Kindle.If you don’t want to get a Kindle but still like these books you can also use the free Kindle Reader App.

Audio CDs for the Family:

Art Supplies:

Experiences:

  • Museum Membership
  • Aquarium or Zoo membership (ours actually includes all 3 of our state aquariums and the NC Zoo)
  • Movie Tickets
  • Ice Skating or Roller Skating
  • A Play or Symphony (Our symphony even has special performances designed to engage children)
  • A Camping Trip (if you already have the gear this is a very inexpensive way to make some great family memories)
  • A Gift Certificate to a Favorite Restaurant

Magazine Subscriptions:

Legos:

(So these are toys and could still become clutter, in our house however, they are prized possessions and used frequently. We feel that they are able to be contained, well used, and worth the extra bit of room they take up.)

Lego City  (This series has some great buildings, boats, etc)

Friends (This series is more geared towards girls with more pink and purple blocks and other ‘girly’ aspects)

Lego Architecture (These are awesome for older children. They feature smaller more intricate designs of famous buildings. )

Lego Classic  (These are assorted blocks that can be turned into many different creations, great for using your imagination.)

 

Lessons:

You Are an Artist Chalk Pastel Lessons

Mark Kistler Art Lessons

Piano Lessons Online (or find someone local)

Guitar Lessons Online (or find someone local)

 

Books:

Otis series (Great for Preschool Age Children)

Chronicles of Narnia ( A family favorite)

Mandie Series ( A mystery series featuring a young girl. )

Green Ember (A great story of good versus evil, does have some scary parts that might be a bit much for sensitive readers.)

Little House on the Prairie (great for the whole family)

Outdoor Fun:

Basketball Hoop (makes a great family gift)

Hammock Seat

Swings

Sand Toys

Razor Scooters (My children love theirs and play with them several times a week and more in good weather. )

Bicycle and don’t forget the Helmet

Kits and Subscriptions

Cricket (24-36 months)

Koala (3-4 years)

Kiwi (5-8)

Doodle (9-16)

Tinker (9-16)

This link will get you 60% off of your first box in any of the above subscriptions through 11/27.

Bookroo (Board and Picture Book Subscription Options geared towards birth to age 6, these are adorable books that come individually wrapped and are so much fun for them to unwrap.)

Great Kids Snack Box ( A monthly box of gluten free snacks)

Fun Education Supplies:

Pattern Blocks

My First Science Kit

Big Bag of Science

Solar Rover

Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab

Snap Circuits

Lacing Cards

For Adults

If you happen to be looking for a few clutter free ideas for the adults in your life then check out these options.

HelloFresh (This is a meal delivery service. They deliver the ingredients and the instructions for a meal ready to cook in about 30-40 minutes. They are normally very yummy and healthy. If you use this link you can even get $40 off your first box.)

Grove Collaborative (Cute natural cleaning sets, body products, etc and you get $10 off your first purchase using this link. )

Amazon Prime Gift Subscription (You can give the gift of Amazon Prime for 3 months or a year, includes free 2 day shipping, movies, music, and more. )

 

If you didn’t find enough ideas in my list then check out the Gift Guides by Educents, they have ideas by age and subject. They are even running a special. Use the code HOLIDAY for an extra 10% off your purchase.

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Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List.

When you sign up for our 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. 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

Last Day for Schoolhouse Teachers and Tummy Team Sales!

30% off Online Rehab with Tummy Team. This one isn’t specifically home school related but so many mamas are struggling with this that I wanted to share. Please feel free to message me with any questions and share this post with anyone that might be interested. If you are struggling with diastasis or pelvic floor issues the Tummy Team has some great online PT programs. I did their Core Foundations and saw a huge improvement and I’m going to do the prenatal crash course. Right now they are having a 30% off sale with the code Thankful2017. I know this can be an issue for a lot of mamas so I figured I’d share. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experiences.  (ref)

Need a good way to organize all of these great printables and have access to them when you need them? Try a free Dropbox Plan.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Apologia is running a free shipping special and other sales throughout the month. Right now they are offering 20% off of their children’s books.

Schoolhouse Teachers has a great Flash Sale going on right now! This is HUGE.. This sale is a $139 BOGO! Buy one year, get one year free – so essentially, $69.50 per year! That is less than a $100 per year for curriculum for your whole household. This deal is only good through today Nov. 17th so act fast!

The Green Ember is only $2.99 on Kindle or Free with a KindleUnlimited Trial

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering a great deal on Discovery Education Streaming right now. 60% off and bonus Smart Points redeemable for other products. We have used this in the past and enjoyed it.

Two Free Audio Books with an Audible Trial and if you aren’t sure what to start with I’d suggest checking out the Green Ember or The Penderwicks for good family choices.

Lifegiving Table: Living Out Grace (Chapter 8)

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Fondue Snack Meal (Low Prep Feasting)

” A wise discipler must make space for rest and beauty in the midst of life.”

 

There was a time in my life when I was so overwhelmed with all that had to be done that I basically ‘outlawed’ all of the beautiful things that add such depth and warmth to our lives. I said no to planting flowers, no to decorating for most holidays (except Christmas I never did give up Christmas), and no candles burning warmly. I was trying to find peace and calm in the midst of working, starting a home business, raising two children, helping with a church plant and more. Fast forward a few years and I’ve learned that while we do need to prioritize and sometimes simplify, we can have beauty without a lot of added stress.  Now we plant flower bulbs (work once and get years of enjoyment),  my daughter has made beautiful place mats that grace our table in different seasons but also wash easily and don’t add to my workload, and most days you will find flowers either in a pot on a vase on our table. That $3.99 on flowers every few weeks is well spent for all of the smiles and beauty they add to our house.  These things add beauty to our lives but don’t’ steal our peace.  (A post for another day but getting rid of things that you don’t need and don’t’ add beauty can add space and margin for those things that do add beauty.)

During that busy time when I outlawed all of those ‘extras’ I was living in survival mode. I really love Sally’s words about sustainability in the midst of life’s crazy times. What can we do in the midst of it all to bring peace and comfort to ourselves and our family? How can we live out our ideals in ways that work for the season that we are living in right now? Maybe this week that means that instead of feasting on a five course dinner you eat Chic-fil-a with a smile and a good conversation. Maybe it means that we make a large pot of soup and eat that for several meals this week. Or we utilize our crock pots to have dinner ready instead of cooking during the ‘witching’ hour. That can be particularly helpful if you have small children that tend to melt down during that time you would normally cook dinner. Spend a few minutes this week thinking of ways that you can make life sustainable for your family during this season.

The section on being prepared is a great one because it makes such an impact in our day to day lives. There was a time when I didn’t think I had time to be prepared and I was living day by day and hour by hour. However, I’ve found that a little time spent in preparation saves a lot of time later and adds a huge amount of peace and sustainability to our lives.  She used examples like keeping bread in the freezer and having cookie balls ready to be popped in the oven as needed.  She also talked about snack meals which were simple, low prep ways to feed your family on those crazy evenings when you are exhausted. It worked out well that on Friday we had our own version of a snack meal. My daughter loves fondue but my husband dislikes how long it takes to cook and eat it at home. So, we came up with a compromise that was so easy and so fun. We did cheese fondue with a tray of sliced cured meats (think don’t need to be cooked). It only took about 15 minutes of preparation and we had a tasty meal that delighted the children.

Sally talks towards the end of the chapter about “Living Well in the Midst of Life”. It is so important to remember that many seasons are going to be busy and each time brings its own challenges, whether it is the midnight feedings of a new born, the insatiable energy of a toddler, schooling and activities with an elementary school student, puberty, friends and emotions with pre-teens and teen. Each season of parenting has joys and challenges.  While it will look different in each season, we can’t wait to start living out our ideals until things slow down or things are easier. We are only promised today and we need to use the time we have to the best of our abilities. This doesn’t mean we beat ourselves up when things aren’t perfect or that we have to put five course meals on the table each night (or any night). We simply need to find and share beauty and peace in our day to day and make the most of whatever we have be that a piping hot homemade meal, chicken nuggets or trays of snacks.

“Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” Mark 6:31

I think it is comforting to remember that even Jesus and the apostles went through busy times when they felt like they didn’t have time to eat and that Jesus took them off to a quiet place to rest. We need to make our times in our homes that quiet in the midst of the busyness of life.  This week I’d like us to take these two action steps and share with us in the comments what you are trying:

  • What single step can you take right now to reduce stress or make schedule more meaningful?
  • Make a list of  simple ways you can create spaces of peace and beauty in your life.

I’d also like to leave you with a bit of practical help, if you are looking for recipes for cookies that can be frozen, ideas for meal planning, cake mixes you can make and keep in the pantry, or other ideas for your kitchen check out our Homeschool in the Kitchen page. We are adding links and ideas each week to make that a great resource for our kitchen.

Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List. These are great ways to help plan and prepare for some simple holiday fun!

When you sign up for our 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. 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.

Schoolhouse Teachers has a great Flash Sale going on right now! This is HUGE.. This sale is a $139 BOGO! Buy one year, get one year free – so essentially, $69.50 per year! That is less than a $100 per year for curriculum for your whole household. This deal is only good through Nov. 17th so act fast!

A New Nation: Week 1

We started the study of the New Nation with a few videos including Schoolhouse Rocks and a couple episodes at the end of Liberty’s Kids. Liberty’s Kids was about how George Washington refused to become a king which is such an important part of how our country was created. Schoolhouse Rocks has some catchy tunes about our constitution and how a bill becomes a law which help children remember important facts about the way our government operates. We are going to review the bill of rights with next week with this free worksheet where they will illustrate each of the rights.

I read, We the People, by Lynn Cheney as one of our read alouds this week. It does a great job of going through the basic information about problems with the Articles of Confederation and the transition to the Constitution. The pictures are beautifully done and each page has a quote from someone there at the time of the writing of the Constitution.

we the people

Matthew is reading the book Six Frigates and seems to be enjoying it so far. It is a longer book and so he is reading it over the course of a couple of weeks. He decided that he wants to do a Lego replica of the battle at Ft McHenry for his project this  month. He also plans to look at the rations for the War of 1812 and cook up a meal one day in the next couple of weeks. To help him with his project we are going to spend a bit of time next week looking over the pictures and videos on the National Parks Website about Ft. McHenry.

Elizabeth is going to complete the American Heritage Girls (AHG), Our Heritage badge, for her project this month. She loves that she can combine her history with her AHG work. She will be cooking pumpkin pancakes this week from a historical receipt (the term for recipe during this time period) as well as volunteering at a school event  teaching children about games of the time period. She is also reading Little House by Boston Bay to get an idea of life during the War of 1812 from the prospective of a young girl.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial through New Nation resources are currently posted and the Westward Expansion resources should be posted by the end of the week.

When you sign up for our 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. 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.

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Schoolhouse Teachers has a great Flash Sale going on right now! This is HUGE.. This sale is a $139 BOGO! Buy one year, get one year free – so essentially, $69.50 per year! That is less than a $100 per year for curriculum for your whole household. This deal is only good through Nov. 17th so act fast!

 

Thankful-for-Art-Pumpkin-Day-1-400x266

This week ‘You Are An Artist’ is doing a fun free art lesson each day! Today they are doing this great pumpkin lesson.  Check our facebook page each day for a link to the lesson of the day.

Homeschooling in December (Resources and Freebies)

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I know you are thinking that its only beginning of November but if your house is anything like mine December will be here in the blink of an eye. A little forethought and planning now can make December a more peaceful and joyous month in your homeschool.

Our first year homeschooling I had big plans for December. We were going to do all of our regular school plus tons of great holiday themed activities that I found to go along with the season. By the time Christmas arrived I was burned out, stressed out, and feeling way behind. It has taken several years to work out a plan that works for us, but one thing I learned quickly is that those holiday activities need to replace the other things rather than supplement. December is typically a busy time of year for families already and so adding even more to an already full plate is a recipe for problems.

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I started out with some of the easy subjects to switch out for holiday themes. First, we switch out our copywork and focus on Christmas and nativity themed verses or passages. Hymn study is another easy and powerful switch that can be made. There are so many great Christmas hymns. Not Consumed Hymn Studies is a great place to start if you are looking for easy to use ready made plans. She has some great plans Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as bundles including other hymn studies. They are very well done.

Our read aloud and novel studies were another place where we could easily switch out ‘regular’ schoolwork for holiday themed work. There are so many good books. Some years I have a basketful and we just pick one when we are ready to read and some years I’ve wrapped them up and let them pick one and open it each day that we have time to read aloud. We have done novel studies independently and together as a family. I’ve included a list of books we have really enjoyed below to get you started on your basket.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas was a book recommended to me by a friend of mine. She wrote this blog post that explains more about the book. We have used it as a part of our Bible and devotional time and found it to be simple but meaningful.

Art is another one that can be an easy switch, many years I have found various Christmas crafts, made Christmas cards, and gifts during our art time. This year we are looking at using these Christmas Chalk Pastel Art Lessons to supplement our art since the children love the pastel lessons. If you have never tired these lessons be sure to check out the free Christmas Star lesson. I’m sure I’ll throw in a few crafts as well because we all enjoy spending that time together.

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This year we will continue with our normal math lessons for most of December since we are using a more formal curriculum. However when the children were younger and I was creating the curriculum I used December to review and brush up on skills using fun Christmas and winter themed activities. We also did fractions and other math in connection with our holiday baking. This was a great way to make math fun and memorable. I may still pull one or two fun Christmas themed math activities as a review, like this fun decimal freebie.

Writing is another great area to bring in Christmas. Whether it is a natural assignment like writing Christmas cards or thank you letters or a fun printable like this Christmas story writing printable or Christmas memory journal prompts from Write Shop.  As part of the Lightem’ up activities that I talk about below we also often write letters of encouragement or appreciation to others during this time. If you are traveling during the holidays a travel journal can be a great way to save those memories and get in a little writing practice at the same time.

Music is another great way to incorporate the holidays into your homeschool. We listen to a variety of music while we work and will be switching most of that over to Christmas music during December. We have a collection of CDs with Christmas music, you can also find music on Youtube or if you don’t like the ads on Youtube Amazon Prime Music Unlimited may be a good fit and they have a free 30 day trial. We also look at the composer that we are studying to see if they composed any Christmas music. For example, last year we were studying Handel so we naturally listened to and studied The Messiah.

Another activity that ranks high on our list, Lightem’ Up, doesn’t actually take the place of anything but is something our whole family enjoys and that we make sure to work into our calendars ahead of time. Some of these activities can take hours and some just a few seconds as you go through your day. We pick out a list of those we want to try to do each year and get together any supplies in November so that implementing them in December is as simply as we can make it. This is a great list of ways that we can bring cheer and happiness to other people during this season. While certainly not an exhaustive list, it is a great resource for finding fun and easy ways our family can serve others.

I can’t leave Legos off the list. My older two children love Legos and Proverbial Homemaker has these great challenges for them to do small Lego projects each day including a great Christmas Challenge.

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My three year old loves to ‘do school’ with us and needs plenty to keep his attention occupied when I’m working with the older two. I will of course be reading many good Christmas picture books, he loves singing with us, and anything crafty. However, for those times when I need him to play quietly I love the Little People Nativity. We have one at home and one in my preschool classroom at church. They are a great way

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for children to be able to play with the decorations without fear of breaking them and learn about the Jesus’s birth in a hands-on way. We also enjoy using pattern blocks to work on fine motor skills and these free Christmas templates are a great addition this time of year.

No matter how much you want to switch out or what you want to accomplish I think it is important to have a plan. You can write it out on paper or print out one of the many free holiday planner’s available, like the one over at Proverbial Homemaker (in her freebie section). Whatever method works for your family, having that plan can take a lot of the stress out of this busy season. I also highly suggest talking as a family to work out at least part of the plan. Find out what is important to you children so that you incorporate at least some of what everyone is hoping to do and don’t spend time on things that no one thinks are important.

In addition to switching things out so we are not overwhelmed I find it important to remember that it is good to take some time off and enjoy the holidays. We take several weeks off so that we can focus on Christ and on family and friends. The 12 days of Christmas used to be celebrated starting on December 25th. This means that when I get to Christmas and feel frustrated that we didn’t get a chance to make the gingerbread house or do some other fun activity we had planned, I still have almost two weeks to fit it in.

I pray that you will find peace and joy in your life and your homeschool this year. I hope that these tips and resources can bless your family. If you have other ideas I’d love to have you share them in the comments.

Book List:

The Very First Christmas

Legend of the Candy Cane

Little Drummer Boy

One Baby Jesus (Board Book)

One Wintry Night

Night of Las Posadas

Legend of the Poinsettia

Christmas Carols

The Night Before Christmas ( My husband reads this aloud to our children each year.)

The Best Christmas Pagent Ever

The Jolly Christmas Postman

An Otis Christmas ( I have not read this one, but my son loves the other books in this series and I’m purchasing it for this year. )

Tale of Three Trees (the story from Christmas to Easter)

Kindle Books (free or cheap):

If you do not have a kindle you can download the app for free and read the books on your computer or other device.

A Christmas Carol

Berenstain Bears Very First Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Itsy Bitsy Christmas ( I haven’t read this one yet but I love Max Lucado’s other books and its a great price. I think I”m going to add it to our list this year. )

Hymn Study Resources:

Not Consumed Hymn Studies (You can purchase a set with several holidays or the Christmas one.)

Christmas Carol and Hymn Study

Hymn Studies for Each Month (December has some great Christmas ones)

 

Copywork:

Winter and Christmas Copywork

Christmas Scripture Copywork

Christmas Carol Copywork

Christmas Quotes for Copywork

Christmas Carol and Hymn Copywork

Math Ideas:

Free Christmas Math Worksheets

Christmas Math Games with Dice

Christmas Cut and Paste Math

Christmas Math Word Problems

Christmas Advent Math Problems Grades 6-12

Advent Math (Primary)

Extras:

Christmas Science Ideas

Cultures and Geography

Christmas History

Audio Books or Stories:

Cinnamon Bear (These have become a favorite in our house and we listen to at least some of them every year. You can purchase them, use an Audible Credit, or if you are not a member click here first and get a free one month trial which will include 2 free audio books. )

Familyman Christmas Treasury

The Friendly Beast

March Sister Christmas (excerpts from Little Women)

Best Christmas Pagent Ever

Movies:

Charlie Brown’s Christmas

If You Give A Mouse A Christmas Cookie (free with Amazon Prime, if you don’t have Amazon Prime you can get a free trial here and enjoy lots of free movies and the free shipping during this busy season.

Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List. These are great ways to help plan and prepare for some simple holiday fun!

 

 

When you sign up for our 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. 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

Need a good way to organize all of these great printables and have access to them when you need them? Try a free Dropbox Plan.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Apologia is running a free shipping special and other sales throughout the month. Today is the last day of the language arts, geography and history sale. Tomorrow starts a sale on encouragement books.

Schoolhouse Teachers has a great Flash Sale going on right now! This is HUGE.. This sale is a $139 BOGO! Buy one year, get one year free – so essentially, $69.50 per year! That is less than a $100 per year for curriculum for your whole household. This deal is only good through Nov. 17th so act fast!

The Green Ember is only $2.99 on Kindle or Free with a KindleUnlimited Trial

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Free gratitude journal: https://writeshop.com/free-gift/ref/dawnpeluso/

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering a great deal on Discovery Education Streaming right now. 60% off and bonus Smart Points redeemable for other products. We have used this in the past and enjoyed it.

Two Free Audio Books with an Audible Trial and if you aren’t sure what to start with I’d suggest checking out the Green Ember or The Penderwicks for good family choices.

Lifegiving Home: Chapter 7

Fun and Feasting!

33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”

34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”  Luke 5:33-35 New International Version

While I think it is important for us to live life with eternity in mind, I love this reminder that part of glorifying God is enjoying those pleasures that he created for us. God created beauty and fun, food and drink, and all of life’s pleasures for us to enjoy with-in the boundaries that he set forth. I know people on both ends of the spectrum, those that seem to never enjoy anything and are always serious and somber and those that live ‘in the moment’ to such an extent that they neglect many important things in life. I think what Sally is expressing in this chapter is neither of those things but a balance of recognizing that part of life is fun and enjoyment. We can laugh and have fun while still glorifying God.

” Discipleship happens through relationships that are cultivated by listening to the needs of the moment and moving to meet those needs—even when those needs involve laughing and having fun. ” (pg. 107)

In years of serving God in a variety of roles both here and in Mexico, I found that before we could effectively minister to people we had to build some kind of relationship or meet their other needs. Sometimes that meant holding medical clinics and caring for the sick, but other times it meant bringing a soccer ball and playing with children or making crafts with them. I can tell with my own children that they are more receptive to the bigger ideals and goals when I’m also meeting their need for activity and fun or time alone with me. I have to study my children and know what they need so that I can fill their cups. Once we have that, then they are more open to the deeper things. For my daughter this means baking cookies, having tea or going out and doing a little ‘window shopping’. These things help meet her needs and leave her open to deeper conversations. My son would rather play Legos, ride bikes, or spend time playing outside. Those times aren’t wasted time, they are precious valuable times of relationship building.

 

” When you have toddlers, five minutes at the dinner table without someone drooping food or wailing over the fact they don’t like peas is a sought-after dream. A discipleship that cannot make room for the ordinary is unrealistic. ” (109)

This quote so describes some of our days. Now that two of my children are older it is better but I still have a 3 year old and a baby on the way so some days I’m still in the thick of this. I think it is important that we keep trying because little by little they start to learn. As we try, we can’t beat ourselves up when things don’t look perfect. Toddlers (at least all the ones I know) aren’t going to sit quiet and still at the table for a long theological discussion. However, we keep working and training and having family conversations so that they begin to understand what our family table looks like. For some of you right now getting in a prayer before meal time and not having any melt downs at the table is an accomplishment and that is ok. You are still loving and teaching and growing your children. As my children grow older, even though some days I’m still in the thick of it all, I can see the growth and how those times of training are paying off in relationships and table talk. Now we can often have long conversations about school or life or discipleship with the older two asking questions while we eat and fellowship (especially if I excuse the three year old once he is done eating to play quietly with a toy or make a point to let him talk about something he wants to say even if it doesn’t relate to the topic at hand.) So if you are in the period of younger children or other challenges, don’t give up. It really will pay off and be worth it in the end.

I hope that you take time this week to try Sally’s suggestion of taking 15 minutes to do something you enjoy and stop the cycle of busyness. It is so easy to feel compelled to do more and more (and sometimes those things are necessary) but even a small break can be refreshing. Tell me in the comments what you can do this week for just 15 minutes to enjoy that time and break the cycle.

I’m also looking forward to trying the Clarkson Snowballs (Russian Tea Cakes) recipe at the end of that chapter. They look easy and tasty. I think it will be fun to make them with my daughter. I just have to remember to get some pecans so that we have all the ingredients.

Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List.

When you sign up for our 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. 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.

Revolutionary War Wrap Up

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There is so much to learn from the Revolutionary War and so many interesting stories to tell that I think you could spend an entire year focused on that one war. However, we wrapped up our month long study of the war last week so that we can move on to other important parts of American history.  We will continue to learn about Revolutionary history through events, books, and conversations but our focus will be turning to the new nation and how our government works.

The children enjoyed several chapters from America’s Story Volume 1 this past week. The story format keeps them begging for me to read more and I find them looking back over it during their free time.  I love that it isn’t a dry list of dates and events but a collection of stories that told about the war. Occasionally the timeline gets a little jumbled with this style, as it makes sense to cover campaigns or theaters sequentially, even if significant events were happening geographically elsewhere.

Matthew did an excellent presentation on rations from the Revolutionary War including a poster, some modern day examples, and a speech. This was a topic that I would not have thought to do too deeply into but he was so interested that he enjoyed studying about it and recreating them as best he could given modern ingredients and cooking. I expect that he will enjoy seeing how rations changes as we study other wars in our American history.

In art this week we did the Paul Revere Drawing from You Are an Artist.  This was his hat and lantern that are symbolic of his famous ride. The children enjoyed the lesson and it tied in well to Elizabeth’s presentation which was about Rachel Revere, Paul’s wife.  There are many people from this time that we hear all about and I thought it was great for Elizabeth to do a little reading and research into someone that is not as much a familiar name. While she used several different resources for her presentation the bulk of her information came from What Really Happened in Colonial Times which included a chapter on Rachel Revere.

I used If you Lived at the Time of the American Revolution for a read aloud this week. I love how this book talks about the different experiences from the perspective of Loyalists and Patriots. The book goes into multiple aspects of daily life during that time including schooling, food, clothing, etc.  It is broken into small sections so it was easy for us to read it a few minutes at a time between other tasks.

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The American Revolution is probably one of our favorite times in history and we have enjoyed this month long study.  I hope that my children took away a better understanding of the courage and perseverance of them men and women who worked together for independence. Tell us in the comments what you or your children enjoyed most about this era in history?

When you sign up for our 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. 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.

Thanksgiving Resources Round Up

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I love celebrating Thanksgiving. It is a refreshing reminder that we should be thankful everyday for the many blessings that God has given us. For our family it tends to be a less busy and hectic time of year than Christmas and is easier to relax and enjoy. We are doing gratitude journals for our writing this month as well as a few other thankful activities around the dinner table. We are also studying the Native Americans as part of our history this month.  We are skipping a formal study of the pilgrims as we covered this in history in September but there are other years when we take a week or two and focus on that part of history.

I’ve created this list of free and inexpensive resources for Thanksgiving to help you study and enjoy Thanksgiving in your homeschool.  Some of these resources talk about the history of Thanksgiving, some focus on gratitude and thanks, others talk about Thanksgiving through history, and a few more are fun activities featuring popular Thanksgiving items like turkeys. They can be used during your school day, in the car if you need to travel, or as a family. I pray that they are a blessing to you during this season.

Thanksgiving Lessons and Activities

Not Consumed Hymn Studies (You can purchase a set with several holidays or the Thanksgiving one.)

More Hymn Studies (These are more basic than the ones at Not Consumed but they are free.)

Free Thanksgiving Lego Brick Challenge

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Proverbial Homemaker also has a great printable Thanksgiving Calendar and writing prompts as well as a devotional. Just click on her Freebies link.

Thanksgiving In History (Thanksgiving during the WWI and WWII time period)

Thanksgiving Unit Study

Thanksgiving Sudoku Puzzles

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart Card Set

Give Thanks Tree

Thanksgiving Placemats

Thanksgiving Easy Reader

Mayflower Craft

Thanksgiving Unit Study

Thanksgiving Bible Printables

Free Pumpkin Art Tutorial (There is also a full set you can purchase including a turkey.)

Thanksgiving Books

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

The Pilgrims First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving on Thursday

Pilgrims Fact Tracker (Magic Tree House Research Guide)

Tapenum’s Day, A Wampanoag Indian Boy

Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy

Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl

Cranberry Thanksgiving (This one we found through Five in a Row but it has become a family favorite.)

 

Our Hiking Adventures

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Our family really enjoys hiking. We have found it to be healthy, educational, stress relieving, and lots of fun. We have been truly blessed that in addition to our family hikes we have a great group of homeschooling friends that hike with us twice a month. We choose different trails from a rotation of about ten local trails for a hike and whomever is available meets up. Sometimes we just walk and the children play and talk, sometimes we do scavenger hunts, bark rubbings, or other activities, and recently we have begun adding in a few ranger guided hikes at local state parks.

I want my children to enjoy and appreciate nature and I have found that the more time we spend in nature the more they enjoy it. I work to balance times where we are actively learning and engaged in an activity with times where they are just playing and enjoying nature. The physical activity tends to increase on those hikes where we just let them play. In places where it is appropriate (some trails and parks have rules about staying on the trail and we obey those), they often find logs to balance and walk on, creeks to splash in, rocks to ‘climb’ and even one log that works like a giant see-saw. They think they are just having fun (which is important) but they are also working those gross motor skills. If you are interested in the research into the importance of time in nature, I recommend Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv.

When we want to do a more learning centered hike we have a variety of options to choose from. Sometimes we simply take one of our field guides and choose to try to identify as many items as we can, picking from flowers, trees, mammals, insects, etc. Other times, they bring their nature journals and simply choose to draw and write about something they find interesting.  Our science studies from Apologia often have ideas for nature study or projects we can do as well. We may take a guided hike where the ranger or other expert discusses specific aspects of what we are seeing on the trail.  We have taken pencils and paper and done bark rubbings for tree identification or collected leaves to preserve in their nature journals.

 

I have included a simple fall printable scavenger hunt, including things to collect (please remember to only collect on trails that allow for leaf collection, etc), do, and find in our free resource library.  This is a great way to get started using your hikes as a nature study. Sign up for access to all of our free resources at the link at the bottom of the post.

There are a few common reasons that people are concerned about hiking that I’d like to address.  One of the most common that I hear is that people don’t feel that they are physically fit enough to hike. However, barring physical conditions or problems that you may need to speak to your doctor about most people can hike. You may need to start out on easier trails and shorter distances. You can take a quarter mile loop on an even gravel trail and work your way up to longer trails or more difficult terrain.

Another common one is a question about how well small children will do on hikes. I have found that there are several solutions to this depending on the child and the trail and that most small children get a lot from the experience of hiking. For babies, baby wearing is a great option and how I normally choose to hike with little ones.  A good wrap or soft structured carrier like an Ergo  can allow mom and baby a safe and comfortable hike. Some folks prefer a stroller and on some trails this is a great way to hike. You do have to make sure that the trail is stroller friendly but there are many trails that utilize gravel or boardwalks that can be great options for strollers. If the child is walking and moving but still very young you can wither choose shorter hikes or a combination of them walking and then when they get tired using a carrier or stroller.

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Not my best picture, but a great example of hiking and baby wearing.

As a part of our hiking and traveling the area, our group has found another wonderful benefit to hiking: cupcakes! I know you are probably thinking how do cupcakes relate to hiking?  We enjoy the exercise and time outside and then near several of our trails we have found wonderful, delicious bakeries to get fun sweet treats after our hike and continue the conversations and good times. If you are local or semi-local two of our favorite stops are Rachel K’s Bakery in Washington, NC and HappyCakes in Morehead City, NC.  We enjoy our trips as times of nature study, exercise, and fellowship!

I hope that you are inspired to go outside, hike, and enjoy nature. If you are looking for trails in your area try your local government site for municipal and county parks, your state parks (these are great for guided group hikes and extra activities) or our National Park Service. Whether you go with just your family or a group of friends there is much to learn and great deal of fun waiting on the trail. What do you like most about hiking or what concerns do you have about getting started? Share in the comments.

Educational Tools for Your Hiking Packs

Emergency Supplies for Your Hiking Packs

What you would want to take will obviously depend on where you are and what type of hike you are taking. You won’t need the same things for a .5 mile loop on a paved trail that you would for a 10 mile hike in new territory. I do recommend always taking water, insect repellent (or applying before you leave) and a small first aid kit with an emergency blanket.

When you sign up for our 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. 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’s Deals and Freebies

Apologia is running a free shipping special and other sales throughout the month.

Diabetes Quick Study Freebie

Give Your Child The World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time (On sale for $2.99 at time of posting, Amazon can change prices at any time.)

The Green Ember is only $2.99 on Kindle or Free with a KindleUnlimited Trial

Check out the new Bible art course and  from You Are an Artist. They have a Christmas set that is new and on sale right now.

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Free gratitude journal: https://writeshop.com/free-gift/ref/dawnpeluso/

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering a great deal on Discovery Education Streaming right now. 60% off and bonus Smart Points redeemable for other products. We have used this in the past and enjoyed it.

Two Free Audio Books with an Audible Trial and if you aren’t sure what to start with I’d suggest checking out the Green Ember or The Penderwicks for good family choices.

Check out this fun idea for using Salt Trays for Writing Practice: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/salt-trays/…
These are from All About Learning who created the Awesome spelling program that was a game changer for us, All About Spelling (https://www.allaboutlearningpress.net/go.php?id=1468)

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

 

The Lifegiving Table: Chapter 6

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“We must be intentional to guide, discuss, and celebrate the dependable rhythms of life.” Sally Clarkson (Pg. 87)

Her discussion of Sunday mornings being a time where we feel, “rushed, urgent, and -dare we admit it?- a slight bit annoyed.” really hit home for me. We have spent more Sunday mornings than I care to think about rushing everyone out the door, fussing because we couldn’t find shoes, someone’s hair wasn’t brushed, and we were going to be late. This sets a bad tone for our day and our time of worship. We have been working on doing things to intentionally plan and prepare to make Sunday smoother. We now meal plan for Sunday (and the rest of the week but for a long time I only planned Monday through Friday). I’m working on a creating a list of breakfasts that I can either prepare ahead or are simple to prepare on Sunday morning but can still feel like a feast. We also are trying to be more intentional about getting clothes ready, lessons printed, etc on Saturday evening to reduce Sunday morning stress.

“But I strongly believe that we need traditions like these because they give us necessary anchors in our lives — our days and weeks and months and years.  Anchors are the moments when, no matter what, you stop, breathe, enjoy, rest, and check in with the Lord.” (pg. 90)

I want my children to love the Lord and to serve them all of their lives. While going to church is part of what we do as a family, I don’t want them to see it as a chore that must be checked off the list. I want them to go because they love worshiping the Lord and serving Him. I am thankful that unlike some of the congregations that she described in this chapter, our church is not a sober and sad place. It is a place of worship and joy. My son had a low grade fever a couple of weeks ago and had to stay home with my husband while I took the older children to church and taught the preschool class. I hated that he was sick but it also did my heart good to see that he was genuinely sad that he couldn’t go to church. He is only three and does not understand everything at church but he knows it is a place where he gets to sing, praise and learn about God.

“When we model to our children that pleasure, delight, laughter, and food are not God’s afterthoughts, but His generous gifts to us all, we do them a great favor. For the good of our souls and the souls of our children, we must learn to celebrate the glory of God.” (pg. 92)

While God is just and hates sin, he is also loving and kind. He wants us to enjoy his creation and have lives filled with joy and beauty.  I want my children to see all of the gifts and blessing of the Lord. The flowers in the field and on the table, the yummy and nutritious food that He provides (we could be eating manna every day but instead he has given us a wonderful bounty), the warm home we live in, the sun rise each morning, and the sunset each evening are all blessings for a loving God.

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Once when I was working with a children’s program in Mexico I was blessed to be able to be a part of getting them a donation or art supplies for the children to use. When the gifts were given to the children they were not told they were from other people, but that they were gifts from God. I loved the truth and beauty of that lesson. While it is true that people donated the money for those supplies, they donated it in the name of the Lord and they had been blessed by the Lord with those resources to give. The goal of those missionaries was for the children to understand that all good things come from the Lord. I pray that I also teach my children the same lesson. We need to be thankful to Him for everything.

Sally spends the next part of the chapter discussing their Sunday morning conversations. I love the concept of setting aside that time for learning and discussing what they were learning about the Lord. As I look at our own family and stage of life, I think that set aside time and conversation may work better at our Sunday lunch table. To some extent, we are already doing this in that we normally discuss what each person learned or took away from the church service that morning. Lunch is a more relaxed time for us and gives us more opportunity for discussion. She says, “I saw these Sunday morning conversations not just as a duty to be fulfilled, but as an important opportunity for my children”. When I approach things as a duty, I can begin to resent them or grow weary. However, by looking at it as an opportunity is is easier to be grateful for the chance and more excited about making it an anchor or routine in our lives.

She finished the chapter talking about how sometime we shy away from the difficult conversations that come as our children grow older. They often begin to question what they believe and what they are taught. However, instead of shying away from these conversations it is important that we prepare for them and engage in those conversations. Those conversations are one of the ways that our children will come to have a faith that is their own, it is through these struggles that they will grow and learn. Jesus spent time answering his disciples hard questions and preparing them for what was to come. It is our responsibility to do the same for our children.

“And I can say with thorough enthusiasm that each flipped pancake was worth it.” (pg. 97) I hope that when my children reach adulthood, I can look back and know that I spent the time necessary to help them to learn and grow in their relationship with the Lord, that I may know that those ‘mundane tasks’ were worth it and valuable in their lives and the Kingdom of God. I’d love to hear your thoughts on chapter six or your favorite Sunday morning breakfast ideas in the comments.

If you haven’t got your copy of the book, check it out here. Also there is a great study guide that goes deeper into scripture related to the life-giving table. Finally, if life is busy right now ans you are having trouble keeping up you might want to check out the audio book on Audible. If you have not tried Audible before you can get a 30 day free trial which includes 2 free books that are yours to keep even if you cancel the trial.

When you sign up for our 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. 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.