Category Archives: Curriculum

Snow Sensory Discovery Bin

We have been observing our winter weather and landscape here in mountains of North Carolina.  Though most of our observations have been outside, our recent snow fall has provided us with some fun indoor winter sensory activities.

Just look at those faces.  Can’t you just feel their anticipation?

They are so excited that we are building this winter snow bin. 

It is a sensory discovery bin filled with props for a winter wonderland adventure on top, and hidden treasures to find down below. 

How COOL!   (pun intended)

I was laying in bed last night thinking about how I could build the kids a winter discovery bin with cotton balls and such, and decided why don’t I just bring the snow into the house.  There is so much we can study and learn from our snow “school work”. 

Yeah, its a little cold on the fingers, but again, we are talking about sensory folks.  Snow = cold, wet, messy, very messy.  And did I mention cold?  But not too cold, as my daughter enjoyed playing in this snow bin in her summer shorts!

So I searched the toys and crafts and dumped out a deep storage bin and here is what I came up with.

Into a plastic bin/box we put glass square and round beads/rocks in shades of blue, aqua, and clear.  This kind of represented frozen water iceberg under the snow.   Then we added some plastic snow men, penguins, bears, deer, plastic rocks, etc.   Disclaimer: The stuffed animals were not harmed during the filming of this and were not added to the bin.  Hee Hee Hee Haw!!!!

On top of this we added lots of snow.  Then made a winter scene with some plastic pine trees, deer, plastic rocks and real rocks, plastic bushes, snowmen, penguins, and a hunter.

Didn’t my 2nd grader do an awesome job helping set this up?  He is a great assistant!

On the kitchen floor, we laid out a blanket and set the snow bin on it.   Here the kids could play in their winter wonderland with all the props, and I didn’t have to worry about the mess.

Then we created a story to enjoy our winter scene.  They imagined “the deer were looking for something to eat, when a hunter came along and found them in the woods.  The deer climbed the rocks and up the mountain to safety behind a high pine tree way up on a cliff.  Then the hunter went looking for more animals and came upon a great big mammoth.  But he knew not to kill the mammoth, so he let him go.  The hunter was bored, and made a snowman, and then sat down and ate some snow soup with his animal friends.”

After their fun on the first level they were ready to go to work hunting for buried treasures in the iceberg.   (Yeah, I know, we should have buried the mammoth in the melting iceberg for a discussion on fossils, extinction, and global warming, but he has some electronic gizmo inside and we couldn’t let him get very wet.  Plus that is more of a discussion for the older kids.  So the mammoth stayed dry and alive on top of the snow).

I gave them some measuring scoops, recycled plastic fruit cups, and a large bowl,  and they went to work.

If you could call it work.  They laughed and giggled all the way through until the last object was found.

When they were done with their sensory bin, the older boys wanted to play in it too.  Some activities with them included more imaginative play, but also measuring and counting scoops of snow and talking about compaction, melting, temperature, and more.  

So we put in more snow and animals and recreated the hunting scene for them.  This time the deer wasn’t so lucky to escape the wise hunter who had learned from his earlier mistakes.  He ate dinner that night and went to bed with a full stomache.  Made jerky with the leftovers.  Hee Hee Hee Haw!  Snort!  Ha ha ha!  Ok sorry about that, but kids are just so funny! 

The kids all had a really good time.

Finally, our kindergartner took advantage of the used, melting, sloshy snow bin, and built a snowman.

He packed the melting snow into snow balls, and used broken crayons for the eyes and nose.  He put craft sticks in for the arms and stuck on some yellow buttons.   He used the hunters hat for the snowman’s hat.  He said the hunter had forgot his hat when he took off chasing the deer.    

When he was done playing with it, he stuck the snowman outside on the front porch.  It stayed frozen just like the day he made it for three days.  He enjoyed checking on it to see how long it took to melt.

He did a great job!

Clean up was much easier than I thought.  The blanket went into the dryer for a few minutes.  The toys in the bowl, and the bin, dried on a towel for a little bit before being put away for next time. 

Easy, fun, learning adventure, and free!

How are your kids exploring the winter?  Do your kids enjoy using sensory and discovery bins?  Please leave us a comment below and share what you are working on with your kids.

This post will be linked up with
ABC 123

No Time For Flash Cards

Tot School

Preschool and 5K too

Play Academy

We Play

Best Toys For Toddlers


Please share.

Curriculum Plan 2010-2011

                        HOW DO YOU HOMESCHOOL?

This article is about how our family homeschools.  Each family is different, and there are a million or more ways and combinations to accomplish this.  But this is our story.  I hope you will find it helpful. 


We are in our 5th year of homeschooling.  Before homeschooling our own children, we had foster children in the public school system, both elementary and highschool.  Also both my husband and myself attended public school.  For various reasons, we knew that was not the direction we wanted for our family’s education.   If the foster care system had allowed us to homeschool back then, we sure would have.

The plan this year is to continue using an Eclectic approach to our homeschool learning for 2010-2011.  We are schooling grades 4th, 2nd, K, pre-K, and a Tot this year.

There are so many great things about so many “methods” (and some not so great things too), that I just have not completely “sold out” to a specific method.   

More than anything, I want to raise children who are healthy, stable, confident,  sensible-common sense, faith that moves mountains, servants of God.  Curriculum is secondary to this.

I want a happy home filled with love, respect, charity, and a bond that cannot be broken.  We were created to bring glory to God.  If my homeschooling approach does not encourage the development of this in my children’s lives, I will have failed.

I plan to continue to use several great pieces & parts” 
from these
homeschooling methods using the resources I have listed below.

Charlotte Mason
Unit Study

Our Day

We generally school with bible, games, story books, unit studies, and some workbooks, from 8:00 am to 12pm.  We do some afternoons if we have science experiments, crafts, or cooking in our unit studies.  Most of our field trips are every Saturday, and this way we get to include Dad and be together as a family for these outings.  Though we will do field trips during the week as they arise, and if they fit into our budget.  We are flexible, and this schedule is “subject to change” with or without notice. 

We homeschool in the dining room at the kitchen table, at the kitchen counters, on a a computer in the dining room, in the living room, in a bedroom that holds most of our materials and another computer, we watch educational programs in the living room, and we also school on the front porch, in the back yard, at the picnic tables in the park, on nature trails, and where ever else it suits us.  In North Carolina, we are expected to keep records of attendance and do annual nationally standardized testing and keep these on file for one year.  Our children have done very well on these tests, despite any “methods” we may or may not use.

Our day for grades K, 2, and 4th typically looks similar to this:
8:00 Bible (read, journal, pray, sing)
8:30 Calender
8:45 Math
9:15 Activity or Game 
9:45 Music
10:15 Break and Snack
10:45 Language Arts or Unit Study
11:30 History-Geography or Unit Study
12:00 Break for lunch
12:30 Clean up
1:00 Optional Activity: cooking, science experiment, crafts,
2:00 Free time, read books, play games, play outside, legos, computer, etc.

Our day for grades pre-K, and tot school typically looks similar to this:
8:00 Bible
8:30 Calendar
8:45 Letter Of The Week, Tot School Learning Activities, Manipulatives
9:45 Music
10:15 Break and Snack
10:45 Sensory Activity & more Manipulatives
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Crafts, Play, Stories, etc.
Naps and quiet time in the afternoon.
Color or craft during bible lesson and unit study to help them sit quietly and listen with the older children.


We have a huge home library and resource room.  One bedroom is lined with bookshelves and filled with lots of resources. 

There are literally thousands of options out there when it comes to curriculum.  Some of them are great.  None of them are perfect!  But all of them can be modified to fit your family’s needs.  Just be flexible, and think outside the box. 

Some families never open a workbook, and their children are learning and bright. Some families only use workbooks and their children are learning and bright.  Some families use a variety of workbooks and other resources and their children are learning and bright too.  Just remember you can modify what ever you have access to, and make it work for your family. 

Here are pictures of my storage room shelving units.  The unit studies I have made are on the top shelves in binders.  Unit studies I buy are further down on the shelves.  If we are using a big unit study with science kits and crafts, I dedicate a whole shelf for it.  Here you can see the airplane unit we are doing.  It is huge with lots of resources, books, art kits, science kits, model airplanes, etc.  Further down on the shelves I have my manuals and books I pull stuff from.

I have several teachers manuals (Math, Language Arts, Bible, History, Geography, Science) for grades prek-6th grade.  I also have unit studies, history books, language books, science books, music, spanish, sign language, art, and more that I pull stuff from.   I may have three to ten book on a given subject so I organized these shelves with sections of related items: Music, Foreign Language, Math, Science, History, Geography, Art Manuals, Bible
Study, Language Arts, etc.   

Several shelves are filled with art supplies, science kits, games, manipulatives, puzzles, unit studies, workbooks, and more.  Here are some pictures.

Math manipulatives (several kinds), legos, erector sets, living math books, k’nect sets, lincon logs, duplo legos, dominos, magnets sets, marble runs, etc. 

Science kits:  Earth Science, Life Science, Chemistry Lab, Solar System, and more.  I definitely believe in exploring through science.  I found many of these at used curriculum sales and eBay and most were still new.  But you can get just about all of them new on Amazon.  You can read about some of these great finds and the sales in this article I wrote here and more here and more here .

The CLOSET with art supplies, recycled materials for crafts, more science kits, felt stories, mom’s filefolder system for unit study ideas and learning plans, and extra folding table to pull out when we need too.

Technology: computers, robots, design programs, video technology, cameras, video game system, Leapster hand held games, and smart phones with applications.  They are way better at all of it than me.

Thoughts On Resources


First of all, you can homeschool “almost” for free.  There are several websites that give you resources to do this.  We have used some of these ideas.  There are so many things you can do for free, nature walks, some museums, online learning, and so on.   We incorporate this as much as we can, but this wasn’t the way chose to homeschool for our family. 

Second, you can spend a TON of money buying curriculum, supplies, going on outings, memberships to clubs, co-op classes, music lessons, sports lessons, and so on.  We do some of these things, but can’t do a lot of it, living on one income and caring for seven people in our household. 

Here are some examples of costs we factor in:

Music lessons can easily run $30 to $40 each.  I have yet to figure out how to afford them.  Here is another example, one homeschool coop wants $80 per kid per class plus registration fees.  Ouch!   Another less expensive coop charges a membership fee and $10 per kid per class.  These classes are one morning a week.  ($20 membership + (10×5=50x3x2)classes = $320 plus class materials).  Several tickets for local outings run $5 to $20 per kid. So you could instantly drop $100 for tickets plus food and gas. 

So we even though we really want too, we just can’t do all the stuff that is offered.  We have to be very careful and choosy as there just insn’t enough money for all these things.

Third, homeschooling can fit any budget.   Even if you can’t afford outside classes, and a lot of outings, you can still make it work.  You just have to tweak your budget to make homeschooling and locating resources work for you.  How much you spend is up to you.  There have been years where I spent $200 and years where I spent over $1,000.  When you factor in gas for field trips, tickets, memberships, classes, and all the craft supplies in addition to curriculum, it can add up fast.  The resources I have, have taken a long time to put together and I will be tweaking it until all my kids have graduated.  It is a process.


I buy curriculum on sale and used when able, sometimes new too.  I use several pieces from different brands ( Abeka, Apolgia, Sonlight, My Fathers World, Rod and Staff, Horizons,and so on).  A cuuriculum choice fom the traditional method, I have included for the past five years, to help guide me, is the Life Pac curriculum. 

The Life Pac curriculum comes complete with a years worth of materials (workbooks and readers) for the student for each subject, and really nice teachers manuals too.  Their prices per subject is very reasonable (new $49 to $70) or (they sell five subjects, a whole grade level, for $230) and you can find them in used curriculum sales too.  Compared to many other curriculums like Abeka which run several hundred dollars per subject, these are much more affordable for our family.

Teaching Textbooks Math for our 4th grader was another good purchase this year.  It runs about $130, but it is both a workbook and an interactive learning program on CDROM.  This has been a good change to help him stay motivated with math.

When it comes to workbooks, I was given some very good advice a few years ago, “Use them as a resource.  You don’t have to use all of the material.”  The key words were  “Do half the problems on a page” and “skip some pages”.  These were the wisest words I have received in all my years of homeschooling from a wise friend.  At the time these words were spoken, I was in tears trying to push the curriculum and had a new baby and felt like I was failing.  She shared with me the answer to letting go of perfection, and the frustration of trying to get it all done.  Now I feel free to pick and choose what material in the books I want them to lea
They don’t have to do it all, and neither do I.
Online curriculum, either interactive or downloadable is a wonderful resource too.  I use a lot of preschool curriculum from online websites.  I also obtain a lot of free worksheets and craft templates for all the grade levels too.  There are hundreds of free lapbooks and unit studies online.  These have been an invaluable resource for our learning.  Some of these free sources come through Currclick, Lapbook Lessons, Homeschool Share, DTLK, First School, and many others.

I watch for sales and I buy online downloadable curriculum too, especially unit studies from Currclick, Hands Of A Child, Amanda Bennett, Download N Go, Learnin Folders, Homeschool In The Woods, Homeschool Legacy, A Journey Through Learning, The Old School House, and more.  I have found sales for these from $.25 to $5 on products that have retail values upto $40.  One thing that helps is to get on their mailing list so you know when the sales are happening.  But some offer regular sales every week, such as Amanda Bennett and Hands Of A Child offer several units for $5.

We make good use of the internet for videos, online classes, downloadable curriculum especially unit studies, and various worksheets, virtual field trips, and interactive games.  We utilize the TV for educational movies, documentaries, entertainment, and learning programs.

Currclick has several online co-op classes taught in the fall and the spring.  We have enjoyed the classes and highly recommend them.  Some of the live classes we have been involved in were: Science Jim, Lego Club, and Cooking.

For music, we have a stereo at the kids level, that holds three cd’s at a time.  There is a large space in front of the stero where the kids can dance or move to the beat.  We also have keyboards, guitars, drums, a violin, a recorder, a zylophone, and various shakers and noise makers in addition to some music books, to help us learn about rythum and music appreciation.  I hope in the future to be able to provide some formal music lessons for our children.

We also are using workboxes, though at this time I have not implemented the workbox system as I would like.  We started using the “box” three years ago, and it came out of necessity of living in a small house and needing to keep their materials contained yet portable. 

I only recently learned there is a method called “workbox”.   Using this system for 5 children x 10 boxes each will require a lot more expense and space than I have at this time.   

Currently, each of my children have one workbox containing their workbooks.  Each child also has their own shelf on our school shelves that holds the remaining items they work on that do not fit into their workbox.  The workbox is portable so we can bring it to the table and then put it back on the shelf when we are through. 

However, as I have learned more about the “
official workbox system “, and some “modified” versions of it, I want to incorporate more of its ideas and usefulness for our family in the future when finances allow for these changes. 

I have read some great articles on the “modified workbox” versions for large families and I can’t wait to implement these ideas.  It seems to me that a modified version of the workbox system would greatly improve planning, and promote more independence when that is needed for certain subjects.   If you would like to learn more about a modified version of the workbox system that works well with having more than a few children you can read here , here , here , and here  to find out more.


There are lots of community resources to help with learning opportunities for your children.

Homeschool Associations are a great place to start.  Also the library offers some classes as well as thousands of books, movies, and more.  Our local homeschool association has a resource room/library too.

Coop Classes: our local homeschool association in Hendersonville ( HCHA ), has enrichment classes on Fridays which we plan to do as it fits into our schedule and budget.  The homeschool association in Upstate Greenville County has lots of field trips and get togethers on Thursdays which we also plan to do as it fits into our schedule.

We include trips to museums, historical programs and living history events,  Farms, ocean, aquariums, Zoos, education centers and more.  We have a family membership to Hands On, a local childrens museum.  (note to self: I need to remember to get it renewed as the kids love going there.) This museum has lots of hands on activities and learning centers.  They also offer art &craft classes each month for an extra fee.  We love the Greenvile SC zoo and the Columbia Reedy River zoo.  We have been to the aquarium in Newport Kentucky three times, and in Knoxville TN three times.  Yes we love aquariums! 

We try to find outings that are very affordable and within a short drive of where we live.  We just plan something every Saturday and just go.  One resource we have found out about a lot of fun things to do is and the visit (your state).com websites.

We have had the three older boys in tennis lessons in the past, through one of the local sports centers, and it would be nice to have a family membership and benefit from their wonderful resources year around.  The biggest two things we would like from a sports complex are tennis and swimming lessons.  (note to self: Mom could benefit from using some exercise machines too!!!)

For outdoor physical activity and play, we make good use of the yard, and local parks.  Each of our kids has a bike and they ride on our driveway and the culdesack in front of our home.  In the backyard there is room to fly a frisbee, play ball, and in the sandbox or water toys.  We have some garden boxes the children help plant too.  We have some dogs and the children walk them daily and play with them in the yard.   We don’t have a swing set yet, so we go to the park for this activity.

Parks within a short drive we frequently visit include East Flat Rock, Jackson Park, Fletcher Park (has a trout stream and wonderful walking path), Tryon Park (has a trout stream, and wonderful walking path) park at the lake at Black Mountain, and the park at Lake Lure in North Carolina; and Central Park (like a wooden castle) in Greer, SC, Reedy River Park (has a waterfall and a suspended bridge) in Greenville, SC and the park by a beautiful lake at Boiling Springs, SC.  These are wonderful parks for kids.  We also take a lot of nature walks, and our field trips tend to involve a lot of walking on Saturdays. 

We do lots of field trips.  We go on field trips almost every Saturday with Dad as a family.  Sometimes we also attend field trips during the week, and some with the local homeschool groups. 

We also take the children to a science class called Science Beyond The Classroom, taught by Ellen Kahue in Greenville, SC  as often as we can afford to take it.  She teaches a w
onderful class once a month.  She is a terrific science teacher.  But with a large family like ours, it can be expensive.  It costs $22 for the first child, $18 for the second, and $12 for the third child from the same family to take the class, so we have to pick and choose which of her great classes we can afford to take the older three boys to.  You can read about a class we took with her
here .  You can see her website here .  She offers wonderful Saturday classes each month.

For the past year, we have visited a nursing home in Fletcher NC once a week.  We usually go for an hour either on Saturday or Sunday (depending on how far away our field trip was).  Our weekends very busy between field trips, nursing home visits, church, and grocery shopping.  Our busiest time of the week is Saturday and Sunday.   The only days we missed this past year were due to illness.  This has been a great confidence builder in our children to visit and care about older adults.  They had the best time during the Christmas party this year singing songs and sharing hugs with the elders.

For our faith based learning, the bible is our source.  We live it daily, talk about it when we rise, when we walk by the way, when we eat, when we lay down.  We read the bible with our children.  Our faith is life to us. 

We attend 
Redemption World Outreach Center  in Greenville, SC.  RWOC has Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services, with lots of encouragement in our walk with the Lord.  They have recently opened a satellite church in Fletcher, NC and hold services at the Lila Patterson Center too. 

If you are near Greenville, I encourage you to stop in and visit RWOC.  If you can’t make it there, but would like to watch the services live (Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights) or if you would like to see past services or past services and praise and worship, you can access those choices from your computer at this
link .

Our children love attending the Power Source bible classes at RWOC.  They have made many friends of different and same cultural backgrounds.  They learn how to retell bible stories in a group and have often received awards for good behavior and scripture memory and being a “doer of the word”.  They assist with helping receive the tithes and offerings, worship and praise, prayers, scriptures, answers, and more.  Recently one of our sons helped with the puppet ministry too.  This class has been wonderful in building our sons confidence in helping others too.  The class is taught by Pastors James & Joy, and Pastors Mark & Faye.  Mark and Faye are also homeschooling parents of five children. 

RWOC has a wonderful homeschool ministry too.  If you live near Greenville, I strongly encourage you to get involved.  It will certainly bless you.  If you would like to read more about these and the many other ministries at RWOC, here is a
link .

Here is the ECLECTIC approach to curriculum we are using this school year. 

We don’t follow all the materials in the mentioned workbooks listed below.  We may only do half the materials, or less, in a given subject.  Instead, we pull from these what seems appropriate for the direction we are learning on a given day. This is the best approach for our family.  For a longtime, I used to feel guilty if my children didn’t finish a workbook or whole course.  At some point I realized I was looking at it from a public school point of view, rather than a living school or homeschool point of view.  Wow.  There is freedom in realizing that.

Now we live life.  We include in our schooling what promotes our living.  We don’t serve the education, the education serves us.  No more guilt. 

Learning is and should be fun!  If we are miserable, then why do it?  What are we wanting to achieve by homeschooling our children?  My goal is not to recreate the public school in my home.  My goal is to teach my children skills they will need to function in a healthy way as adults, while bringing God glory through their lives. 

The first and most important thing is to “Love God.”  The next is to “Love Others as they Love Themselves.”  Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is summed up in these.  The education I give my children must keep these as the main goal.

What’s In The Box & What’s On The Shelf?

As we go along this journey, I plan to post several “what’s in the box or on the shelf this week” articles.  So stay tuned….
On the right in this picture, is our workbox and shelf for each child.  Tot is on the bottom, pre-k is next up, then K, 2nd, and 4th.  Above 4th is baskets of pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, and flash cards.  Above that is phonics manipulatives, word tiles, more flash cards, and word puzzles.  To the left, the green shelves contain games and puzzles. 

4th Grade

Various Unit Studies.  Unit studies incorporate all the different disciplines including Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Geography, Life Skills, Copywork, Art, Poetry, Bible, Lapbooks, Notebooks, and more.

Various Sensory Activities.

Nature Studies-Outdoor Hour Challenge, Season Challenges,

Math- Teaching Textbooks 4th, Cuisinaire Rods, Math Manipulatives Kits,

Language Arts-Abeka Readers, Life Pac Language Arts 4th, various story books and book reports.  Writing stories for local news articles.

Science-Switched On School 4th, Lots of Science Kits covering various themes.  I found a lot of these on eBay for very cheap.  Calender and Weather Time.

History & Geography-Life Pac 4th

Bible-Life Pac 4th, Devotions, Power Source classes through RWOC, Scripture Memorization and copywork,

Music-Praise and Worship through RWOC, CD’s, Learning Keyboard, Learning Guitar Chords,

Art-work through the art instructions found on Samantha Bells website, attend Samantha’s classes and other art classes when able, utilize drawing books and the internet for how to draw things he is interested in.  Visit an art museum.  Also he loves to make paper crafts, so I will continue to support his interest in this.  He also wants to learn to sew costumes, have purchased a boys sewing book Buttons To Bobbins to help him get started.  Will look into a sewing class when we can.

Technology & Computer-spend time several days a week learning how to use these.

Construction & Building-Legos, Erector Sets, K’
nect, Construction Bricks, Wood working, etc.

Physical Activity-Daily walk with dogs, chores, outdoor play, weekly park day with homeschool families, weekly field trips, etc.

Life Skills & Stewardship- learn about health, hygiene, and self care, learn recipes, help with cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, chores, helping with younger siblings, responsible for the care of family dogs, learn to use bow and arrow, learn about hunting, help dad with projects in the garage, help mow the lawn, learn to save his earnings, learn about tithing, and how to spend his earnings responsibly.

2nd Grade

Various Unit Studies. Unit studies incorporate all the different disciplines including Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Geography, Life Skills, Copywork, Art, Poetry, Bible, Lapbooks, Notebooks, and more.

Various Sensory Activities

Nature Studies- Outdoor Hour, Nature Challenge

Math-Life Pac 2nd, Cuisinaire Rods, Math Manipulatives Kits, computer math games, Leapster games,

Language Arts-Life Pac 2nd, Abeka Readers, various story books, Leap Pad reading books,

Science-Life Pac 2nd, Lots of Science Kits covering various themes, Calender and Weather Time

History & Geography-Life Pac 2nd

Bible-Life Pac 2nd, Power Source classes through RWOC, Scripture Memorization and copywork,

Music-Praise and worship through RWOC, CD’s, loves music and is self learning the guitar, drums, and piano. I am teaching him voice and harmonization skills.  Would like to get him into a childrens choir, but so far have not found an affordable one or one that fits into our family life.

Art-lots of it!

Technology & Computer-spend time several days a week learning how to use these.

Construction & Building-Legos, Erector Sets, K’nect, Construction Bricks, Wood working,

Physical Activity-Daily walk with dogs, chores, outdoor play, weekly park day with homeschool families

Life Skills & Stewardship- learn about health, hygiene, and self care, learn recipes, help with cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, chores, helping with younger siblings, responsible for the care of family dogs, learn to use bow and arrow, help dad with projects in the garage, help mow the lawn, learn to save his earnings, about tithing, and how to spend responsibly.


Play is the most important method of teaching and learning at this age.  Free play, guided play, role play, and games are a big part of what we do each day.

Various Unit Studies.  Unit studies incorporate all the different disciplines including Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Geography, Life Skills, Copywork, Art, Poetry, Bible, Lapbooks, Notebooks, and more.

Various Sensory Activities & Discovery Bins

Nature Studies- Outdoor Hour, Nature Challenge

Language Arts-Life Pac K, various story books

Math-Life Pac K, Math Manipulatives Kits, computer math games, leapster math games,

Science-Lots of Science Kits covering various themes, Calendar and Weather Time,
Bible-Power Source classes through RWOC, Scripture Memorization and copywork,


Art-lots of it!

Technology & Computer-spend time several days a week learning how to use these.

Construction & Building-Legos, Erector Sets, K’nect, Construction Bricks, Wood working,

Physical Activity-Daily walk with dogs, chores, outdoor play, weekly park day with homeschool families

Life Skills & Stewardship-lots of this, see above


Play is the most important method of teaching and learning at this age.  Free play, guided play, role play, and games are a big part of what we do each day.

Include in many of the science, history, art learning activities, bible, and music with the older children mentioned above.

Calender and Weather Time
Discovery Bins
Various Sensory Activities
Various Crafts
ABC Notebook
Unit Studies with older siblings

and ideas from these resources:
    Raising Rock Stars (1+1+1+=1)
    Letter of the Week (Confessions of a Homeschooler)

    Tot School (Spell Out Loud)
Play Academy
We Play

Tot School

Play is the most important method of teaching and learning at this age.  Free play, guided play, role play, and games are a big part of what we do each day.

Include in many of the science, history, art learning activities, bible, and music with the older children mentioned above.

Calender and Weather Time
Discovery Bins
Various Sensory Activities
Various Crafts
ABC Notebook
Unit Studies with older siblings

and ideas from these resources:
    Raising Rock Stars (1+1+1+=1)
    Letter of the Week (Confessions of a Homeschooler)

    Tot School (Spell Out Loud)
Play Academy
We Play

Mom School

Yeah, thats right, I need to keep learning too.  I have a lot to learn.  I have been to college and numerous training programs, read way to many books, etc.  But my learning still seems new and it is a continuing process.  

These are the resources for me in this season of my life.  I hope to utilize them well, be flexible, take what will benefit, and meet challenges in these, to improve and grow in my faith, in my role as a mom, my role as a wife, and friend, as I go along the way.


Bible Study

Dates with Dad
Raising Homemakers-web articles
Above Rubies-magazine articles and website
Weston A Price Foundation-website
Nourishing Traditions-magazine articles based on WAPF principles
Physical Activity with Teresa Tapp Program
Menu Planning
Homeschool Conferences
Mom’s Meetings & Get Togethers
Speak at groups on various topics of living and homeschooling
Curriculum Reviews
Product Reviews
Read Homeschool blogs and websites
Read Homemaking blogs and websites

That about sums up the plan!
And that in a nut shell is how we homeschool.

Don’t forget homeschool is living school, and it is a process.  The key to success in this process is to be flexible, and make it work for your family.  Look around at various homeschool blogs, visit with other homeschoolers in you
r community, read books on homeschooling and make a plan that works for you.

What is your learning plan?  Feel free to leave a comment and tell us about it.

Please share.

Winner Of Hands Of A Child Giveaway

Congratulations to

Co-Werfa Lyda .

She is the winner of the Hands Of A Child Bundle Giveaway.–free-give-away.aspx


This is my son.  He is in the 4th grade this year. 

He is a big help around here.   He helped with this contest.

It is great to be a homeschool family.  The children get to experience a wide variety of things.  Practicing skills that they will use in life.

I wrote down all the names of the contest entries on identical 2 1/2 by 4 inch pieces of paper.  My son helped count the names to be sure we had everyone’s entry.  

My son then folded the papers in half,
and then gave them a quarter turn and folded in half again. 

He placed each folded entry into a basket.  When it was time to do the drawing, he shook the basked vigorously, and stirred the folded papers with his eyes closed.  With his eyes still closed, he reached into the basket to pull out a folded entry.

He proudly announced “We Have A Winner”.

And the WINNER is  Lyda

Thank you son for your help with this contest. 

And thank you to all the contestants who sent entries in. 


Hands of a Child has wonderful curriculum. 

In case you have never used one of their products before, I thought I would show you a picture of a Unit Study we bought from them a few months ago.

This project is the Airplane Study. 
Shown here is a unit study manual, an answer key, a double file folder and one student’s packet of worksheets from the kit pack.  The manual has vocabulary, reading list, website internet links, 20 learning activities, and a bibliography, and additional suggestions for further learning.

Here we spread out a couple worksheets for you to see. 
The kit pack contained worksheets printed on a variety
of colored heavy duty paper, for each of the twenty activities in the manual.

We bought materials for four students to complete.  So there are four sets of folders, and four packets of worksheets.

We plan to get the pictures of the completed unit study 
posted for everyone to see soon. 
We have just a few final projects and details to complete. 
Stay tuned for lots of pictures of the entire unit we did and it will be spread over several posts, maybe 20.

We made this study into a semester long unit. 
Our goal was to use it for 20 weeks of learning adventures. 
It took us a while to do this study, as we stopped often
to do “tons” of experiements in airplane kits,
and books I bought to go along with our learning. 

Plus there is a lot of material here to digest. 
We bought the study for the upper age level. 
This material would be great all the way through high school. 
They also offer a lower age group study too. 

Anyways, plan for lots of hours of fun!!! 

Don’t forget to stop back by and post your completed unit studies to our 
Unit Study and Lapbook Show and Tell.

Here is more information about Hands Of a Child products
 and The HOAC 400th Celebration

go to  and sign up for their email notices to keep upto date.

*Offer a free COMPLETE unit every 6 months which can be downloaded by
anyone at:

* To download the FREE 2010 E-Catalog visit:

* 400th Project Pack
sale will be early next year and will include great discounts
as well as 3 completely free 1 year Super Memberships ($225 value),
a FREE Custom Ordered Project Pack (you tell us the topic and grade
level and we do all the work, a $75 value),
and a FREE Lifetime SuperMembership ($275 value)!
Be sure to read up on the features of all these
giveaways by visiting:

Please share.

Hands Of A Child 400th Celebration & Free Give Away

Free Bundle Pack Drawing 
In The Hands Of A Child

Drawing Ends Monday January 3, 2010

**Free bundle packs include a printed Project Pack, Kit Pack, and Answer Key  (when available) which will be mailed to you  when the drawing is
completed. This is a $40 value with EVERYTHING covered by HOAC, including shipping!

Here is how to enter for your chance to win a free Bundle Pack from In The Hands Of A Child (HOAC):

Step 1:
Create a wishlist of your top 5 titles from In the Hands of a Child Project Packs.
Step 2:
Post your “wish list” back to the comments section below on this blog.  Tell us what 5 products you would like to try from Hands Of A Child.  In your comment, be sure to leave info regarding the target grade level you would like to have your bundle pack in such as: pre-k, 1st, 5th, and so on.

Be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you if you have won.
Comments are moderated, so it may take a few hours for it to post.  Check back to be sure we recieved your comment.

I will contact the winner by email to get a shipping address and contact info for the bundle pack to be mailed to you.

Step 3:
Like us on facebook.  Click on the link in the sidebar.
(Not required for giveaway, but would really appreciate your support.)

Step 4:
Like us on google friends.  Click on the link in the sidebar.
(Not required for giveaway, but would really appreciate your support.)

Don’t forget to follow each step. 

One response from our readers, will be chosen at random, and that reader will receive a free bundle pack** from In the Hands of a Child!

Be sure to sign up for our email subscription to get all our updates sent to you.  Enter your email in the sidebar at the top.

Here Is More Information About The HOAC 400th Celebration  sign up for their email notices.

*We offer a free COMPLETE unit every 6 months which can be downloaded by
anyone at:

* To download our FREE 2010 E-Catalog visit:

* Our 400th Project Pack sale will be early next year and will include great
discounts as well as 3 completely free 1 year Super Memberships ($225
value), a FREE Custom Ordered Project Pack (you tell us the topic and grade
level and we do all the work, a $75 value), and a FREE Lifetime Super
Membership ($275 value)! Be sure to read up on the features of all these
giveaways by visiting:

(Note: Step 3 and 4 are optional, not everyone uses facebook as some of my readers let me know.  So that no one is left out, this was modified, so that only steps 1 and 2 are necessary to enter the giveaway contest).

Don’t forget to come back and enter your 5 items from your wish list that you would like to use from Hands Of A Child in our comment section below.     HOPE YOU WIN!!!!

Please share.

Unit Study And Lapbook Show And Tell

Do you have a unit study project, lapbook project, or thematic lesson you studied?

If so, link up your post to tell us about it. 

We want to feature your projects here and share them with other families. 

If you have more than one unit study project you have done, please enter a seperate link for the specific post about it.  We want to visit your blog, and see what you learned.  Also don’t forget to leave us a comment below.  If you feel your study was specific to a certain age group, be sure to mention that in the comment you leave below.

If you don’t have a blog, no problem, tell us what you did in the comment section below. 

If you have pictures you want to post, send me two or three and a paragraph or two about what you did, I would love to post your material in an upcoming article about unit studies.

Also, if you found a great unit study on another site, link it up here on the show and tell so we can all go and check it out.  We love for everyone to see the variety of unit studies different families are doing.

If you create unit studies or sell unit studies, please feel free to tell us about them.  We would love to see your products.

Let’s all share in the Unit Study Fun.

Please share.

Christmas Matchup Sensory Game

I couldn’t believe how easy this game was to create, and how much fun the children had playing with it. 

 I had no pre-plans in making it.  The idea struck me as I looked through some items at the Dollar Tree for a gift we were putting together for a needy child in our community.    As we walked down the isles,  I was fascinated by the different decorations and my mind was flooded with lots of sensory games we could put together.  That is really a great store to get affordable supplies to enhance your learning adventure.

Here is one of our new Christmas games: 

Christmas Matchup Sensory Game

It cost me $12 to make two games, and I had lots of leftovers, including lots of other characters like polar bears, reindeer, stars, ornaments, and more,  that I can create another game with. 

Once I got home and put it all together I realized I could have put the games together for $8 or $4 each, and still had some leftover.  But now, I have lots of leftovers to figure out what to do next.  I think another game is in the near future.

Christmas Tags = $1 for 50    I purchased 2 each of 4 different variety packs.  I could have purchased only two varieties, and had plenty.  For example, I ended up with 6 different santa’s, and four different snowmen, and three different Christmas trees.

Christmas Tray with four compartments = $1  I purchased 2.

Expandable Envelope to store game in = $1  I purchased 2.

This game is great because each of the tags are cut out of card stock, and shaped differently.  There are a variety of characters that are all santa, or all snowmen.  So it takes some discernment and paying attention.   Also they are layered in texture with paints, and grit, and glitter.  So touching them is fun and sensory oriented.  They are brightly colored to, so they are pleasing to the eye.

It was great fun for our toddler, who thought every compartment needed a santa, even though he also understood to match them into the right compartment.  It is interesting, because he is very exact, and wants everything in its proper place.  You should hear him get onto his big brothers if they forget to put their shoes away!   But he is also very independent, and he is really funny, and likes to think up his own games too.  Here he was showing me that santa could fit into the other holes so they all looked like santa.

Our preschooler loved this game.  She spent a long time matching the right tag into the right compartment, and feeling the different textures on the cards.  As soon as she had filled the tray, she was ready to dump them out and start again.  And again.  And again….

Even the older kids got in on the action.  We have a kindergartner, second grader, and fourth grader who all played with the game too.

Great game to also have a Christmas Matchup Racing Game

Have two players compete to match their cards into the correct compartment, accurately, the fastest. 

My boys are very competitive with each other.  So this game is a hit.

Another way to use the cards is to have the kids practice tracing or drawing them depending on their skill level.

Stay tuned for additional games and activities we create using these supplies.  I wonder how many different ways we can benefit in practicing our skills from this $12 investment? 

Please leave a comment and share what you’ve been up to at your house.

What games are you playing with during December? 

What other ways can you think of to use the left over Christmas tag cards?

Please share.

Black Friday Unit Study Sale by Amanda Bennett

Here is a great opportunity to check out Amanda Bennett’s Unit Studies.

Starting today and running through Friday, she is offering three different unit study products for $5 each. 

Each day she will post three more products.  

Be sure to check back each day to find out what is on sale.

Do you enjoy using unit studies?  Leave us a comment.

Please share.

Boys and Arrows




Life Skills & Survival Skills 

As part of our Thanksgiving Unit Study, we studied some of the survival skills the settlers knew, or learned by trial and error.

Here are some of the life and survival skills we looked at:

Ability to adapt to a new environment.
Ability to find and use water.
Ability to hunt for food, both vegetation and animal.
Ability to raise food.
Ability to store food.
Ability to cook food.
Ability to make shelter that provides safety in various weather conditions.
Ability to medically treat accidents and illnesses and survive them.
Ability to defend themselves against predators.
Ability to defend themselves against enemies.

Some of these skills they learned in the previous land they came from.  They brought a limited amount of basic tools with them on their journey. They were skilled at using these tools.  But they faced new challenges in the new land, and needed to learn some special skills to survive there.   Help came from their neighbors, the Native American Indians, who taught them many new skills or how to adapt the skills they had, to survive in the new climate and land they now lived.  This opportunity and ability to learn survival skills is a big part of the story of Thanksgiving and the history of our great country.   So this season, it is a perfect time of year for children to see and learn to use skills that were a part of our history, and bring the experience alive for them.

To be honest, these are all basic skills we still need today.  Even though we depend mostly on the grocery system for our food, and construction workers for our shelters, and doctors for our illnesses, and the military and police for our protection, to some degree we still need to learn a lot of these skills ourself.

If a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, ice storm, power outage, quarantine, act of terror, or some other horrible event happened and interfered with our food delivery system, how would your family survive?  How would you find food?  How would you find water?  How would you take care of yourself and your loved ones in a survival situation?


Our modern food system has only been on the scene for a short time, about 50 to 100 years, and even less for some of our modern food conveniences.  It is important to help your children understand what was it like to get their food, including water, grains, produce, milk, salt, and meat 100 years ago, 300 years ago, and even 1000 years ago.


In case of emergencies, it is wise to have at least a three day survival ration set aside in your home.  A survival ration would include basic food and supplies, and you should have a longer plan incase the event lasted longer than three days.   Many good sources recommend a four to a six month supply.   In recent history (just the past few years) whole communities ( thousands of families) have had to survive without power during ice storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes, deal with contaminated water during floods and hurricanes, and lack of basic resources.  Could your family survive this winter if the power went out for a week, and the roads were frozen over making it unsafe to drive, and the stores were closed because there was no power and no customers?

Now I am not saying you would have to hunt for meat during that three days or week.  However if the problem lasted longer, in the bitter cold of winter, a fresh deer could mean the difference of nourishment and going hungry in some situations.  But I am saying that learning basic survival skills is a good thing to do.  It helps you to have a “plan B” if normal daily life should get a “hic-up” in it and normal life became not normal for a few days.

This may sound ridiculous to folks who have only lived in the city, never experienced power outages, and had stores with in easy access all their life.  But if you have ever lived in a true rural situation, where it took several miles, maybe even an hours drive, to get to a grocery store, you would understand how life can be hard if you don’t have a modern system of grocery stores, refrigerators, freezers, electricity, and so on to help you survive.

You might be asking yourself, how in the world can I teach survival skills to my kids?  Well, cooking and self care skills during times of natural disaster, or economic collapse are not much different than the skills you need when you go camping.   Ask yourself these questions, what would you need to have and to know If you planned to go camping for a week?
Shelter and a way to keep warm and dry.
A way to get safe water.
A way to get nourishment for your body.
A way to treat an injury if one occurred.

Survival skills are important to have.  The last few generations don’t understand this, and very few have the skills needed to survive without modern conveniences if they had too.  Take the time to teach your children a few survival skills to help them get through a disastrous time in life if they had too.   You will need to judge for yourself when you think your children are ready to work with items such as fire, pocket knives, or other equipment that could be dangerous if used in correctly.   I will post links to several sites with good information and videos at the end of this article. 



How Leaning Life Skills and Survival Skills As A Child, Helped Me As An Adult:


I was privileged to have a lot of different experiences growing up.   When I say privileged it wasn’t because we had any money.  No, life was quite the opposite, we were poor.  But life was full of a lot of different situations, and I learned a lot of survival skills to help me get through this life.   Making opportunities out of tough experiences, to learn and grow through difficult situations, well I think that is a special privilege.   Going through these things and surviving made me a stronger person.

Here is my two cents on living through difficult times.   I see it as you have three choices:
1) You don’t survive
2) You survive, but you also break and become addicted to things to help you cope,
3) You cope and get stronger, and with God’s help, overcome the hard times to be a better person.

That is the choice I made as a young girl.  I made a decision around age 8 years old, that with God’s help, I was going to overcome every situation in life, and use it as a challenge to become smarter, stronger, and survive.

There have been times in my life where I was in a survival situation.   Having provisions set aside, and knowing basic skills such as how to start a fire and cook on it and keep warm, meant a huge difference in our comfort level.

Many times as a child and as an adult, I have survived in tornadoes and had to stay in cellars, basements, and storm shelters, with no power or water at times.

I have been in ice storms that left us with no power, no heat, no water, the roads were shut down, and the local stores were closed.  This has happened to me several times, and one of those times my husband was out of town and I was pregnant and had three young children.  No family to rely on, just pregnant me and the young kids.  Could have been a disaster, had it not been for a little know how, and a little preparation ahead of time.  That time, thankfully, we did have an emergency generator for our barn.  So the kids and I had to sleep ( I promise I did not sleep as I was to scared of spiders in the dark) on the ground, huddled together,  barely warmed by an emergency generator powering a little heat to the barn, and it gave me one outlet to use an electric skillet to make something warm to eat.

But other times, when I didn’t have such a luxury, I have cooked over an open fire, or on an outdoor grill ( be sure to have a full propane tank for the grill, even though its winter and you don’t plan to cook on it), and to keep warm we used either a fire (dangerous with young children) or a portable gas heater (can be dangerous from carbon monoxide, but when it is zero degrees outside, you have to weigh your options and your risks).    I have taken water from streams before and had to use it for necessities when we had no power to our well pump.  I have had to pull food from the pantry and cupboards to survive for a week, when there was no working stove and no open store available to get food.  I have prepared a fire outside to boil water or cook food.  Again, I just want to drive this point home, it is wise to always keep your gas grill or charcoal grill with plenty fuel on hand in case of an emergency power outage.

A great skill I learned as a child, how to raise and butcher meat, was carried into adulthood.  On our farm in Indiana, a big part of the fall season for us and most of our neighbors, was to harvest meat for the coming year.  We butchered meat ourselves and we also hired the local usda butcher to do our cows.  We had several of our cows butchered each fall and sold the extra meat we did not need for our family.  We had a great reputation and lots of orders for our beef.  



My husband, Mike, also hunted, especially over the Thanksgiving weekend, when those days were set aside special just for hunting.  Most of the men we knew hunted during this time of year.  Here is a picture of a deer he shot in the heart, and then gutted before taking it to the butcher to be processed for freezer storage.  The butcher would process the meat into 1 lb frozen packages for our freezer.  We would have several cuts of steaks made, ground meat, sausage, smoked sausage, and ham.  We would also later make our own jerky from some of the meat.  I would ask for the heart and liver to be put into 1lb packages also.  I would have some of the bones saved for making broth.

Mike has hunted in both Kansas and Indiana and always hunted with a rifle, a shotgun and a muzzle loader.  He used to harvest one to two deer a year.  He would have the local butcher process the meat into 1lb packages for the freezer.  We ate this meat once or twice a week all year long.  The ground meat made the best taco’s.  We had the whole deer ground except for the tenderloin we had cut into steaks and we had 4 rolls of deer summer sausage made each season too.  I would never let them add pork or lard to the mix.  Just straight deer.  Oh it was the best you have ever tasted, so lean and delicious.  We always took a plate of this to holiday dinners.

Here is a picture of deer summer sausage, honey comb, and bottles of our favorite flavors of Black Cherry and Tangerine Knudson Spritzers.


This is me around 20 years of age with my catch of fresh fish.  Fishing was another skill I learned as a young girl.   Wish I still looked 20, ha, ha.


Passing Life Skills On To This Generation:

Well it has been both easy and hard to teach some of these life skills to our children.  Our years on the farm till 2008, was a good start.  The kids learned to milk goats and cows, to raise beef cows, chickens, sheep and goats, for food, and how to help in the garden.  In the garden they learned to help till the soil, plant the seeds, weed, water, and harvest.   Three of the children were old enough to learn to mow the grass.  One son learned to help operate the tractor.  The older three rode in the cab of the tractor while baling fields of hay and while feeding bales of hay to cattle in the pasture.  The children learned to collect fresh eggs everyday, and what happens if you collect one from a spot you forgot to look in for a while, Pee-U!  They learned to feed and water the animals and give them hay each day.  They learned to help build and repair fence and pens too.

When they weren’t learning during chores, they were learning and practicing during play.  They learned to jump hay bales and play king of the mountain.  They played on their fort and swing set.  They practiced digging for China in the garden.  They loved to look for fishing worms and get them ready for dad to take everyone fishing.
They practiced casting their fishing rods in the driveway.  Look out!!  They rode their bikes up and down the drive way and surrounding hills.  They built ramps to ride their bikes on too.  They would throw a rope over a tree branch to swing on it or to climb the tree.  They rode the goats like a horse.  They chased chickens.  They would lay down in the sheep and goat pen and play with them.  They would run and race the baby cows in their pasture.  They stole mom’s ripe berries off the berry bushes before she could harvest them.  They even played with dad’s mower with supervision.  Dad let them race the mower, and do donuts in the driveway.  We also took them fishing in our pond when we had time to sit back for a while.  They all love to fish as much as I do.


Since moving to North Carolina, we have been able to fish several times at Lake Lure and a couple times at Orchard Lake Campground.   Mike has really wanted to go hunting, but we know no-one to let him go on their ground.   He misses it like crazy.   He has been to the local shooting range a few times to practice with his gun, and he has recently taken the oldest, James to teach him gun safety and practice hitting the target.

He has also been wanting to learn to shoot a bow and arrow.  It is a life long dream of Mike’s to hunt with a bow and arrow, though he always found the concept a bit intimidating in the past.  He hadn’t been around anyone to learn the skill as they used one, and from all his friends had told him it was very difficult.   But deep in his heart he still wanted to learn it and master it.

Our son James has asked for almost three years if we could get him a bow and arrow set and teach him how to use it.  He too, wants to hunt a deer with it.   For his 9th birthday, we got him a plastic learning set from Back To Basics.  It had suction cups instead of arrow tips on the ends.  This was a good place to start, but it was a little young for him, and he eventually lost interest in the set.

In part of our reading for homeschool, James read a book about two brothers from the 1860’s who learned how to hunt for food and used different survival skills.  They had to survive in a new land for eight months alone, with out their family.   They learned to fish, make fish traps, hunt for food, make small animal traps, use a spear, use plants as medicine and food, and defend themselves from a bear.  The book is a great read for kids and adults.  It is called “Cabin On Trouble Creek”.  This story really motivated James again to want to learn survival skills and renewed his interest in wanting to know how to shoot with a bow and arrow.  

This fall, Mike began to research using a bow and arrows and details about buying a good starter set.  He bought James a real bow and arrow set, and a target block to practice.  Here are pictures of their first time to use it.  James’ arm was so sore after a few times that he could hardly continue to retract the bow.  Right off the bat, James had very good aim, he just needs to build up endurance and the strength in his arms to repeatedly pull back on the bow.  Mike also worked with the younger brothers, John and Joseph, in helping them learn the basics of holding the bow and aiming the shot.


Mike plans to work with the boys a half hour several times a week after work.  This will be a good activity for all of them to do together as they learn about a survival skill and learn about becoming young men.  I hope once they master it in practice, they will have the opportunity at some point to use it to hunt a deer.  I know the joy Mike would feel to achieve this childhood dream.


 Here are several links to help you teach survival and life skills to your children.

Bow And Arrow /  What it is and its history

How To Shoot A Bow and Arrow

Spears / What it is and its history

How To Hunt With A Spear

Here are some e-how survival videos by a guy who was a boy scout and now teaches wilderness survival skills.  These are great for kids to watch (how to make a spear stick, how to cook with hot rocks, and much more)

How to build a Camp Fire

How To Cook With A Camp Fire and How To Use Safe Water

How To Go Camping In Your Back Yard

A little funny, but gives you a simple idea of how you could practice setting up for an emergency if you needed to.  Keep all your camping or emergency gear in one place and that will help to minimize frustration on where stuff is located.  I heard one person say they easily can move everything they need in less than 15 minutes because they have it all in one place.  Wow, in an emergency like a power outage, that could save you loads of time and headache.

Here is a beginners guide to go camping.  Use this list to make your own list of what items you would want or need in your emergency supplies

Governement List to Make an Emergency Kit

Where to buy tools and supplies

What to do if the power goes out in the winter

How To Make A Power Outage Bearable

Here is another good article written by Possum Hill Farms, called Homesteading in America.  The article is about why it is important to know survival skills and reduce our dependence on commercialism.

Scripture passages are from

 Genesis 21:20
God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.

Genesis 27:3
So take your bow and arrows, then go out in the fields, and kill a wild animal.

Psalm 127:4
Having a lot of children to take care of you in your old age is like a warrior with a lot of arrows.


What are some ways you are teaching life skills and survival skills to your children?
Please leave a comment and let us know.




Please share.

Eastern Blue Bird Unit Study

What an exciting week we have had studying the Eastern Blue Bird!

We are doing a Bird Unit Study from some resources we purchased from Currclick, the link is posted below.  We spent a several days this week learning about the life of the Eastern Blue Bird. 

If you are interested in resources for your homeschool or classroom on great unit studies that are affordable, click on the Currclick link.  We purchased the Daily Bird, My Favorite Backyard Bird,  Bird Call Memory, John James Audubon: A Great Appreciation of Nature Unit Study, and All Owls.  Some resources on their site are free, and others range in price from  $.50 and up.

Just type in the search box on the website to locate what you are looking for:

CurrClick “curriculum in a click”

Here are some of the basic details we discovered. 

The Eastern Blue Bird lives in the Eastern half of the US and central America.  It is a cousin of the Western Blue Bird.  It prefers to eat insects and berries.  It will occasionally eat lizards and frogs and other prey.  It usually lives near the edge of an open area or near an orchard.  It will often build a nest very high 50 feet up, in an old woodpecker hole in a pine tree or oak tree, but will also build nests in holes on fence posts.  The female builds nests made of horse hair, turkey feathers, grass, and pine needles.  The male will help collect the items for the female to build the nest with.  The female lays 4 to 5 eggs that are pale blue in color and keeps them warm until they hatch.  The male will help feed the young after they hatch.

The best way to attract the Eastern Blue Bird to your yard is to set out a bowl of meal worms for them to enjoy. 

On Thursday we drew and colored pictures of the bird and made a web drawing of its life. and began working on a lapbook for our bird study.  On Friday we practiced listening to eight different bird calls and played a memory game to help us remember what each bird sounds like and how to recognize their calls.

Today, Saturday,  we attended a science lab class in Greenville, South Carolina called Science Beyond the Classroom.  The teacher, Ellen Kahue, offers these classes 1 time a month.   She has a great website where you can see lots of information about the labs and what the children are learning:  

The kids loved taking this class with Ellen Kahue! Thank you Ellen for a great learning adventure! 

Ellen offered several of these classes during the day, and we chose the morning class.  The kids were in a room with about 10 children and a few parents.  

They were so excited too because they got to wear scientist lab coats!     

Daddy joined the class with them and helped the teacher as needed, while I stayed outside and pushed my two little ones around in a stroller.  It was very hot and sunny outside in Greenville today.  We walked around the building and up and down the road.  We found birds, pine cones, picked and ate rasberries, saw lots of bugs, and more while we waited.  We also visited with another mom toward the end of the wait.  We had just as much fun as the older boys and dad. 

By taking this class, the boys learned more information about the life of the Eastern Blue Bird.  They received a bird watching journal and a packet of stickers and binoculars for locating the birds.  Over the next week or two they are to keep and eye out for the different birds in the journal.  Once they find a bird, they are to put the correct sticker next to it in their journal.  Once they complete the journal, we are to get back in touch with the teacher to recieve a certificate of completion.

During the lab class, the children each built a bird feeder by drilling holes in a log, filling the holes with shortning inside the class and then came outside to push sunflower seeds and pine seeds into the shortning.  Then they put a hanger eyelet and wire on one end.  It is a beautiful and very natural looking birdfeeder.  I am very impressed by its simplicity, but very functional.


They also built a bird house out of a gourd and again put a hanger on the small end.  The gourd has been painted white.

Tommorrow we will place these feeders and houses in our yard.     For now we will need to get some poles to put them on as we dont have any trees yet and still working the yard trying to get grass to grow. 

In the future, I would really like to set up a small observing garden area to watch birds, frogs, butterflys and other insects.  A place special to sit on benches and such, surrounded by bird feeders, bird houses, small fountains, bird baths, flowers and bushes and such.  Maybe have a small gold fish pond too.  A quiet place for the children to sit and observe the world around them.  A “thinking” place.  I haven’t yet come up with a design, but I am putting some ideas together. 

In the afternoon we went to Conestee Lake and Nature Preserve.  We walked a trail that took us on a boardwalk over marshy ground and you could hear many birds up in the trees.  Some would fly above us, but they were took quick for us to see what they were.  Then we came to an open area over water and the board walk became a bridge and there were two adult geese and five goslings swiming along.  The boys were so excited to spot them.

We also went to the Southside park to see the water park (will do this adventure on another day) and play at the play ground.  There we spotted several robins coming and going finding worms and insects on the ground then flying up into the trees.

On our way home, coming back up the mountain on highway 25, we spotted three wild turkeys eating in the grass near the highway.

When we pulled into the driveway, before getting out of the van, we spotted two mocking birds in our yard.  They were black and white and very beautiful to look at.  They poked around on the ground for a while then flew off to some taller bushes to perch in.

They boys were so excited to find and recognize the different birds during our trip today, and when they got into the house they located the stickers for those birds and put th
em in their bird watching journal.  They are already asking us when we can go on a bird scavavenger hunt and find more birds, when we can study the next bird in our Bird Unit Study, and they are asking when they can take another Science Beyond The Classroom lab class with Miss Ellen Kahue.

Be Blessed!

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How To Create A Unit Study


My children and I love working with Unit Studies.  I homeschool five children and my kids prefer a unit study adventure over using workbooks.  It definitely makes learning fun for everyone in our home.

 We have been doing unit studies for at least four years.  It started off with doing two a year in addition to our curriculum.  A few years later we included two days a week for doing unit studies and was able to accomplish four new subjects each semester.  We found we liked them so much that we now do them for one to two hours a day, everyday.  Sometimes we even do two different unit studies in one day.  We still use a blended approach with other curriculum, but I am learning that many homeschool families have turned to this as their sole method of curriculum.

What is a unit study, you might ask?  A unit study is simply an in depth look or investigation of a subject.  So often the school work we give our kids skims over the surface of a topic.   But a unit study is the opportunity to learn more about that topic, to become a semi-expert in it.  A unit study is like digesting a meal rather than it just passing through, if you get my drift.    A unit study can turn learning about a subject into an adventure.   A unit study covers a topic from lots of angles: history, science, grammar, math, life skills, art, music, etc. It can be taught to various ages and skill levels at the same time.   It shows you how everything in life overlaps.  So the bible is applicable to everything.  Science is applicable to everything.  Life skills are applicable to everything, and so on.    Because you use so much of your brain and different senses and methods to learn the information, it helps the student retain what they have learned.  By the time they are through with the unit study, they have actually lived and experienced a part of that idea or subject.

You can buy pre-made unit studies or you can make them yourself.  You can find free unit studies too.  I highly recommend using all of these ways to acquire unit studies to enhance your homeschool adventure.   I will list resources for these at the end of this article.

Evaluate how you want to spend your time, and how much time and money you have to invest.  Making your own unit study will still cost you something, and it could cost you more in regards to your time, than buying one on sale.   I definitely see advantages to buying many of my unit studies in regards to the worksheets and resources are all in one place and I can get started right away, rather than starting at zero.  But sometimes, the subject we want to study is not available and it works out to do it myself.

Making your own unit study is definitely an outlet for your creativity!  Nobody knows your kids better than you do.  You can incorporate your kids interests and learning styles into the unit as you design it.  The amount of creative work involved is on a spectrum, and you can make it as simple or as involved as you wish.  You can do it all yourself, or use others ideas and worksheets or templates to blend with yours, or totally rely on others pre-made guides.  The best way to decide which way to go, is to look at the needs of your own family and decide what is the best fit for you.

You can make a unit study on any topic.   Let me repeat that.  You can make a unit study on any topic!!!  You can also make your study last as long as you want it too.   Mini units cover material for one week, or you can stretch them and do them one or two days a week and make them last for four or five weeks.  You can also make a larger unit to cover daily for an hour or two, and make it last four whole weeks.  You can also build on this and make units last for several months too. 

My personal preference is two hours a day for four weeks, or about 20 hours of learning, as the kids really get into learning the material and retain what they have learned.   We also include making lapbooks, going on outings, movies, and family adventures to make the unit even more fun and educational.

It takes me about six hours to put together a unit study and lapbook materials for my kids that will last about four weeks of learning.   This is from scratch.  If I have a folder of info already started, I have completed units in less time.  But allowing my self six hours is a safe number.  I usually split this time up and will work on the research for the study 2 hours at a time for three days.  I try to complete my research for the study at least a week before we want to use the unit study.  This way allows me to feel confident in what we are doing.

I am glad to share with you how I create my unit studies.  I get a head start on them as I keep a box full of file folders labeled with different topics we are interested in learning about.  Some we will study this year and some we will study in the future, possibly next year.  As we go along through the year, I put any materials I come across on those subjects into the folders.  If I see worksheets, book titles, movie titles, news clippings, scripture verses, science experiments, recipes, crafts, field trips, or questions the children ask, these things all go into the folder.



The open box helps me keep the folders all in one place.  It is easy to pick up the box and move it to another room, the table, or store in a closet.  Then when I have time, and we are about a week away from studying the topic, I am able to spend a short amount of time putting it together into a unit study. This will really take off.  I have three boxes now with over 100 topics I have started.

When I am ready to start working on my unit study, I pull out my folder if I have started one.   I use a three ring binder, plastic pocket pages, and dividers, etc.  If I don’t have dividers available, post-it notes work just fine.  I label the binder with the name of the unit study, such as Robots, Blue Birds, USA, Japan, Hotdog, Human Body, Solar Energy, Ten Commandments, Volcanoes, and so on. 

For example, I recently made a unit study on Volcanoes.   Into my binder I put my lesson plans, library book and video lists, craft instructions, science experiment instructions, math ideas and worksheets, history, vocabulary definitions, websites, and scriptures into my binder.  Then I put an example of all the worksheets I had gathered. 



  For each child, I paper clipped their packet of worksheets together, and put this into their folder.  The file folder is used to hold the worksheets temporarily while we do the unit study.  Toward the end of the study, we use the file folders for lapbooks, or shutter books.  Basically you fold the file into a shutter fold.  Then you cut, glue, staple, and create this wonderful scrapbook of the unit study the children just did.  This gives each child a hands on keepsake folder of their learning adventure.  You can also notebook your worksheets and projects instead of lapbooking them.




Here are the steps I use to create a Unit Study:

1)    Select a Topic


A)   What are your students interested in learning about?  Make a list of potential subjects you would like to research and teach them through using unit studies.  You may find the topic already in your current curriculum and want to expand on it.  Or it may just be a topic your students are interested in.

   What are your learning objectives and what media will you use to reach your goals? 
What do you want to achieve?  How do you want to go about it?

Make a list of our goals and objectives.

You can use the library and the internet to find just about everything you need.   


C)   Make a list of your resources.


Some items you might use as resources might be books you have on hand, videos, games, field trips, websites, movies, virtual field trips, craft supplies, interviews with people who know the subject, TV programs, community programs, the library, the computer and internet, a jar with field trip money, or some money you have saved for supplies, a closet or drawer full of crafts materials you’ve recycled, a science kit, an art kit, a knowledgeable neighbor or friend, etc.




2)    Make A Plan And Write It Down


Make a plan and organize the information and resources you are putting together.  There are several ways to make a plan to organize your information. 


A)   For a month long unit study, divide your subject into four sub-themes, one for each week of study.  Decide on a title for each sub-theme.


   Make a map, chart, or a calendar for your study.  You can use a blank monthly calendar, or just use a sheet of paper to write out your plan.   Decide how many hours each week you will do your unit study, and what subjects you want to cover during those hours.


Here are several free planning forms for menus, schoolwork, and unit studies.



Here is a link to a unit study map you could use.



C)   Write your plan.  If you are doing a month long study and have divided it into four sub-themes, you can make a mini-lesson plan for each week of your unit study.  


1)    To make a mini-lesson plan, use four sheets of paper, one for each week. 


2)    Across the top of each page, label the week such as week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4.  


3)    Write your Topic and Sub-Theme in your heading at the top.


4)    Down the side of each paper, label the following headings that you want to cover in your study:  bible, vocabulary, language arts, science, geography, math, history, life skills, arts and crafts, music, field trips, etc.


5)    Next to each heading, you can now add information or materials that correspond with your topic in that subject area. 


6)    Put the information in a binder, folder, basket or box to store everything in.   


Inside my binder, I include plastic sheet protectors and dividers to help me keep items organized.  I use the sheet protectors as pockets too.  These are sturdy enough to hold small books and DVD’s and make it handy to keep everything together.  I usually use four dividers and label the dividers with the name of the mini-lesson plan or sub-theme for the week.


3)    Select subject areas and resources for your unit study.


A)   Vocabulary

1)    Establish 5 to 10 vocabulary words for each week of study.   Make four separate lists that relate to each week of your sub-theme.   For example, if your unit study is about the Fall Season, you may have divided it into subthemes such as Fall Weather Patterns; Fall plants,   Animal Changes in the Fall ; Fall Activities; etc.   So the first week your vocabulary words would pertain to Fall Weather Patterns, etc.


2)    Have the children learn the spelling and the meaning of the vocabulary word.  You can have them look up the meaning in a dictionary, or you can provide definitions for them.   Throughout the week, play games, draw pictures, do cross word puzzles or worksheets, use letter tiles, and rewrite the words in different activities to help them remember the words they are learning.



   Language Arts

     Here you will cover lots of areas such as reading, writing, grammar, etc.

     1) Reading Books:

a) Locate books that relate to your subject.  They could be:  Bible, Fiction,    Non fiction, Biography, Picture Books, Easy Readers, Family Readers, Leveled Readers, Poems, Song Books, Cook Books, Magazines, News Papers, etc.

b) Depending on skill level of your students, help them pick one or two books for them to read for each week.  Also pick a family reader for your study.  You can pick one for the whole unit or pick one for each week of your unit study.  It is up to you.

       2) Writing, Grammar, and Copy work:

Use both the bible, and a book you are reading to accomplish these goals.

a)  Include copying a bible verse each week related to your topic of study.  Toward the end of the week, dictate the verse and have the children write it down.  Help them where they are struggling with their grammar. 

b)  Each day you work on your unit study, or at least once a week, based on the child’s skill level,  have the child write a sentence or a paragraph about what they learned from the lesson.   You can also have them copy or rewrite a paragraph from a book you are reading.  You can also read a paragraph aloud to them and have them write down in their own words what you have said.  This will be a great activity to build their writing and story telling skills.

c) Have the children write a letter telling someone about what they are learning.  Or have them  write a letter to someone who is knowledgeable on the topic and see if they send back a response.  For example, if the unit study is on car racing, have the children write a letter to NASCAR or to INDY Speedway or even to one of the drivers who race the cars and ask for information about their sport. 

d) For younger children have them work on the Upper and Lower case letters from the Alphabet and relate them to the topic.  For example if you are studying Veterinarians then the younger children can work on the letter V v  or all the letters in the word, etc.

e) Have the children write their vocabulary words in a sentence.  This  maybe used for copy work too.  You may have already located sentences with  the word in them and the children can copy it into their notebook or on a piece of writing paper.

C)   Science

1)    Is your Topic a science subject?  If so, then great, science will be really easy to cover.  If it is not, then what science subjects can you find that are related to your topic?   


Be creative on this.  If your subject is famous artists then maybe you could find science  experiments on mixing paint ingredients, or colors, diseases related to some of the past paint ingredients such as lead poisoning, etc.  Or can you find an experiment where you cook with edible paint?  Or make bathtub or face paint?  How about finger paint and let the kids learn how to mix the colors or thicknesses and use different kinds of items to paint on?  Or how about using different items to put the paint on with, such as brushes, fruit or vegetables, leaves or grasses, sticks, etc.    


2)    Put together at least four different science experiments related to your topic.  You could do one experiment each week.   I personally like to include lots of science experiments and will try to include at least three a week in our studies.  I like to do a science experiment , recipe, or a craft everyday following our lesson.


3)    Have each student keep a journal of the experiment using the scientific method to record how the experiment was done and their findings.




D)   Math

1)    What math problems can you locate or create that relate to your subject based on the skill level of your student?  Is there adding and subtracting or multiplication involved?  What about algebra or geometry?

There are lots of free resources available on the internet to help you create math challenges for your student.  One great site to check out is

Use a graph to learn how different concepts are different or related.


E)   History

1)    Is your subject history?  Great, you got it covered.    If your subject is not history, then what is the “history” of your subject, because  everything has a history!!!

When did it start?  Who did it?  Who was it?  Who invented it?  How do we know about it?  How was it used?  What was going on in the world at that time?  How has it changed?  Who has been affected?  Did it lead to war?  Did it change governments?  Did it change economies? 

2)    Draw a history timeline to help reinforce your student’s learning.  Locate worksheets and coloring pages with pictures about the subject or key people involved.


F)   Geography

1)    Where did this subject occur?  Did it happen in several places?  Did it migrate or travel to other places over time? Where is it used now?


2)    Use a globe, an atlas, and maps and locate and discuss where this occurred. 


3)    Use blank maps and have the children color and label them. 


4)    Make crafts with the continent or country shape, such as dough maps or paper mache globes, etc. 


5)    Play geography games and puzzles to reinforce learning.


G)   Arts and Crafts

1)    What famous artists have created art related to your subject?  Include at examples you may find.

2)    Put together at least four crafts you can do with your children related to the subject.


        Possible art and craft options:

      • Recycle household materials to make your crafts.
      • Use play dough, salt dough, or clay to create projects.
      • Create a diorama of one of the books or stories they are reading about.
      • Drama is a form of art.  Are their any plays written about your subject, and can you make a simple costume or prop to include in acting out your scene?  You may want to recreate the play as part of your unit study. Or if there are no plays available, have the students write their own play. Also if your topic relates to a story in the bible, have the children act it out and make props or costumes as desired.
      • Make a puppet and retell part of the lesson. 
      • Paint, Draw, Color, Cut, Glue, etc. to enhance the learning.
      • Use craft kits that relate to your subject.  You can work with rock jewelry, leather, material, macramé, needle crafts, dyes, wood crafts, and so much more.


H)   Music

1)    Are their any songs written about your subject.  If so, try to include at least one to four in your unit study.  Music re-enforces learning and this is a great way to help the children remember your topic.


2)    One place to look for educational songs about different subjects is                                  



I)     Life Skills and Cooking

1)    Are there recipes that relate to your unit study?  If so, try to include at least one recipe for each week of your study. 


These can be snacks, deserts, breads, entrées, anything you want.  If your unit study is about a special group of people during a time period, have a celebration at the end with food, decorations, and games related to your study. Invite friends and family for the festivities. 


2)    Are there things about Life Skills or Home Steading that relate to your topic?  For example, if your study is about pioneers, help the children learn about baking sourdough bread, cutting firewood, or making soap, or tending gardens and animals.  Life skills are needed for our children to develop into responsible adults.  Incorporating life skills into the children’s studies helps them relate why it is important.


J)    Field Trips

1)    Are there places you can visit that relate to your topic? Contact them for information on prices and schedules.  Some are free and some will cost for admissions.  Also some are available year around and some are only able to be done during certain seasons.


2)    Set dates to visit one to four places that relate to your topic.


3)     There are lots of virtual field trips available on the internet too, and these can be a wonderful resource.  Don’t forget to add at least one of these into your unit study adventure.


K)   Lapbook

Make a lapbook from the worksheets, quizzes, copy work, art, experiements, etc. that you completed during your unit study.

Here is a link for lots of free templates and worksheets you can use in your lapbooking project.  Many of these are shape books that you can personalize with your unit study and will give your lapbook project lots of character.

          Here is a link to show you more about lapbooking.


L)    Other Resources

What other resources are available to work into your unit study learning adventure?


1)    DVD and VHS

                   Movies and Documentories that are available and related to your topic.

2)    Computer Games on the internet or on CD-Rom.

Are their computer games or learning sites that relate to your subject?  If so, include a few of them for the children to explore.  For example, if your subject is about GERMS, the children can play computer related learning games about washing their hands, or games put out by Universities, schools or health departments, etc.  Believe it or not, there are lots of computer games like this on the internet and my kids have learned a lot by playing them.

3)    Get togethers with friends and family can be another way to reinforce what you have learned.  You can share foods, customs, gifts, or displays of your projects that are based on your unit study. 

Some internet resources for FREE Unit Studies and Lapbooks:

My favorite unit study free resource.

My favorite lapbook and template free resource.

this is my site and I am beginning to post the units we study, and several I have made.


When buying pre-made units, you can buy study guides/manuals and worksheets in printed form, or you can save lots of money buying them on CD or in downloadable E-book format.  The added benefit of the CD and E-book is that they come with links to websites, blogs, videos, virtual field trips, quizzes, and more, as an added bonus.  You can copy off whatever parts, library lists, templates for crafts, coloring pages, notebooking, copy work, math, science, timelines, pictures, clip art, or worksheets you choose.  You can copy the whole thing and put it in a binder too.  I have been able to aquire many of these CD, download E-book format units on sale for $5.

My favorite authors to buy pre-made unit studies from currently include:

Amanda Bennett

Price range from $5 to $15.00  She runs a $5 sale every Friday.  She has written over 30 unit studies that last for four weeks; and has written over 40 unit studies that last one week.  Her four week studies are called Unit Studies and come in Cd-rom or download format.   Her one week studies are called Down Load and Go and are in download format.  I love her products.  They are very easy to teach and come with all the internet links, craft templates, worksheets, and lapbook templates you need for the study.  She really encourages making lapbooks as part of your unit study.

Hands Of A Child

Prices range from $5 to $35   They also run a $5 sale every week. They have free products too.  They have way to many products to mention.  Very professionally done.  They also sell lapbook kits to go along with the unit studies, or if you buy it on Cd-rom, it comes with the templates for lapbooking and crafts.  These are available in bound hard copy print, Cd-rom, and e-book /download formats.

They will also custom make unit studies for you for a reasonable fee.  So if you want to have a special one done, just let them know, and they will do exactly what you want.  The research they put into their products is hands down the best and most inclusive I have seen.

They also have a unit study co-op.  You take on a volunteer job, such as locating copy work for the study.  Others have various positions too, possibly as many as 12 or so jobs available.  Then everyone sends in their research.  The co-op then mails the completed unit study out to all the members.  A great resource if you have the time to participate.


Prices range from free, to $1, to $35.   I seldom spend more than $7 on an item though.  These are written by various professional publishing companies, and by teachers, and moms.  These are in download format only.

Homeschool Legacy

Priced around $25 and free shipping.  These are very nicely done.  And if you need to achieve badges in your scouts troop, these correspond to earning them.  They come in a hard copy and are ready to be put into a binder when you receive them.  Writen by Sharon Gibson who is a member of our local Hendersonville Homeschool Association.

Homeschool In The Woods

Prices range around $15 to $20 for unit studies.  These come in Cd-rom and download format.  They also offer some free products.  These are terrific.  The templates and graphics are fantastic.  They also have several other products, maps, activity packs and more and prices on these vary.   A wonderful product you and your kids will truly enjoy.


Some unit studies are so well done, from beginning to end, they captivate the childrens’ and parents’ interests.  I think it is crucial to keep mom interested too.  Her excitement helps build the anticipation and momentum of the learning atmosphere with the children.  If mom is bored, uninterested, or preoccupied, the potential of the moment will be missed.  I can’t say enough about this.  Unit studies really are fun for mom’s too!  When I put my energy into doing unit studies with my children, learning comes alive and is retained and becomes exciting for the whole family.  






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