Category Archives: Homeschool

Fall Tile Art At Homeschool Coop

Creating personalized seasonal art is a great activity to do as a homeschool project. We participated in this project for homeschool coop. My kids had a blast learning how to make Fall Tile Art and will treasure these creations for many years to come.

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To make the Fall Tile Art project, you will need to cut out pictures with a fall theme. This is fun for kids to do and gives the project a personal touch because they chose their own special pictures. We cut out our pictures from fall themed paper bags, but you could also use magazines, wrapping paper, or print them off the internet, etc. You will also need ceramic tiles, modpoge, small felt cushions that stick on one side and are soft on the other, and a sealant.

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Next have the kids place a rough draft of their pictures on their tile so they can see where they want to place them or if they want to change the arrangement. Once it is stuck in place, they won’t be able to change their mind, so now is the time to decide where they want to place their pictures.

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Next have the kids remove the pictures from the tile and place them in the same arrangement on the table. Then have the kids brush modpodge all over the tile. Next place the pictures back in place. Then they need to brush the tiles again a second time, with modpodge and gently brush over the top of the pictures. Set the tiles somewhere to dry. It took our tiles about an hour for the modpodge to dry. We let the kids play games in the gym and exercise while the tiles dried.

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When the tiles were dry, we added small cushions to the four corners of the back side. The cushions are made of felt and are very soft.  If you don’t have cushions, you could glue or stick on a piece of felt too.  Finally we applied a clear spray sealant over the tile. For safety (breathing, etc), the sealant was sprayed onto the tiles by an adult outside in an open area. The sealant will help these masterpieces resist moisture and last a long time.

The tiles are lovely to display, and could be given away as wonderful homemade gifts too.   They can be used to decorate your home for whatever season you chose as your theme.  You can display them flat, or hung up.  The cushions on the bottom should help protect your furniture from scratches, or you could display these in a picture easle, plate display holder, or hang them on the wall.  To hang them on the wall you will need to ad a picture mount of some kind.  If you wanted to keep your expenses down, you could hotglue on a soda can tab as a picture mount and it wouldn’t cost but a few pennies for the hot glue you use.

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Botanical Art At Homeschool Coop

We made the coolest Botanical Art project at Homeschool Coop.  This is such a great project to do with kids.  You can frame these, and hang them on your wall, or give these as gifts, or even use them to create other art projects with.  Or you could make really super-duper cool homemade wrapping paper too.

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We did this art project outside. You need to be outdoors or in a well ventilated area for this project as the spray paint has a strong odor and also can get blown around by wind. It is a good idea to take turns and not have too many kids spray painting at once and be sure they are spaced a little distance away from each other. Adult supervision and safety measures should be taken with a project like this.

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The kids picked out colored paper.  They also picked out various plants and flowers they wanted to use.

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They laid out newspapers on the ground and set their colored paper on the newspaper. Then they placed their plant of choice on the paper, and spray painted over it. After a minute or so, they carefully lifted off the plant from the paper and the result was a beautiful reverse silhouette of the plant.

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I love these beautiful masterpieces the kids made! I hope to get them framed for the wall in the near future.

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Hewitt Homeschooling Review


Hewitt Homeschooling has some great products for homeschool families. We are reviewing My First Reports: Bugs and Worms by Hewitt Homeschooling, and we are learning lots of great information and having fun at the same time.  If you are in the process of putting your curriculum choices together, I would encourage you to add products from Hewitt Homeschooling to the list.

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My First Reports

One unique product Hewitt Homeschooling offers is a curriculum supplement called My First Reports.  My first reports uses a step by step approach to help elementary age children learn about a subject they are interested in and write a report about it.

Skills used in My First Reports include:

Critical Thinking

There are several My First Reports to choose from and they are geared for different ages, but all are flexible and can be used for grades 1 – 8 depending on the skill level of your student.

My First Report: Music
My First Report: Transportation
My First Report: Weather
My First Report: Me
My First Report: Famous People
My First Report: Wild Animals / Large Mammals
My First Report: Wild Animals / Small Mammals
My First Report: Pets/Farm Animals
My First Report: Bugs and Worms
My First Report: Birds
My First Report: Reptiles/Amphibians
My First Report: Plants
My First Report: Solar System
My First Report: Marine Life
My First Report: Olympics
My First Report: Outdoor Activities
My First Report: Sports
My First Report: My State
My First Report: Eastern United States
My First Report: Western United States
My First Report: Middle United States
My First Report: Southern United States
My First Report: Lewis and Clark Expedition
My First Report: Focus On The World

You can purchase My First Reports individually for $8.95 , or buy 14 titles as a bundle for $69.95 and save nearly 40% off retail.


Our Experience:

Bugs and Worms

We chose My First Reports: Bugs and Worms for this review.  It is designed for kids in 3rd – 4th grades, but can be used for younger students in 1st-2nd grades or older students in 5th-8th grades too.  My First Reports: Bugs and Worms contains 52 pages including reproducible forms, worksheets, suggested reading and resources, and a unit study.

When we received the packet from Hewitt Homeschooling, I placed the pages into a binder.   The pages come already hole punched so you can put it into a three ring binder for convenience, or into your students completed notebook if you desire.  I am a unit study “collector”, or perhaps a unit study nerd might describe me better.   I guess and I love being able to insert them into a binder and keep them for future use.  If someday I pass along our schoolroom to my own grown kids, or to another family, hopefully all the unit studies we have acquired or created over the years will be easy to just grab and go because they are arranged neatly in their own binders.  You could fill a whole book shelf with them.  Ooohhh Awwhhhh.  Yep, I am a unit study nerd!


We were very excited about this curriculum.  This package covers information about 12 different bugs and worms:

Butterflies / Moths




Unit Study Approach

This set is designed to used for 12 weeks, in a unit study method, covering one bug or worm and corresponding worksheets and suggested activities per week.  Being a unit study, many different ages of kids can enjoy it, and it is cross curricular for many different subjects and covers:

Social Studies
Suggested Field Trips

DSC01754 (Picture my son took of hundreds of new born baby spiders emerging from their nest on a tiger lily).

During the process of learning about a bug or worm you will also do many activities mentioned in the accompanying unit study.  For example, various activities to choose from might include:  geography you will take a map of your state or a region and list bugs found there.  Younger students might cut out pictures and paste them on the map and older students would likely create a map and write a list of various insects identifying  them and their locations or to add in an art aspect, they might sketch them too.  In the bible they would learn about insects mentioned in various verses.  For reading and literature they would read various books, magazines, news articles, and poems about bugs.   For Language you would learn insect vocabulary words and spelling of each insect, as well as answer the report questions on the worksheets. You might create word puzzles and give an oral report too.  For Math, you put the insects in order based on a category such as length or color or weight ect.  Perhaps you could make a graph for comparisons.  You might calculate speeds and distance traveled or the amount of food they eat.  For Science you will make comparison graphs for body characteristics, learn about habitats and how to classify, catch-observe-release different insects when you are studying each one, etc.  One suggestion is to build a wormery when you study the worms section.  For art and science you might make a kite and then for P.E. you would go outside and fly it.  Also for P.E. you would take a hike through your neighborhood or a park to look for insects and study where they are found, what they sound like, etc.  For music you might study and recreate the sound of various insects, sing songs about insects and songs about creation including songs and praises to God.  Art has so many suggestions like making a spider web, visiting an art museum, making collages or mosaics, sculptures, and various crafts.  Field tips ideas include hikes or nature walks in various locations like parks, nature preserves, zoos, museums, the insect section of the library, a honey farm, or other farms where insects are used in some way, nature store, etc.


While learning about each “critter”, my 3rd grader completed a worksheet for each bug we learned about.  The worksheet includes a picture of the bug, its class and scientific order, vocabulary words, and several questions to research further.   He is encouraged to write complete sentences when answering the questions.  When the week of learning about the insect is complete, and he has answered all the questions, he can transfer that information into a finished report by using his answers to help create paragraphs for a report about the insect he is writing about.


I have always loved the hands on aspect of Field Trips.  My kids love the adventure and learning outside the classroom / house.  We took a field trip two weeks ago to the Creation Museum to learn more about the history of insects and see various species in their collections.








This is a great curriculum resource and I would encourage other homeschool families to work it into their learning adventures this school year.  My First Reports would also be a great adventure for summer school, Sunday School, or afterschool learning adventures too.

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Little House In The Big Woods Study Guide Review

For the past several weeks my kids have been learning about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder through the Little House In The Big Woods Study Guide by Progeny Press.  I was thrilled to learn that TOS was going to review a unit study based on Little House In The Big Woods.  I knew this was just the guidance we needed to maximize this learning experience.   

Little House In The Big Woods Study Guide
For Upper Elementary or Grades 3-5
Downloadable Interactive PDF Study Guide
Retails for $15.99
This is an interactive 56 page study guide.  You can fill in the blank on the computer, and save your work, or print it out and fill in the blanks and activities on paper.  It also comes with an answer key in a separate downloadable file.
Have you heard of Laura Ingalls Wilder?  Almost everyone has.  Little House In The Big Woods is on the library shelves of most homeschool families I know.  It is a mainstay in homeschooling, a right of passage so to speak for every homeschooler to read.  Last year we acquired our own copy of this wonderful book and I had big plans to use it for a unit study with our homeschool park group.  Then life happened, and we packed everything up and moved out of state. So our study on Little House In The Big Woods had to wait.
Laura lived from 1867 to 1957 and she wrote a series of stories about her life, and these stories were published in a series of nine books.  Her father was a pioneer and she moved several times as a child in the process of her dad securing food, areas to hunt, local work, or land to farm, until they eventually settled on a homestead.  Her stories have been compiled into books, a tv series, and movie.  There are several historical museums that honor her life in the towns where she lived.  I visited one of her childhood homes turned museum when I was growing up in Kansas.  She is an American icon.
This story shares the ups and downs of her family’s life on the frontier.  All of us can identify with growing up, and with relationship issues with family, friends, and neighbors.  But that is where much of the similarities end and a whole new adventure begins.  Laura grew up learning how to raise and hunt for food, trade and barter for things, bake, fish, travel by horse and buggy, and a one room schoolhouse, and other things most kids these days don’t experience on a day to day basis unless you are Amish.  
You can pick up a copy of her books at your local library, or find them online.  You might find them in used books stores too.  When writing this review I came across an audio rendition the book too.  If you have an audio learner, or just want to add another dimension to this learning experience by listening to the book being read outloud, here is a link to the audio of the first chapter. and additional chapters are available too.
For the purpose of this review, I had both my 11 and 13 year olds read the book and study guide.  Sometimes the younger children would sit on their lap or nearby and listen to them read too.  Though this study guide is for grades 3-5, it is very adaptable for other ages too.   However, I was not as organized as I wanted to be to work with the younger kids on this project so I just let the older two work on it with assistance from me when needed.

In the 1980’s a TV series was also made based on the stories of Laura’s life called Little House On The Prairie.  This was one of my favorite TV shows growing up.  I am sure it has been the favorite show for many Americans, especially from my generation. I am so excited it is still around and my kids can enjoy it too.  This year is the 40 year anniversary of this program and there was a recent news broadcast of the cast reunion and new high definition blue ray technology that has improved the entertainment experience.  I sure would like to get a hold of the new dvd’s and be able to watch episodes with no commercials.  This is going to enhance the experience a lot when we re-do this learning adventure and include these too.

There are so many fun activities listed in the Interactive Study Guide to make this learning adventure lots of fun in a hands on way.  Besides reading the book, listening to the book, and watching the hit TV show or a movie, they have listed lots of great activities through out the guide.

The Interactive Study Guide corresponds to the chapters in the book.  It has summaries, questions, bible verses, vocabulary, word puzzles, writing prompts, and suggestions for activities.  It suggests field trips such as visit a local cheese factory, maple syrup farm, chicken farm and see eggs processed,

carve soap, visit a museum, make homemade butter, make pancakes and johnny cakes, graph the weather, make a seasons collage calendar, visit a beekeeping farm and also eat some fresh honey, give a speech, write a report, etc.  

Some of the fun activities we did similar to Laura’s childhood experiences included gathering eggs from chickens, 

hunted for animal tracks in the back field and found dear, racoon, squirrel, rabbit, dog, and bird tracks.  We found Indiana crawfish holes in the mud, and in the picture above we also found a 3ft long snake.   
We went out several times and hunted for wild food and found asparagus, dandelion greens, and wild strawberries, but we did not find any mushrooms.  The wild mulberry trees have green fruit that will soon be ripe and ready to harvest too.
My boys love to whittle, and the study guide suggested whittling or carving soap with a dull knife, but my boys just wanted to carve lots of sticks with their pocket knives.  We did several cooking projects and made butter in a jar from cream, ground oats into flour, made pancakes (we used the blender because we don’t have an old fashion grain grinder), and ate local honey on fresh homemade biscuits.   I really wanted to tap the maple trees in the front yard a few months ago too, but we could not locate the equipment to borrow in time.  We heard from several folks who tap that it was not a good year for maple sap this year due to the long winter weather we had and it messed up the season’s harvest.

I think this study guide is adaptable and you could easily add a lot more fun hands on options to help kids relate to Laura’s childhood.  I plan to do this study again with my younger kids and do things like: read the bible or other book by candle light or lantern, grow a historical garden or a kitchen spice mini garden, make beef jerky, preserve food for winter, listen to someone play the fiddle or try to play one yourself, go fishing and cook your fish for dinner, visit a horse farm and watch them shoe horses and care for them, take a horse and buggy ride, visit a dairy farm and milk a cow or goat, harvest and grind corn or wheat or rye (get some grain still on the stock or cob, thresh the grain and remove corn from cob, grind it into flour and make something with it), dye yarn or cloth and weave it or make something like a rug or scarf, sew an apron, set up a barter with a neighbor (trade tomatoes or something you grew in exchange for eggs or sugar or flour, or trade your labor or the scarf you made for sugar or flour), butcher a chicken and cook it for dinner, render lard or beef tallow, split and stack firewood, visit a living history farm and learn how things were done in the 1800’s, and make a scrap book or lapbook to record all the fun activities and store the worksheets and questions you answered in the study guide, etc
The study guide has lots of character building opportunities through in depth questions about the story and characters.  It also has bible study in a section called Dig Deeper.  I really liked how it related scriptures, dilemmas in the story, and real life for my kids to tie it all together with their faith.  Here is an example of the dig deeper sections of the study guide.  This one is dealing with the character trait of envy, jealousy, revenge, and choosing what is right to do :
This is a great hands on Interactive Study Guide that helps bring the book Little House In The Big Woods to life and I definitely think it is a great addition to our homeschool learning.  I plan for our family to redo this study this fall with all the kids all together, and either read it to them or have them listen to the audio of the book and then I will read the study questions to them and we can discuss as a family.  I hope to spread out some of the activities and begin them this summer so that they can relate more to Laura’s character in the book.  I want the younger children to have the opportunity to benefit from this learning experience and we will repeat many of the activities in the study guide.  We will also set aside a regular time each week to watch the reruns of the hit TV program to enhance our learning experience.  I am very excited and I am sure the kids will be too.  

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Let It Snow

It snowed off and on in Indiana for several weeks from October to mid December.  I enjoyed the snow, but not the ice that also accompanied it.   

In early to mid December, we had a beautiful few days of snow with accumulation. Then a week of rain and warmer temperatures, followed by a week of cold temperatures.  By Christmas all the snow (and ice) was gone.  

It is amazing how fast it changes! Everything is temporary.  How could our frozen landscape disappear?  I thought for sure we would have a white Christmas and the landscape would look like this until the spring thaw!  Who knew the spring thaw would happen a week before Christmas?  

While the beautiful snow lasted, the kids enjoyed sledding, exploring a frozen and fluffy landscape and the properties of snow, and building with the snow. 

They love to be outside, and they had a lot of fun playing in the snow.

For several days in a row they made giant size snow balls.  

And hauled snow on sleds over to where they were making a snow fort.  My eight year old son and six year old daughter joined as a team and made a snow fort out of hundreds of small snow balls stacked ontop of each other.  Then they used their gloves to shape the walls as they built them.  They ended up with four walls waist high when they were done.  I could not believe how well coordinated they were to build their fort.  Well done kiddos!

And another snow fort used a shovel, sled, and a plastic box to create snow bricks. 

One son took over where another one left off because he got too cold and went inside to warm up.    He scooped up snow with a snow shovel.  Then he packed and pressed the snow into the plastic box.  When he did this very far from the fort, he then used the sled to haul his box of snow back to the fort.  

Then dumped the pressed snow bricks onto the wall he was building.  He really enjoyed building with the snow.

If we get a chance to build snow bricks again, I think we will take squirt bottles with water and food coloring and spray the bricks different colors next time.  This was a fun building project.  I have challenged the bigger boys to try to engineer arches into their walls next time too.  We could also guestimate square footage and lineal footage too.

Both forts were fun to build and the kids put in lots of hard work to create them.   Both teams built a stack of snow balls for ammunition too.  They had a blast with their snow ball fights and hiding behind their fort walls.   However, the fun was short lived because after two days of building and playing, the freezing rain came and turned everything into a solid sheet of ice.  Their snow ball stashes became solid as rocks.  They made the mistake of throwing one of these at a sibling the next day, and it was so painful that no one had fun and they quickly came back inside.  The freezing rain gave way to just more rain and the temperatures warmed up and everything the kids had built soon disappeared.

About the same time the snow disappeared, the kids came down sick with a respiratory virus and it has been a rough three weeks so far, and it looks like there is a week yet to go.  It started with one child, and he seemed to be the only one with it for almost a week, then boom, one by one everyone else (except our daughter) came down with it.  Playing outside in the cold building their forts, and perhaps lowering their body temperature some and breathing all that cold air, may have made them more susceptible to the virus taking hold, but I don’t know.  We also have not had the protection of raw milk in our diet for several months, so I believe this has also lowered our immunity some.  Raw milk provides oligosaccharides that bind virus and bacteria and also natural vit D, vit C, CLA, vit K, and a whole bunch of other protective qualities.  We truly miss our raw milk and are looking forward to either getting a dairy cow, or finding a source for raw milk soon.  And since we are in a different state with different folks and different illnesses, it just seems our bodies need time to adjust too.  We also heard today that our state has some of the worst cases of the flu in the nation so far this winter.  

So for the past two weeks for all the kids, and three weeks for one of the boys, we have stayed bundled up inside, going through fevers, coughing, and very bored.   We have watched Christmas movies, played games, built with Legos, and read books an
d they are bored.  They miss playing outside.  The kids are begging for more snow and for their colds to go away so they can get back to playing.  Thankfully they had Christmas to look forward too and that kept us going with hope.  It seems to take a full two weeks of yucky symptoms to get on top of this illness.  Most of the children are over the worst part of the virus now except the oldest. The oldest son seems to have the worst case of it.  It is very hard for him to cough it out and he had the highest and longest days of fever than the rest.   As a parent, it hurts to watch your children suffer and go through illness.  I want to take the pain away for him.  
He started the symptoms exactly seven days ago, and I hope he shows improvement and gets better in the next few days.
Everyday the children anticipate more snow.  I have even heard a couple of them pray for snow.  I say “let it snow”, but please “don’t let it ice”!  

 “Let It Snow”.  
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Fundanoodle Review

Oh where does the time go?  I can’t believe my son is already preschool aged!  It seems like it was yesterday that he was a toddler.  He is growing so fast and he loves learning.  He is so proud to be a big boy and have his own school work.  He has been having so much fun using Fundanoodle products in our homeschool learning adventures.  

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He is using three of the ORANGE Level Fundanoodle products:  I can Cut;  I Can Do Math Level 1;  and Max and Alphies Adventures Level 1 .

I really like these activity books too, partly because my son likes them so much, and partly because they are produced on heavy quality paper, each book is spiral bound, and they all have a hardback. 


This makes them very user friendly for a preschooler.  They are portable too and we can use them at the table, on the floor, outside on the porch, or take them in the car if we want too.  We are using these activity books for 20 minutes every day, and my son loves them!  He loves them so much that he begs to do his school work!

I Can Cut

I Can Cut
Tablet and Safety Scissors: Level 1
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $7.99

My son is learning proper cutting skills as he snips and cuts his project pages.  The scissors work for both left and right handed kids.  My son is left handed and had no trouble. This activity book is full of different cutting exercises that help develop eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.  He is also learning to cut along the boundaries and getting better at holding his paper still.  He is so proud of his skills and doing a good job.  I can see he is becoming more confident in this task, and this book makes it really fun for him.

I Can Do Math

I Can Do Math Level 1
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $5.99

He is so excited about math!  He is constantly telling me the new numbers he has counted.   In this book he is learning while he colors and counts and is having fun with math.  He is learning numbers (1-10), number words, shapes and lots of math skills for preschoolers.  I am so proud of his accomplishments!  And he is too!


Max & Alphie’s Adventures!

Max & Alphie’s Adventures! Activity Book 1 
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $5.99

Max (a monkey) and Alphie (a boy) are two friends that love learning adventures.  My son can really relate to Alphie.  This activity book is full of fun and I am sure your child will enjoy it just as my son has.  This activity book is designed to improve hand control and endurance, build confidence and develop fine motor skills. My son has had a lot of fun learning with this activity book.  He enjoys connecting the dots, navigating mazes, finding hidden objects and coloring.  He is learning to stay within visual boundaries too.


Preschool age children learn best by “doing”, and playing, and being active.  These products are great for building confidence, problem solving, following directions, and hands on skills with crayons, scissors, and learning skills such as counting, color recognition, number and letter recognition.   But just remember, preschoolers do not need to spend a lot of time doing activities at a table.  Use your own judgement, but I would limit preschool age coloring / writing / math / painting / etc. practice time (fine motor and writing) to 20 minutes maximum at the table, and then have them take a break.  Some ideas are to have them do something that involves movement such as: play games outside, play inside, jump, dance, catch or kick a ball, etc.

We think Fundanoodle is not just a funny word, but also a fun way to learn!  Be sure to follow Fundanoodle for great ideas using their products on their Blog,  Facebook, and Pinterest and check into their on-going contests.  Fundanoodle is so much fun!


Stop by to read what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Fundanoodle activity books and learning kits.

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Home Schooled

Each year I contemplate “Is Homeschooling the best choice for our family?” and “What do I want to achieve in teaching my kids at home?”  I spend time in prayer, asking God for wisdom for the coming year and it’s challenges.  

We set goals and look for curriculum resources that line up with our goals.  I will share our curriculum choices for this year in a future post.  Sometimes, I question if we are headed in the direction that is most beneficial. Sometimes, we go all year with the original choice.  Then sometimes we change direction with curriculums and schedules midyear, and go with different ones if the need arises.  I love having the freedom to choose and to make adjustments when needed. 

Alot of people think homeschoolers are geeks, nerds, or odd, etc.  That is ok with me.  I am glad that my kids don’t have to deal with the constant peer pressure from others in the public school system to be a certain way, dress a certain way, or join a certain group, or clubs and sports.  We join clubs, participate in sports, or choose to do activities and things we enjoy, not because we are pressured by others to do so.  It makes life much easier and enjoyable to live this way.  The public school is such an artificial setting and puts unreal pressure on kids and teachers to conform.  I am thankful for our freedoms.

As I was making plans for this homeschool year, and again, going over decisions and choices to be made and wondering how it will all turn out, I came across this info graphic on Homeschool Statistics and outcomes.  It is amazing!

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

Those are amazing statistics, don’t you think?  The site that put this together promotes college masters in education degrees. This article is listed as one of their most popular articles.  It was very encouraging to read.  Homeschooled children can and do excel in our nation, in their homes, colleges, communities, and productivity as citizens.  Homeschooling is a viable, productive, awesome choice for education. 

As I pray about and contemplate homeschooling and various curriculums, I have always come away from that inner conversation each year with a “YES” answer.  Yes, I believe we are making the right choice to homeschool our family.
  Yes, Yes, Yes, I am glad our kids are HOME SCHOOLED!

Praise the Lord! 

I am excited that we are a Homeschool Family! 

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Free Online Constitution Class

I signed up my kids for this FREE online class. I wanted to let you know about it too. Below is the post I recieved inviting folks to join. Hope reposting it here will help more folks find out about great educational resources to enrich your homeschool learning adventures.

Calling All Patriots:

Constitution Day 2013 is coming, and we have a lot to celebrate!

Email subscribers get free enrollment in my live, online Constitution Celebration course on September 17, 2013.

a $10 value — free for subscribers

Gather with us in the virtual town square to honor the oldest surviving constitution in the world! We’ll explore the lives and times of the men and women who helped form this magnificent document.

I’ll show you how to play some of the games that families played at the time of our nation’s founding — I’ll even show you how to make your own games to play at home!

Join in the Online Class — Constitution Celebration


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10:00 a.m. PT/ 11:00 a.m. MT/ noon CT/ 1:00 p.m. ET

This live, online class will last for one hour and is great for the whole family.

What students will discover at this event

  • the purpose of government
  • what is liberty
  • rights and responsibilities
  • why a Constitution?
  • why a Bill of Rights?
  • the need for checks and balances
  • how to make a Betsy Ross ‘one cut’ star
  • games and crafts that kids played in the 1700′s

Your whole family will enjoy this Constitution Celebration!

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Schoolhouse Expo

Don’t forget to register for the Schoolhouse Expo webinar!

The Schoolhouse Expo is coming up August 19th through the 23rd. 

Schoolhouse Expo

Be sure to register for your tickets!  Cost is $24 and you can attend all 5 days.

It is hosted as a webinar so you can attend right from your own home.  You don’t have to sit at the computer either.  You can listen in from 1 pm (12:30 pm) to 8 pm EDT as you go about your daily tasks if you want.  You can also “chat” online with the presenters too during question and answer sessions. 

30 Awesome Homeschool Speakers will be hosting workshops through out the webinar. Here are just a few names of the wonderful speakers:

Diana Waring
Dr. Jay Wile
Dean Butler
Adam Andrews
Todd Wilson
Ray Comfort
Carol Topp
Heather Laurie
Malia Russell
Andrew Pudewa
Jessica Hulcy
David C. Gibbs III
Hal & Melanie Young
Kim Kautzer
Davis Carman
Evonne Mandella
Terri Johnson
Tyler Hogan
Andy Harris
Marie Rippel
Deborah Wuehler

And MORE !!!

Disclaimer: This is a promotional post, with admission to the Expo as my reimbursement.  All opinions expressed are my own personal opinion.

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Make Do

So what do you do when you don’t have XYZ?   You MAKE DO!  

Let’s face it, you can’t always get what you want when you want it.  Or haven’t you learned that yet? 

I learned this lesson at a very young age.  My dad used to frequently tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff” meaning don’t worry about things I can’t change and things that in the bigger picture of life really are not that important.

I want my children to learn this lesson while they are young too. I hope that by teaching them while they are young, and leading by example, and as they watch me and my husband cope with difficult circumstances in our adult life where we have no choice but to go without the things we want, or making do with what we have (and do it with a joyful heart), will make a positive impact on them and give them coping skills to handle whatever situations they face in their life.

“It’s healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up”.
                                                                 Proverbs 14:30

Sometimes accepting that I will have to “make do” means saving my sanity too.  No point in throwing a fit about it.  Just accept it for the time being, “make do” or make the best of the situation and the resources I have, and go forward.  If I waste my energy on pouting or throwing a tantrum, I miss my blessing.  I tell myself that someday I will improve the circumstances if I am able, but until then, be happy.

Our current season of life finds us “making do” with what we have and living without what we don’t have.  I won’t mention all of the wants, but one want / need we have is a backyard grill for our large family of eight people.  We would love to have a grill to enjoy summer cooking outside. 

About two months ago, we moved from North Carolina to Indiana.  The old farmhouse in Indiana is hot this summer.  I leave the kitchen door open most of the time, because it is so hot in the kitchen.  The kitchen is small.  It was a porch at one time in history, before indoor plumbing, and then was enclosed and plumbed probably in the 1930’s or so to become an indoor kitchen.  It is somewhat frustrating for me to cook in it as I was used to a big modern kitchen, with nice appliances, and lots of counter space for food prep with room still leftover for several small appliances in my previous home.  I also had a separate but adjoining dining room so the food was prepared in one area, and eating could take place a few feet away.  We enjoyed this lifestyle as homeschoolers, because we use our table not only for eating, but also for school work too, so I could cook or prep food in one area and all six of the kids could study and or play at the table and we had plenty of room for everyone. 

I am not complaining, but just pointing out the facts as they are.  Being in the small kitchen cooking, or at the kitchen table, means we are all on top of each other.  Literally, we are elbow to elbow in the kitchen.   I find myself in a very old house with almost no electrical outlets, poor lighting, and the kitchen feels like a dungeon.  It is not convenient at all. 

I have two feet of counter space to the left and to the right of the sink, and I bump into the table behind me every at every turn.  And sitting at the table means your back is to the wall on one side, and bumping into the oven door or fridge door when they are opened on the other side.  I currently can’t even imagine how I am going to use the table for school work too.  I feel like I am in a camper with the burden of cooking for a large family and don’t have access to what I need.  By the time you have the coffee pot, a mixer or bowl, and if there are any dishes on the counter to be hand washed, there is no room left for food prep.  There is no dishwasher, microwave, or nice appliances, and gasp. . . no ice maker or water dispenser in the fridge door either.  Nope, NADA!  

And did I mention it is HOT!??   It makes more sense to cook outside than inside right now in the hot summer.  But we don’t have a grill and we don’t have the budget for one at this time either.   What little money we have had has gone to cover basic needs for food, gas, bills, and the garden seeds, and a few fruit trees / plants for the orchard.   In this season of our life, there are many needs and plenty of wants going unmet. 

One thing is for sure, when you accept your circumstances, you can deal with them better.  If you fight, pout, and are frustrated about your circumstances, it makes it all that much harder to live with.  

I am so thankful for my family, even with the demands of caring for a large family.  My kids can be a great source of encouragement in this whole thing, because they are resilient, and optimistic.  They may need a little “get over it” time too, but eventually they come around to the idea of let’s “make do”.  As long as you are together, and have each other to build one another up, you can get through it. 

It is tough!  I am not going to lie!  It is not easy to set aside your wants.  And it is hard to watch those you love suffer, struggle, or go without.

Evaluate What You Have On Hand To Use

So. . . what to do. . .what to do. . .?

First I need to look at the resources I have on hand, and then I can MAKE DO! 

If I want to cook outside, but don’t have a grill, why not cook on an open fire?  For thousand years my ancestors cooked on open fires.  They didn’t have grills, gas ovens, crock pots, or electric stoves.  Yet they succeeded in feeding large families with the resources they had.

Well, in theory that sounds good, but in practice cooking on an open fire presents some challenges: a steep learning curve if you have never cooked out in the open, safety for the cook, safety for the bystanders, keeping a constant source of heat or temperature, preventing food from burning, and food from falling into the fire and being covered in ashes, etc.  It is definitely challenging, but if I can manage those challenges then I can “make do”.

Resources I have on hand to cook a meal outside:

            -open space in the backyard
            -shovel to maneuver hot rocks, hot bricks, and charred wood that is on fire
            -tree limbs: maple, apple, mulberry, etc.
            -matches to start a fire
            -foil to provide some protection for food that can burn easily or food that
                 needs to steam in its own juice
            -a pocket knife to whittle wooden spears to hold food over the fire
            -fresh garden produce
            -bread and buns

With these resources we were able to build wonderful camp fires in the evenings when daddy got off work, and cook fresh food for several delicious and fun family dinners. 

In the meal pictured below, we roasted fresh corn on the cob, roasted fresh red potatoes with onions and zucchini that was just harvested from the garden before going on the fire, and uncured all natural beef hot dogs cooked by the kids skewered on our wooden spears.

Within a few weeks of learning to cook on the fire, we acquired a new resource: a grate to place over the open fire to cook on.  I was so excited about this “step up” !   I had looked and looked at newspapers, online sources, etc. to try to find a free grill someone was getting rid of, even if nothing on it could be used except the grate, or one that could be bought very cheap. But as the weeks went on through the summer, I could not find one, not even one to recycle.

After a few times of cooking on hot rocks and bricks and spears made of sticks, we finally acquired a grate we found on clearance while grocery shopping.  We now have a wonderful grate to put over the fire for under $10 and and a couple of metal
spear/forks for $2 to spear the food if desired, and this made cooking over the fire much easier.  Total investment was around $14.  We had the bricks already on hand from an old foundation we recycled that was under a shed we took down on the farm.  We made side walls with the bricks by stacking them two bricks high and the bricks helped to keep a hot fire going by retaining a lot of the heat and preventing the fire from spreading out to much, and also helped to hold the cooking grate.  I am very thankful for the upcycled bricks.


Cooking over a wood fire is lots of work!  It takes diligence to gather sticks to build the fire, and constant stoking the fire, and time to monitor the fire so it is just right to cook on.  About an hour or more of work goes into making the wood fire before we can place food on it.   And there are a few dangers to keep in mind at all times, especially with young kids around, and if the fire flairs up unexpectedly while you are leaning over it!

Though we have been “making do” without a modern grill this summer, we have a good attitude about it.  We are enjoying our time together, and enjoying learning the ongoing process of getting by and making the most of what we do have.  We are especially enjoying learning the delicious art of cooking over a wood fire outdoors.  No grilling we have ever done EVER, has tasted this good! 

The food is juicy and has a delicious flavor infused with the smoke from the apple, maple, and mulberry tree limbs we are burning.   If you enjoy apple wood smoked bacon, smoked meats like maple wood smoked turkey or smoked brisket, then you will enjoy the flavors of this style of cooking.  It is very exciting to the nose and the tastebuds.

All of the ingredients in this dinner (except the bun, hotdogs, and the beef), were picked fresh just a few minutes before grilling them. 

The fresh
veggies in our meal include:
            next to the bun (potatoes, greenbeans, Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots, acorn
            inside the burger (Jalapeno, Cilantro, shallots)
            and on the burger (lettuce leaves, sliced radishes, yellow tomato, and onion), 

Though this dinner was cooked outside over an open fire, this meal was restaraunt quality, there is no doubt about it!  Pictured below here is garden fresh red potatoes and green beans, acorn squash, and a delicious garden fresh sirloin burger.

Our country has been so blessed to have easy access to so much modern technology and appliances.  These modern conveniences have made cooking easier for our generation.  Past generations had a much more challenging time preparing foods and cooking delicious meals for their families.  Yet they learned to master the art of cooking both outdoors and indoors (in fire places) over an open fire. 

I am excited to post some upcoming stories about outdoor cooking over the open fire that we have been enjoying this summer.  Stay tuned and I will share with you some delicious foods you can easily cook in your own backyard with your kids and you can make them on the grill, in an electric skillet, or on the campfire. 

Meanwhile, I encourage you to embrace the circumstances you find yourself in during different seasons of life.  Give “making do” a go and I am sure you will get through the toughest of times.  It will inspire you and your family to keep believing that one day the circumstances will change and they will be able to get the things that are needed and wanted, but for now we can and will endure with with a joyful heart what we have on hand.  We can “make do”.

What ways are you making do in your life?  Have you shared this experience with your children?  Please share your comments below.  Thank you.

This post will be linked up with:
Raising Homemakers
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