Category Archives: Fourth Grade

Spelling With Beads

                              Beads Are A Literacy Tool

Whats In The Workbox?  Beads

Beads are a really neat medium for arts and crafts.  You can do so many things with them.  They are also really useful for teaching math, colors, sorting, and patterning concepts.   They can also help strengthen a child’s eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, and more.  But did you know they could also be used for literacy?

My ten year old son, does not like to write.  He loves to talk.  He will dictate a story for you to write.  He loves to draw.  He loves word puzzles, word search and crossword puzzles.  He loves to read and gets in plenty of reading time.  He loves math, and is a whiz at it.  His favorite subject is science and engineering.  But he doesn’t want to write sentences or work on spelling words. 

His test scores are high in every category, except when it comes to spelling.  I know this is normal for a boy of his age, and I choose not to worry about it.

I was brainstorming how I could incorporate more fun ways for him to work with letters. He loves legos and working with his hands.   So rather than writing worksheets, spelling tests, or journaling which he just doesn’t seem ready for, I was trying to think of other ways to build his word skills, including typing on the computer, magnetic letters, letter puzzles, letter tiles, and such. 

When we were at the local craft store, I found some really nice alphabet beads.  I bought a package of colored alphabet beads for $4.   I figured I would get him involved making something with letter beads.  Even if he didn’t want to, at least I could use them with the younger kids.

I wasn’t sure how my son would take to this activity, but he surprised me and was very interested.  At first I told him I needed his help sorting them and spelling a word for the younger kids so they can get used to how it is spelled. 

( I know, I should be re-named the sneaky mother, as I am always finding ways to get him to participate even if it is a subject he hates.  You should see what I sneak into his meat loaf!  But it works with him and with his dad and siblings too.  His personality is geared so that if I say I could really use his help, he will help even if it is a task he doesn’t like.  His younger siblings?  Forget it.  You could beg and plead and if they don’t want to, they won’t!  It takes lots of different “sneaky” strategies to make this house of seven flow.)

We are doing activities this month with the color “green” and I asked him to find the letters to spell “green” for me.  As I mentioned, these letters were going to be used later in a letter activity with the younger kids.

He organized the whole container of beads by color, and found all the letters for the word “green”.  He attempted the words of the other colors, but there was not enough letters to spell the colors.  I was proud of him, as I didn’t ask him to go to that step.  So, now I knew this was a manipulative that was peaking his interest.

After sorting out the colors and the word “green”, we put the other beads away.  I gave him some cord and pony beads, and clear beads and he strung a necklace.  He counted how many pony beads he wanted on each side. Then how many clear beads to place next to each letter bead and he came up with a nice pattern.

As he worked, he changed his mind a few times and unstrung the beads.  Then he started over with counting and spacing them again.

He was really proud of the outcome.  He especially likes it if he thinks it was all his idea. Shhhhhh.  We won’t tell him he was set up…

He remade this again, taking it all apart and adding in black pony beads.  You can see that version in the middle of the table below.

His brothers also wanted to work with the beads and spelling words, so we brought out a package of black and white alphabet beads also purchased from the same store for around $4.

This turned out to be a very good activity for boys.  I knew girls enjoy making necklaces, but I never thought my boys would enjoy it and want to wear them.  This is really a great activity for boys and girls.  I think using colors that appeal more to boys, and using alphabet letters, made it seam like a guy thing.  I am sure if we were using pink, purple, and delicate colors and flowers, my boys would not have been very interested.

In the picture below, the six year old is making a necklace with a message for his dad.  We talked about making a pattern.  He doesn’t yet have the insight to make the pattern first in his mind.  He needs to lay out the parts and then follow the steps.  Where the ten year old is able to see the pattern in his head and work from there.


The eight year old could not quite get the concept that if he picked up the necklace, before tying an end closed, his beads were going to slide off.  I bet we picked up his beads at least a dozen times.

For some reason, he wanted to show me the necklace he made in a vertical position.  Yep, you guessed it.  Beads went everywhere over and over.  He just wanted to hold it this way, but would forget to hold on to the bottom, at all times.  Once he let go, we had beads all over the room.  (I think he might have enjoyed this.)

When the ten year old had a huge array of alphabet letters to work with, his language skills really started to show.   He made up all sorts of words, quickly and easily.  Then he used two pipe cleaners, and put on the words “Back Jack”.  Then he started chuckling and adding more beads and presented me with his funny necklace “Back Jack This Means You”.  He laughed and laughed.  I am not sure why it was so funny.

He continued making more words with the letters.  I it was really obvious this was working as a learning tool for him.

Later that night, he wore his creation to the 4 H meeting.  (To my horror. I hope
d no one would see it as disrespectful, because that wasn’t his intention, he just thought it was funny.)   But he was so proud of his creation, I just couldn’t say no when he asked if he could wear it to the meeting.

Making beaded necklaces was a great activity, because various skill levels can participate and still have fun.

All of the boys had a lot of fun.  We will definitely make this a regular activity in our workboxes.  I would like to create spelling worksheets or various printables to go along with this. 

I will keep you posted.

How do you incorporate words with your reluctant speller? 
Leave a comment.  Thank you!

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Music From The Heart

I love music.

I believe reading music and participating in music (vocally, instrumentally, or listening appreciation) is an important skill and experience to learn.  In addition to my own personal beliefs about the positive aspects of music, I have read many studies that talk about proof in improvement in test results and many other areas such as math and logic, when music is part of a young persons interests.

I have shared my love for music with my children.  Since they were in my womb, I would sing to them.  As they grew, through out the day we would spend time singing a song or listening to music.  They have grown up with music around them.  Not performances.  Just simple, enjoyable music.

I have set up a corner of the living room with a guitar, piano, drums, violin, and stereo.  I am teaching the children how to hold a tune, keep a beat, read music, harmonize, and  more. 

My father loved music.  He could play 20 different instruments though his favorite was the guitar.   I remember the first time I seen my dad play a french horn.  I was in total shock that he knew how to do this.  His mom was a skilled musician, vocally, and played the piano, organ, and fiddle. She continues to write music and perform with the Golden Follies.  She is now in her 80’s.    She sang professionally on the radio just before getting married and World War II.   She shared that love for music with my dad.    He used to lead music in church when I was growing up.  Latter, he used to perform at the Saturday night Granby O’l Opree, (it has another name, but it escapes me at the time of writing this.  But its a place that serves up all sorts of County, Blue Grass, and Old Time Gospel Music).

One day, Dad stopped to help a fellow who broke down on the side of the road.  He helped him get his vehicle fixed.  The fella wanted to pay my dad.  Dad said “No money necessary, but it that a fiddle I see in the back seat?  Could we play a few songs?”  As they visited, he learned the man played professionally with the Roy Clark band from HEE HAW.  Dad recorded their time they spent playing their instruments and singing.  A few years later, when dad died, my brother gave us each a tape of the music.  What a treasure.  Dad was so happy when he was singing and playing.

When I was a child, besides singing to us and playing his guitar, he encouraged us children to choose an instrument and learn to play it.  My sister and I chose the clarinet.  My brother chose the violin and later the trumpet.  We all enjoyed music.  Our favorite thing to do as a family was to sing.  We would each harmonize acappella with each other achieving three and four and sometimes five part harmonies if Grandma and Dad were with us.  It was a beautiful family tradition to sing when ever we were together.

I took lessons in childhood, in highschool, and as an adult.  I played in band.   I vocally performed in high school and college.  I have performed for free, and for money.  I have sang in choirs.  I have sang in musicals.  I have sang in an opera.  I have played my instrument at ball games, and sang in talent shows.  I have sang at weddings and funerals.  I have sang and played my instrument in church as part of the praise team.  For years I lived and breathed all things music.  My husband played the trumpet in elementary and highschool.  Later he ran the sound board for the praise team at church.  He comes from a musical family too.  It seems just natural that we would want to pass on our enjoyment of music to our kids too.

I want my kids to learn music and feel free to chose an instrument to learn, if they desire.  Other than voice and clarinet, I don’t feel qualified to teach the other instruments.  So I have kept my eye out for lesson opportunities.  Unfortunately music lessons are very expensive, and at this point, my budget does not have room for them.

My older boys have requested to learn the guitar to start with.  Guitar lessons in our area run $80 and up, a month for 1/2 hour weekly lessons. 

Recently, I found out about a wonderful guitar teacher who offers the first six one hour beginner lessons free.  Then leaves it up to you to decide if you want to continue.  He truly wants kids to be exposed to music and get a taste for this instrument.  How wonderful is that?  I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to get professional lessons for my older boys.

Michael Ridenour, owner of the Guitar Academy Of Western North Carolina offers this special program to new guitar students.  You can read more about his company here:

We took the first one hour lesson yesterday.  Wow.  I am truly impressed with the level of patience, and clarity of his teaching he gave the children. 

He seemed to intuitively recognize my boys had two different learning styles.  One is a left brained learner and one is a right brain learner.  One learned visually and auditory by watching and listening and copying what he heard, and the other learned by reading facts and details and applying them with guidance from the teacher when needed.

He kept their attention the whole hour (wish I could always do that).  It was like he reached into their mind and turned on a light bulb of understanding about this wooden object with strings and nobs.  Suddenly they could associate the note on the page with the sound singing from their guitar.  It made sense. 

I was one happy mommy.   He did in one hour what I, and a DVD, have been trying to do off and on for the past six months.  He knew the instrument and how to convey learning to play it right down to the smallest details.  I am so glad he offered this class, and we are able to participate.

The three younger children and I hung out in the sitting area listening to the lesson with other homeschooling families.  It was a very good experience for all.

Music From The Heart

Though I am excited to be able to get lessons for my children, I want most of all to teach them about music from the heart.

I don’t believe I have to force my children to daily practice a musical instrument for multiple hours to excel in it, and be “the best” at it.  I don’t plan to take them to competitons for the purpose of beating the sox off of the next guy who practiced till his fingers bled, because his parents needed to justify paying out a fortune for his lessons.  Or win against the girl who lost her voice from practicing over and over only to have it barely come back for the competition.  Nope.  Not interested.  There is no freedom in any of that.  Yes there are skills they can learn from practicing and
from competitions.  But for me, the music goes beyond the trophy from the win and name recognition.

I don’t seek any gratification from what my children can do to impress others with their talents, including music.

That statement may offend some, and to each his own.  I am not dogging anyone if that is the path they choose for their family.  

I have been there and done that, first hand, and I know what it is about. 

This is how I believe.

You see, I believe music comes from the heart. 

These things, lessons, practices, performances, and the like, are all fine. 

But that is not the true music I want to ultimately teach my kids.  Those things (professional lessons, performances, competitions, paid gigs,  a job in the music field, etc) may happen one day for my kids, but I want them to be just a side effect, so to speak, of the true music I want to teach them.

I want something more.  I want to teach them about music from the heart.

Music from the heart is not from a performance.  It is not from a competition.  It is not from expensive lessons.  It is not from anything other than time alone with Father God, singing and playing your instrument for Him, and to Him.

Ephesians 5:15-20

Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                        verse is from

May we all learn to make music from the heart to the Lord!

Be blessed!!!

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Whats In The Box? A Space Shuttle Puzzle

What’s in the 4th grade box today?

2 lessons of Language Arts, 1 lesson in Math, 1 Science experiment, and a Puzzle.

This is a huge Space Shuttle Puzzle kit.

This puzzle comes with two 3 foot long puzzles, and an extra cockpit, a satellite, and several astronauts to play with.

This fourth grader is up for the challenge.  As a matter of fact, puzzles are one of his favorite activities.

Some of the astronauts are dressed for inside the shuttle.  Some other astronauts have tools in their hands to repair the shuttle or the satellite as needed.

One of the puzzles has all the stages of take off, flight, and landing on the moon, and explains what happens along the way.  This is a really nice puzzle set.

Puzzles are really good for eye hand coordination, problem solving, color matching, shape matching, and they help build stronger brain connections for future use.  I am so pleased that my kids enjoy puzzles, and I secretly know it is good for them.   Shhhh, don’t tell!

Do your kids like puzzles?

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Snow Science The Rate Of Snow Melt


For this experiment our second and fourth graders measured the rate of snow melting in jars, inside our house that was 67 degrees fahrenheit.

Have the children make a hypothesis about how fast snow melts inside your house, how fast it melts if it has salt mixed in, how fast it melts with water mixed in. 

Conduct an experiment to test their theory/hypothesis.

You will need three clean quart jars.
Measuring Cup.
Sea Salt.
Measuring Stick.
Watch to keep time.
Pencil and paper to record your observations.  I made a printout for this experiment for the children to fill in.

Collect your snow and bring it inside.

It also helps to have some great assistants!

Fill your jars with snow.

Mark or label your jars with numbers 1, 2, and 3.

Measure the height of the snow in each jar.  Be sure they are identical to start your experiment.

Record your measurements.

Take the temperature of each jar of snow. 

Record your measurements.

Now you are ready to add the other ingredients.

Into jar 1, add 3 tablespoons of salt.
Into jar 2 add 1/4 cup water.
Put nothing into jar 3, as it is your control.

Continue to take measurements every 30 minutes for the next four hours.  Some surprising temperature readings were 7 and 3 degrees below zero.  I did not expect the snow to be that cold.   (Ok, the waiting part is boring to wait for the clock to change over each time.  Perhaps a game of checkers will distract the mind from the torture.)

Each time you will remeasure the height of the snow, the height of the water or melted snow rising in the bottom of your jars, and take the snow’s temperature for each jar.  Record the time of each measurement.

Finally write out your observations and conclusion to your experiment.

We found the snow with the salt melted the fastest.  The snow in the control melted the next fastest.  But the snow that had the water added melted the slowest.  The water seemed to keep the temperature colder and slightly protected the snow from melting as quick as the other jars.

There was still a small bit, maybe a teaspoon, of ice in the cold water in each jar the following morning.   The cold water continued to help insulate it and keep it from melting completely for several hours.

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Snowman Craft

Want to build a snowman without getting cold?

Try this fun craft.

You will need construction paper, copy paper, three circle shapes of different sizes, scissors, glue stick, pencil, and a great big smile.

We did this activity with tot school, preschool, kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade.

Tear off a strip of white copy paper to make snow on the ground of your picture. 

Glue the snow ground onto the construction paper background color of your choice.  My 3 year old chose light blue to represent the color of the sky outside our window. 

Trace the three circle shapes onto the white paper.  We talked about how the circles were small, medium, and large.   I helped my daughter hold the shape with one hand and used my other hand to help her hold the pencil as we went around the shape.

I cut out the circles for her. 

Later we took a practice piece of paper and she practiced tracing circles and cutting them out on her own.  They did not quite look like circles when whe was done, as she did not have the control to turn the scissors to follow the curve.  She was a little frustrated that she could not recreate the cut out circle, but I reminded her with practice, she will be able to do it.

She did a very good job gluing on her circles.

Well, in her mind, all snowmen are really snow women, and she asked for pink and red for her snow person.

She decided on a pink hat, pink buttons, pink scarf, red mittens, and red shoes.

Meet Mrs. Snow Woman!

I helped her make some snow flakes, and snowman details. 

She glued everything on herself except for the mouth.  She did a great job.

Variation to what my 3 year old did, was to take my 2 year old’s hand with a blue crayon turned on its side, and drag it across the white paper.  This gave the page a blue and white color pattern and was great fun for him.  Then he glued his circles onto his snowman.

I was really surprised how well he kept his glue stick on the circle and followed the shape.  He is very good at copying his older siblings and this helped today as he saw what they did, he repeated and did a great job.  He knew right where to place his circles.  What is it about a snowman that children seem to know just where to place the circles?  This is a good activity for kids.

He placed his own circles for the snowman.  I helped him place his nose, mouth, and scarf.  He placed the other details of eyes, buttons, hat, and snow flakes. 

Another cool thing we did, was put some snowflakes under the paper and colored over them on the top paper and the design of the snow flake showed up on the top piece.  Then he glued on a few snow flakes too.

He was so proud of his creation.  I have a dozen pictures similar to this one.  He smiled as big as he could and carried around his art work to show everyone.

My six year old wanted to create a cowboy snowman.  His mind is always thinking cowboys. 


His creation has a sheriff badge, a belt, a cowboy hat, a bandana, and cowboy boots. 

I recall a discussion of how to make a snowman cowboy ride a horse, but alas, he gave up on the idea, as the snowman might roll off as his legs would be too short to straddle the saddle.    We also thought he had to leave his gun at home as his mittens might hinder his quick draw.  Whew!  I dodged the bullet on that one.

My 8 year old wanted an authentic looking snowman.  He was sure to add the details to his carrot, and use lumps of coal for the decorations. 

A really cool thing he did was to make his snow flakes crinkle and 3 dimensional, by using tape instead of glue.  (Also another way of saying he got tired of the glue sticking to his hands.)  The effects of using the tape on the snowflakes was really neat.  It made them shimmer, and puffy compared to the rest of his picture. 

Way to go!

Here is my serious artist.  He is 10 and a perfectionist in his creations.  So his took a “loooooong” time to make.   He has a corny sense of humor too, and is very independent.  His snowman was like a Sherlock Homes character.

His details are miniature compared to the other snowmen.  Itty bitty buttons.  Itty bitty hat.  Itty bitty scarf.  And a candy “cane”.

He is not done with his masterpiece.  He plans to add trees, perhaps a snow rabbit and birds, and more details later.  But Mom wanted to get a picture so here it is in this early stage.

What a fun time we had playing and building snowmen, without using the actual cold wet stuff.

I love how each child’s personality came through in making their own personal snowperson.

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Crystal Star

                        How To Make A Crystal Star

What’s in the box?

We gave our 4th grader this science kit called Zany Crystals. 

He is kind of ZANY too.  Great kid with a fun sense of humor!  Check out those styling goggles and the miniature magnifying glass on the lapel of his shirt.  He was trying to look as nerdy as possible and loves to make me laugh.

The kit comes with an instruction manual that has lots of pictures. 

It has instructions and materials for 9 different experiments making different kinds of crystals.    If you use this kit in your student’s workbox, it could last for nine days of science, or they could do it all in one day, or break it down and do a little each day.  We broke it down and used this for two experiments a day, and included it in our learning about snow flakes, and crystals this winter.

One of the experiments teaches him how to create a crystal star.

The kit is nice because it allows you have everything at your fingertips, except for a few household items. 

But you don’t really need a kit to do this experiment.  If you would like to repeat the crystal star experiment with your student, here is what you will need:

Hot water ( always use wisdom and monitor for safety).  Two glass jars.  Baking soda.  Food coloring.  Measuring and stirring plastic spoon.  Pipe cleaner.  String.  Craft stick.

Basically the steps involved:

1.  Pour very hot water into a glass jar.  We preheated our jar so we didn’t break the glass. 

2.  Pour in baking soda slowly, and stir until the mixture is saturated and no more dissolves but starts to accumulate on the bottom.

3. Pour off the saturated water into another glass jar, leaving the undissolved baking soda in the bottom of the first jar.

Here is a picture of jar 1 and jar 2 after pouring off the saturated solution.

4. Add a few drops of food coloring to jar 2 and stir.

5. Bend pipe cleaner into a star shape.

6. Hang the star with string from a craft stick.

7. Place star into the colored liquid solution.

8. Observe over the next 2 hours to 24 hours the crystallization process.  Basically you are watching crystals “grow” on the rough surface of the pipe cleaner.

9. Remove star from the solution carefully.

10. Reveal your crystal star.  Use magnifying glass to see crystals up close.  Have your child describe what the crystals look like and how they think they got there.

Fantastic!  Great job!

Another crystal experiment that is easy to repeat is the ice crystal.

Step 1.  Pour a small amount of cold water into a glass.
Step 2.  Place glass in freezer.
Step 3   Let stand for 30 minutes  (or longer) in freezer.
Step 4  Remove from freezer.
Step 5  Observe ice crystals on the sides of the glass with a magnifying glass.

What did you observe?  Ice crystals have 6 sides.

How did your crystal experiments turn out?  Leave us a comment below and let us know.

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Cultures Around The World Puzzle

                Activity From Our Culture Unit Study

After looking high and low for toddler, preschool, and lower elementary props and printouts for teaching about cultures to my children this school year, I finally gave up on some pursuits and decided to make several of them myself.

I created a Cultures Around The World Puzzle.  This is a visual aid to help the children see people and places of the world.  In this puzzle, they can see how differently people might look,  and how they are dressed, and see various places on different continents.


If you have a globe handy, set it out for the children to see.  Let them turn it and talk to them about a place you know just a little about, such as spices and rice from India, or the great wall of China.  Just begin with some simple facts to get this started.   

You can make the puzzle we made, or make your own.  One way to make your own is to use a piece of construction paper.  Cut out various pictures from geography magazines and let the children glue them on the paper.  Then cut out puzzle shapes or just cut out strips for the children to put back together.

After you have your puzzle ready to go, take some time to play with the puzzle, noticing the different clothing styles and continents of the people.  Point out how the puzzle is a simple picture of the globe they looked at earlier.  Discuss these different things with the children.

This activity is appropriate for young children, up through early elementary.  Younger children will need assistance, but this is good to do together and model for them how to put the pieces together.  This activity could also be used with children with disabilities, and with an ESL program.

If you would like to make this puzzle with your kids, here is the link

Cultures Around The World Puzzle 

If you would like to share how you used this puzzle with others, please link your blog back to this article.  I am glad for you to benefit from it.  Please do not sell it, or distribute it in anyway.  It is for your personal use only.  Thank you. 


Print the puzzle on heavy cardstock, or thin cardboard.  Laminate the pieces if you want them to last a long time.  Older children may be able to cut out the puzzle, but younger children will need the adult to do this for them.  Young children may also do better if you make this puzzle chunky, like putting it on carboard.  Another idea is to cut the picture into strips, or triangles and rectangles, for the younger children to reassemble.

I wish I had a puzzle machine, so the cutting process would be a whole lot simpler.  But this is only nine pieces, and it is still do-able by hand.

After playing with the puzzle, take some time to review pictures, available on the internet, about people around the world. 

(I have made some additional printables for games to go along with this, and hope to have them ready for you to use soon.  I realized after printing them myself, there were some changes I could make to improve them, so it will be something I will work on as I find time.)

I have posted some links to pictures from the internet from people around the world below.  While viewing different pictures, allow the children to ask questions about what they see.  Ask them about colors of clothing, or food, or what the people are doing.  Ask about any buildings, environment (dessert vs farmland, farmland vs. fishing in oceans or lakes, etc.), or landmarks they see.  These details will help the children gain more information about how the people in the pictures might live.

There are thousands of pictures available.  I selected a few that drew my interest, however feel free to be adventurous and look further than what I have shared here.  I really like the fact these pictures have a google map of the earth and you can really get a sense of location of where people live in this activity.  You could use this activity more independently with older children and highschool students to enhance geography
and social studies.  The main website is
Here are some specific pictures I found interesting.  You can click on the picture after it comes up for a closer, enlarged view.  You can also click on the google earth map after the picture comes up, and see where in the world this is located, and by zooming out just a little you can see the topography of the land, mountains, rivers, ocean, and more.  SOOOOOO  COOOOOOL !!!!

PICTURES from Panoramio:
Australia Sydney 
people riding camels in Moraco
 houses on a street in Italy
 houses in Greenland
kitaa Greenland  a school building and children are playing outside.
houses in Indonesia
a street in China, look at all the bicycles and look at how the roofs look different than in the US.  Explain how in China many adults ride bicyles to work and to the store/market.  Many of the grocery stores, as in several countries, are outside open markets.
Street in China
China, rice paddies on the sides of mountains.  Ask the children if this would be hard work to plant and harvest the rice
housing and rice paddies in China
Mongolia, ask the children how they might live differently, if they lived where this photo was taken.
Crowded Narrow Street near a market in India
Indian Fisherman
Indian Village  You can see someone carrying a heavy load on their back and children playing near some goats.
Nepal Village
Nepal  Public Bath
Nepal Public Street people selling lots of things
children in bangledesh
Jordan Desert
Israel Market
Street in Israel

After looking over the pictures, allow the children to play with the puzzle again, and listen for new observations they make about how the people might live.  You should see your younger children begin to understand that people all over the world have similarities and differences from the culture or ethnic background of your children.  You should also see improvement in their puzzle skills as they practice putting the matching pieces together.  You should see improvement in your older children’s comprehension of specific peoples from various places.

We also created a matching envelope to store our puzzle pieces in.  The envelope is 5″ x 8″ regular card size.  I used a leftover envelope from a box of Christmas cards. This is very handy if you plan to lapbook or notebook your cultural unit study.  If you don’t want an envelope, a ziploc bag, pencil case, or recycled container will work fine.

My daughter, who is three, enjoyed putting the puzzle pieces into the envelope as much as playing with the puzzle.  Good for eye hand coordination practice too.

Other ways to use this puzzle with different age students:

*Build a multicultural mobile with it.  
     Have the children color the back side of each puzzle piece with a different color.
     Punch a hole in one end of each puzzle piece.  Thread string or yarn through the
     hole and tie the other end to holes in a reused lid or onto a plastic hanger or a
     stick.  You will need nine pieces of string of different lengths for the pieces and 
     one additional one for the top of the mobile.  Hang it up for the children to enjoy.

*Glue the pieces onto construction paper, poster board, or a file folder to display the
   finished puzzle.

*Have the younger children count the pieces, one through nine, as they help 
    put the puzzle together.

*Have the younger children identify the colors on the puzzle.

*Have the older children identify what continent or country the people represent as you
     put the puzzle together.

*Put velcro tabs on the back of the pieces and let the chirdren put them onto a felt 
    board.  This is a very good activity to practice dexterity and coordination for children
    who need more practice.

We used this activity as part of our Culture Unit Study.  It would also go well with other geography studies, history studies, ethnicity and multicultural studies as well.  In upcoming months we plan to do the geography study Expedition Earth from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and World Cultures from Hands Of A Child and we will pull out this activity again for those.

If you would like to read more about our Culture Unit Study we have been working on through out this school year, please see these posts (and there is more posts to come as I go back through our pictures and find time to get them written, so che
ck back):

International Food and Cultural Opportunities

Geography and Food Diversity

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ABC and 123

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We Play

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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.

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Preschool and 5K too

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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.