Friday, August 24, 2012

Let's Take a Trip to Ralph??

Homeschooling is frought with emotions. Some days are good, other days not so good.  Any homeschool parent will tell you this, so keep in mind that not everyday will run like a well oiled machine.  But then there is the funny. And my kids never cease to bring the funny, even when they aren't trying.

Yesterday I was working with Makiah on United States geography.  She has a map section in each social studies unit. We were working on the East coast and a few midwest (everything east of the Mississippi river) states and capitals. I walked away to help Daniel with what he was doing on the computer, and this is what I hear coming from the living room:

Makiah: "Richmond, Charleston, Columbia, Tallahassee, Ralph, Jackson, Montegomery. . . ."

My ears perked up to the Ralph throw in the middle of the capitals.  I finished up with Daniel, looked at Sam and his math and there she went again, eyes closed. . . .

"Montpelier, Concord, Boston, Ralph, Columbia, Dover. . . "

I abandoned the idea of heading to the kitchen to start lunch to see what in the world she was studying that involved Ralph, but before I got there it hit me, and I started to giggle.  Raleigh.  Raleigh, North Carolina.  Instead of it being Ral-ee, she was saying it as Ralph. Well, she looked at me as if I had flipped a cog and I explained why I was laughing. She started laughing and looked at me and said, 

"Mom, that is so decepting."

I decided to head for the kitchen, after I corrected her and told her it was deceiving. Then I went and had a nice little chuckle. 

I agree with her, the English language is decepting. ~Wink~

Friday, August 3, 2012


Yes, like the rest of what seems to be millions of people, I do have a love for Pinterest.  I justify my time spent on there in one of these three ways:

"I found some delicious  and healthy recipes for our family today, can't wait to try them out."

"Look at all these fabulous crafts and crochet items I want to try out.  You know new things to make for the business."

But this is by far my favorite:

"I spent all that time on Pinterest getting ideas for school and I found so many great things, it was worth the countless little time I spent pinning." {Smile}

All joking aside, I have found countless fabulous ideas on Pinterest that I am actively using in Principle Things.  There are a lot of homeschooling bloggers using Pinterest to put there stuff out there and I am all for not reinventing the wheel.  While when it comes to creating things I don't lack in the crafts and crochet department, but creating printables and such, I'd rather get it from another homeschool mom who already did it.  I'm even willing to pay for some of it.  We gotta help each other out right?

I realize that Pinterest is huge and can be overwhelming at times but it is worth the effort if you are looking for fun and creative ideas for teaching, science project, art/craft times and so much more.  So I'm going to share a few of the things I got from Pinterest and a few that I follow that might be of help to you too.

Isn't this a fab idea for teaching parts of speech.  English was probably my least favorite subject in school (hopefully it doesn't show to badly in my blogging) followed closely by Math.  I despised learning parts of a sentence and graphing them.  I'm still not convinced there is a purpose for graphing a sentence and I've determined the answer to my question of, "how will I ever use this in life?" is this; I needed it so I could teach it to my kids.  {Laughter}  English can be dry and boring (or it was when I was being taught) so to try and ease the BLAH of English we are using this idea.  I am hoping it will bring English to life by giving it a hands on approach.

This idea here is just grand!!  We are implementing this concept just this year.  I started using it about a week ago and I use it for everything; school work, chores, directions given to my 4 year old and on and on.  It works fabulously well.  Sometimes kids, even homeschoolers have a hard time letting you know they don't understand or we assume they do and they don't.  This is a great way for your child to signal to you that they are in need of help with a concept or instructions given to them.

Behavior is an issue that every teacher, home or otherwise, will encounter is behavior issues.  I started using these little punch cards last semester.  It was great motivation for Sam (you know the child that is hyper, a wiggler and would rather do anything except what he is supposed to be doing) because he was working toward a goal.  I loved his facial expression and how proud he was when he would get a punch for good behavior that day.  I rotate out my motivators for good behavior and this is a good one. Usually the reward for a full punch card is a visit to Mom's "You Did It" Box.  I went to Dollar Tree and bought up several little toys, puzzles, books, etc and when the boys got a fully card of punches they got to pick a prize.  You would think that box was filled with gold.

Here are a few of the people I follow on Pinterest because they have awesomeness to share:

Apples 4 the Teacher
Sister Teachers
Lesson Planet
Hodge Podge Mom
Homeschool Creations
Blog She Wrote
Moms Mustard Seeds

Okay, that's enough overwhelming with you with Pinterest.  I think I have given you enough reasons to look at Pinterest, even if it's just for homeschooling stuff.  I believe in using the resources we are given.

Keep Calm and Homeschool On.


Monday, July 30, 2012

I Love the Excitement of a New School Year

About this time of summer I start getting really pumped about the upcoming school year!  Even though we basically school year round, a new year always gets me really excited.  Maybe it's the school supplies that line the aisles of my favorite stores?  It's possible, especially since I am slightly addicted!  ~Smile~  I love prepping notebooks and folders and getting my our personal binder set up.  I always tweak something each year to fit our every growing, changing kids.

Something that I do around this time every summer I start evaluating how the school year went.  What did we do well?  What we didn't do so well?  How can we improve the process?  What are the goals for the coming year?  What things can be done as a group despite the age/grade differences?
What projects will each child work on individually?

I have already made the decision to drop one of Makiah's electives, Bible.  I know and before you hit the panic-I-am-shocked-at-your-choice-Valerie button, let me explain why.  Even though I love the curriculum we use, I am not a fan Bible portion for her age.  There is nothing wrong with it in theory, but all it is, is reading a passage and answering questions and there is nothing wrong with reading and answering questions.  My problem with it is that it doesn't explain the passage or offer practical life application.  She's going into middle school, this is a pivotal time in life and practical life lessons and explanation are very important and needed.  This is Principle Things Academy and these are the most important principles I will ever teach!  So I have decided to put together and teach my own program.  All three will be taught the same lessons, adjusted to their age.  We will have two months to complete a unit with a total of five units for the year, done in notebooking style.  The other two months of the year (next summer) will be spent reinforcing what we learned already.  I am very excited about this venture and I think we will all benefit from it.  I look forward to documenting the Bible notebooking for you all!!

Another decision already made is that Makiah and Samuel both will do two large academic projects this year.  I'm talking project boards and oral reports on their chosen subject.  One science project and one social studies project.  Makiah will also have a large Bible project that she is doing based on a book, called the Girl in the Dress, Uncovering the Mystery of Modesty.  I want this to be a project that she keeps and is able to look back on, so it will be done notebooking style in protective sheets.  Sam most likely will have a Bible project too, I just haven't landed on just what yet.

Makiah will also be involved in an art class once a week for the first semester and I think it's going to be fabulous!  She is excited and I am too.  It is going to be taught by an art teacher and they will complete 14 projects, one weekly based on what they learn about the masters!  This class is through our homeschool group.

I am tweaking our daily goal folders slightly and our daily schedules.  I will do a photo post when they are all done and ready for viewing!

Above all, going into the new school year prayerfully is the most important part of this process.  The Bible clearly states, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  James 1:5  It is important for the homeschool family to do so as being led by God.

Praying also keeps me from pulling my hair out and rushing them to the nearest public school and enrolling them, because not everyday is fabulous.  But most days are pretty fabulous.  ~Smile~

FYI:  This is one of the first things we will make this year coming school year!!  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Reading!! Woo Hoo!!

It's summer and even though we do a school year round, summer is the time of reading programs and contests everywhere from the library to the local grocery and book stores!  Every year we sign up for reading programs and I also do one of my own creating.

This year I challenged Makiah to read twenty books outside of her school work and for school reading.  It's a lot.  But I know that she can do it.  I have challenged Sam to read 50, yes 50 early reader books.  Again, it's a lot, but I think he can do it.

This summer I have challenged myself to spend more time reading in the evenings.  I have a gazillion (I tend to exaggerate) ebooks downloaded on my iPad Kindle app that need reading and this summer I am going to commit more time to reading and less time to whatever else I do to enjoy the quiet of after kids bedtime hours.  Did that make sense?  Not a very "educated" sentence, but other moms and homeschool moms will understand.  ~Laughter~

So here it is:

One Homeschool Mom's Summer Reading List:

Homeschooly type books:
  • Homeschooling Boys by Tina Razzell 
  • Simply Homeschool by Karen Debeus
Business and Productivity type books:
  • Nut Job by Micah Moss
  • How to Make Money with Pinterest
  • The Organized Kitchen by Brette Sember
Wifely Type Books:
  • The Titus 2 Woman by Susan Godfrey
  • The Good Wife's Guide
Parenting Type Books:
  • Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson
  • Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Books for Pure Enjoyment:
  • This Happens Every Spring by Gary Chapman and Catherine Palmer
  • A Dropped Stitches Wedding by Janet Tronstad
  • Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark
  • A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander (just need to finish this one, already started it)
  • Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin
This is a long list considering all the things I have on my plate (it's more like a platter it's so big), but I think it's doable and I'm excited to try.  Also I will review most, if not all the books here so I can share with all three of you faithful readers.  ~Laughter~

I will also update you on the kids summer reading experiences and how school is going.  

What are you reading this summer?  Anything fun or exciting or informative? 

Well, I should stop now, looking at this list. . . I need to go read.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Night of Shining Stars

Exciting times around Principle Things!!  Last night was Night of Shining Stars with our homeschool group.  Kids could participate in three different events.  The project fair, the art fair and a talent show.  Makiah participated in all three.  Sam had a project in the project fair.

It was so crazy getting everything done for the projects, but so very fun!  It was also really fun to see what all the other kids did and their creativity.

The talent show was heaps of fun!  The kids did amazing.  Some sang (Makiah did that), so quoted lines from Dr. Seuss, some did skits and the list goes on.  What an amazing group of children and teens!!

I love spending time around the other homeschool families.  You feel such a camaraderie knowing that they face similar issues, struggles and share the same type of joy.  The parents I am surrounded with amaze me.  Homeschooling isn't for the faint of heart and there are days when I think sending them off to school would be easier.  And it would.  But it isn't what we decided and feel is best for us.  So on those crazy days, I think of all the other homeschool parents.  And we press on.  Last night, seeing all the wonderful things I did, reassures that we are doing the right thing.  And makes it all worth while.  ~Smile~

Makiah with her project on Peter Cartwright, her photo and her hand sewn pillow!

 Sam with his project on Creation!

Makiah singing in the talent show.

I am extremely proud of my kiddos!  Now time to get busy on the rest of the work for the year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WHY? Sometimes I Need A Reminder

It is the spring semester of school. It is so hard to get back into the swing into things after the holidays and breaks. Even I have a hard time getting back into the groove of school. It's teacher mom confession time. ~Smile~ It's just a true, real statement. Anyway, I was in need of a boost and a fresh wave of inspiration for this semester.

This year we joined a homeschool group and honestly, besides the decision to homeschool, it was the best decision we have made. Besides all the fun activities and field trips there is a meeting once a month for the moms and/or dads. I look forward to this meeting every month. I need it. I need to be in a room full of people who face the same challenges and joys I do. Every. single. day. There is just something comforting about that. So last night was our January meeting. It was the biggest meeting of the year. . . the Annual Encouragement meeting. I am obviously not the only one to ever experience the second semester doldrums, otherwise the HELPS board would not have created such a meeting! Again, I find this comforting. I left last night feeling recharged and ready to go again. I mean we've been back at the homework helm for a few weeks, but not with much enthusiasm.

So last night one of the leaders read some funny things about homeschooling and some statistics and then asked us all to write down WHY we decided to homeschool in the first place. I wrote down four reasons, they were the primary reasons for homeschooling and they are in order of the most important reason to the least of the important reasons. ~Smile~

  1. Because we wanted to teach Biblical principles right along with core academics. We believe that the Biblical aspects of learning are just as important as learning to read, write and count.
  2. To chose what subjects, ideologies and topics are taught and at what age they will be taught.
  3. Because time with my children is short and I want to spend all the time I can with them.
  4. Safety. While I don't need to elaborate, I will. It is a post, right? I know we can't protect them from every terrible thing for their entire lives, but some things should not be experienced in elementary school (i.e., drugs, guns, child on child violence). I do not believe for one minute that this lends itself to being sheltered, I believe it protects them, while I am teaching them morals, values and standards and then when they are exposed to life they are prepared with the answers! Safety isn't just physical safety, it's spiritual, emotional and mental safety too. Okay, okay I'll jump off my soap box now.
Over the years more reasons have come along, they are really just the icing on the cake of reasons. . . for instance the liberty to travel whenever we feel like it without having to worry about notes and permission from the school. Another one being doing school in our pj's. You have no idea how much better it is to teach English or grade Math in pj's. . . really you don't. I know doing school in comfy clothes makes me a better teacher and a happier one for sure!

So while homeschooling comes with a plethora of challenges and some days I want to run to the nearest school and enroll them I wouldn't trade one day of homeschooling! Thank God for new mercies every morning that gives me hope for a better day if yesterday was not one for blogging about. Thank God for the strength to do ALL things THROUGH Him. Thank God for the freedom to choose. . . even when I have to sometimes remind myself WHY?

And yes, I changed the blog colors. . . I have spring on my mind!