July 31, 2010

A Wonderfully Broadening World

  handsinmiddle    This year will be my 8th year as a homeschooler, which I find amazing as I still feel like I am a newbie. I started out in California in a Homeschooling Charter School for a few years. That was a good experience, because I had support and learned that it wasn’t as hard as it sounded. We made the move to a much smaller town in Colorado and I found myself on my own. I was thrilled because I didn’t have to submit any more paperwork to “prove” that my kids were learning, but I also felt like my support network had been pulled out from under me.

I found out about an all-inclusive group that met weekly and started attending just so my kids would have some other kids to play with. When they said all-inclusive they meant exactly that. Through the years we have become friends with people from a variety of faiths including Catholic, Buddhist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lakota, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Mother Earth. We became the Mormons on the list.

In addition, our friends run the gamut of careers from Cowboys, Indians, and Pastors, to CNN reporters, Newspaper Publishers, Librarians, Trash Men, Gardeners and City Managers. I never cease to marvel at all the interesting people there are in the world. We have been exposed to abandoned kittens watched over by a family who run their own non-profit animal shelter, bison on a ranch managed by another family, and silver-smithing by a Catholic family in the basement of a Catholic church.

When we started this homeschooling journey, I lived in a protected little LDS world, which I loved and was a wonderful life. On the path that we have travelled since, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone into a new and wonderfully broadening world.

The lesson that started out as explaining to my boys why that boy has long hair and an earring as a part of his culture, deepened into such a strong friendship that we travelled 11 hours to South Dakota and the Crazy Horse Monument with friends who were related to him to learn from their experiences. This was after we visited them in Utah and discussed how visiting the This is the Place Monument had inspired them to move back to their roots.

My kids have played with friends who have such faith in the Lord that when their daughter was born without legs or arms, they have found joy in the journey of discovering what she is able to do with a foot that has three toes. They are a lesson to us every time we are with them.

We have had the discussion many times that other people don’t believe the way that we do, and so don’t always live our standards, but they are still are brothers and sisters and great people.  It’s taught us to look beyond tattoos to see the good hearts but still hold to our own rods that we’ve been blessed to be given.

Our homeschooling journey is filled with textbooks and computer programs, but as I look back over the years, I see we have had another kind of learning. I hope to keep having new lessons for the next 8 years.

About-Our-Guest-WriterLarissa has homeschooled her children Brandon-12, Andrew-10, Connor-8, Nicole-5, and Danielle-5 months, from the very beginning. She has recently entered the world of blogging and enjoys the creative outlet. Her blog  The Responsible Woman includes blogs on all her interests including art, music, reading, cooking and learning. She enjoys having a learning home most of the time, despite more than a few rough days.

July 30, 2010

Back To Homeschooling Hop – Join us!

Homeschooling Hop It’s that time of year again, when people are making plans and choosing curriculum. 

Have you made all your final decisions? 

What will you be studying this year? 

How will you approach those studies and what resources will you use? 

Today we are having a Back to Homeschooling Hop!  I hope you’ll join us, by linking a post on your ‘schooling’ plans.  How do you link up?  Just go to your post that you’d like to share from your own blog, click on the title, then copy the url (http address) found at the top of your browser.  This is the url you will post in the Linky tool below. 

Be sure to come back and check out the other links.  This Linky will be open for a week so link up before it closes! ☺

July 29, 2010

Book Review: The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage

The Fourth Nephite I recently had the opportunity to review an advance copy of “The Fourth Nephite,” a brand new historical fiction series written by Jeffrey S. Savage.  At first, I wasn’t that excited about the opportunity.  I was never really into historical fiction.  It always seemed so serious or depressing to me.  The Fire of the Covenant is a good example.  It’s a great novel, it’s just that my heart was literally aching after reading it.  So, you can see where I’m coming from, but I digress.

The Fourth Nephite is a fantastic story dripping with clever usage of historical characters and locations, lovable characters, and fantastic plot points.  If this first book is any indication, this is definitely a series you’re going to want to keep an eye on.

This novel follows the adventure of Kaleo Steele, a teenage football star.  While the football star label seems like it would turn off us mere mortals, he’s actually a very likable character.  Kaleo is LDS and does his best to be a good guy, but he has serious problems with doubt.  He’s only followed through with the motions his entire life. He doesn’t have faith of his own and deep down, he doubts the gold plates ever existed. Everything changes though, when a very strange series of events plunges him into Palmyra, New York in the time of Joseph Smith.  He suddenly finds himself sandwiched between the prophet he’s heard so much about and the treasure hunters that want the gold plates for their own purposes.  Lessons are learned, inner battles are waged, and sacrifices are made to protect a book that Kaleo doubted ever existed.

The storyline is very engaging, but what I think gives this novel its edge is how well the author crafts Kaleo’s character.  In between every chapter, you get a look into Kaleo’s thoughts and feelings on recent events.  It’s touches like this, that make Kaleo feel like a real person.  You will understand his feelings and you will celebrate when he changes for the better.  He’s a character you want to see succeed and in my opinion that’s the best kind of character.

Kaleo isn’t the only good character though.  The historical characters used are well presented and are true to their personalities.  When Kaleo first met Hyrum at Alvin’s grave, I knew what I was reading was good stuff.  Savage also had the courtesy to give you a list of what’s fictional and what isn’t in his notes at the back of the book.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that the treasure hunters actually did hire a necromancer to steal the golden plates!

Unfortunately, like all good things, this novel has an ending and it just seems to come far too early.  Of course, if I had my way, every book in existence would be upwards of 500 pages long, so maybe that’s just me.

This is a fantastic novel that begs to be read.  Read it, love it, and check out Jeffrey S. Savage’s other novels such as The Far World Series, one of my personal favorites.

*Anticipated publication date:  August 2010. You can preorder your copy @ Deseret Book.


Michael is a recent homeschool graduate and will be attending college full-time on a Presidential Scholarship (based solely on his ACT score) in just a few weeks.    Until then his life will be a whirlwind as he has just over two weeks to fit in Youth Conference, EFY and help his family move to their new home.

July 28, 2010

Web Wednesday

Web Wednesday pic
I found some interesting sites that offered many choices of blogger authors. I liked the diversity and hope that someone will be able to use this as a resource!! Richelle had an article on The Very Hungry Caterpillar and a unit study to go along with it. TedGar shared her take on Service Projects for Kids Who Love Animals.
At BarbaraFrankOnline Barbara shares her struggles of figuring out what works for her family. How she started homeschooling like the brick and mortar schools until she figured out that, for her family, there were better ways.
At the 5 J’s Joy shares a really great website for teaching typing, FREE!! :) Can’t beat that!
I really enjoyed reading this article from Tammy at From a Cluttered Desk. She shares some insightful information about our relationship with Heavenly Father. It really gave me pause and made me think. What more can you ask for?
Are your children interested in all things scientific and electronic? At this blog they share a wonderful and entertaining story of their adventure. I think you will enjoy it at Handmade Homeschool.
Somehow Lisa Jo made sense when she discussed the benefits of hands-on learning and how hands-off learning happens much more often than we think at!!
Kelli at 3 Boys and a Dog shares some really neat crafts that you can find on the web at a not what you expect kind of place. :) Intrigued???
Mrs White shares her ‘curriculum’ for teaching her 5 daughters homemaking skills at The Legacy of Homemaking. I think it can be easily adapted for boys, as well. :) (I am all about equal opportunity teaching to my girls and boys!!)
The Church Website shares some great information regarding Food Storage and planning, etc. I definitely recommend this!!
Ever have a night that is so busy that you don't have time to cook? Let the Food Storage Made Easy gals help you with their really great 'plan ahead' strategies!! Jodi share some great tips and tricks that you are sure to enjoy!
Another great website is the Be Prepared site. They have information, newsletters, food storage analyzers, blog and savings tips that they pass along to their readers. Their information is really handy and informative!
Head on over to LDS Splash and you will find some wonderful lesson ideas and tricks and tips from other LDS families who know.
Of course, you couldn't NOT go to the Church Website to see all of their resources on the topic of Family Home Evening. :)
If you are looking for a one stop shop Blog/Idea/Resource hub then look no further than the Idea Door. The link I have attached is to their Home & Family resources - but, they have Food Storage, Being Prepared, Ward Callings - you name it and you'll be able to find some helps for yourself or your family!!
I found a really great resource from Kiplinger for setting up budgeting for yourself and your family. I have a great testimony of the importance of budgeting and sticking to it!! :) Hope this site can help someone!
If you are looking for an engaging way to help your teenagers, your spouse or yourself to set goals in different areas, you might want to check out this MindBloom interactive site.
I couldn't leave without leaving you with a yummy Summer recipe!! :) MyRecipes has some great options/recipes and I definitely recommend it for adding some 'spice' to your weekday meals!!
You can find out what Tammy and her chickens are up to at the Family Blog.

July 27, 2010

Cootie Catcher Fun

I have to admit, I’ve never called them cootie catchers and we don’t have cooties at our house, but apparently these fun paper contraptions are commonly known by such a name.

I suspect most of us had a grand time as a child playing with these paper wonders.  When the memory of them hit me, I immediately knew I had to introduce them to my children.

How to fold a cootie catcher:  Start with a square.  Fold from corner to corner making a triangle. Open and repeat with the other corners making a creased "X" when opened.  Fold all corners to the center and crease well. Flip this folded square over and fold the corners to the center again and crease well.  Next, fold in half from bottom to top and crease well. Open that last fold and fold left to right and crease well.  Lift up flaps and insert fingers. You are now ready to label your sections and have some fun!

I have included a few ideas for cootie catcher fun below – just print and go!

  • A  traditional pick a number, color and animal catcher
  • A practice-your-math-facts catcher
  • A catcher puppet pet creature


Cootie Catchers Set 1

 - Disclaimer - 

Cootie Catchers are really fun, but they are not conducive to reverent behavior at church.  Don’t ask me how I know.  Let me just say, a “singing” wolf and frog cootie catcher were involved.

Dana♥ is having fun and learning tons with her crew @ Noggins & Nonsense.  Come join us!

July 26, 2010

Learning the Stories of Our Ancestors

overalls Virginia Grace Jewett Wickline
circa. 1928
(Original photo property of Ruth Lehman)

From the personal recipes of my Grandmother, Virginia Grace Jewett Wickline, who passed away in 1985:

Elephant Stew

1 elephant, medium sized
2 rabbits, optional

Cut elephant into bite-sized pieces. This should take about 2 months.
Add enough brown gravy to cover. Cook over kerosene about 4 weeks at 465 degrees. This will serve about 3800 people. If more are expected, two rabbits may be added, but do this only if necessary, as most people do not like to find hare in their stew.

Last summer, 2009, my family was fortunate to receive a disc of 405 photographs that my Aunt had lovingly, painstakingly, scanned, sized, restored.  These were photos of our ancestors, some dating back into the mid-1860’s.  Along with the photos was a 16-page listing, describing each photo. We were so thrilled to have these, as the journals we’d previously had access to didn’t have much to say. But, did my ancestors ever take photos!  We sat around the computer looking through them, logging dates and people in Personal Ancestral File, linking siblings and finding a branch of family in another state. We were absolutely tickled.  We got over the empty journals.  The photographs said it all, told the story.  (Bear with me, I have a point)


( Original photograph property of Ruth Lehman)

The baby in the bath, September 13, 1936--my Aunt Audrey. She died 2 years later. 
My curiosity about her was satisfied.  I got to see.  I also learned that we go on.

Carmel School-3-25-1912

( Original photograph property of Ruth Lehman)

 What? A messed up looking building? Is there a story here in this photo?  You betcha!  My Maternal Great-Grandmother’s sister, Eva, was teaching school when lightning struck the schoolhouse at 1:40 p.m. (circa early 1920’s), leaving her unconscious. Luckily, my Great Grandmother’s husband, Emmett,who was nearby delivering the mail on his Harley Davidson motorcycle (note the sqwaka squeezie horn), saw the lighting strike and ran to her rescue.

EGJ-on Harley

( Original photograph property of Ruth Lehman)

I learned that human lightning rods run in the family. One of my sisters has been struck more than once.  I learned that things  are going to happen, and the Lord  puts people in place for His purposes.

From the photos, I  learned of Georgie, my grandmother’s pet rooster, who learned to crow on command (they fed him peanuts).  People would call the house and ask Georgie to crow. I learned of  the floods my people lived through. I saw the beginnings of the  towns where they lived, the original homesteads.  I saw the love my grandfather had for his plow horses-they farmed for a while.  I have held in my hands the small pocket mirror my Great-Great Grandfather Barzilla used when he shaved.  He also survived the Civil War.


( Original photograph property of Ruth Lehman)

What is the story here?  This Rattlesnake killing young lady (circa 1928--she even made the local papers) is my maternal grandmother, a daughter of the man on the motorcycle and niece to the woman who was struck by lightning.  She grew up to be a resilient woman who could lose a child  (the one in the bath photo) and come through the tragedy, a woman who could really wear a hat, would take illegal pictures of warships going up and down the river during WWII (what a rebel), grew 6-ft Poinsettias (when she lived in Florida), and caught huge fish off an Ocean Fishing Pier.  Caught  sharks, too. She did it in a dress. 


( Original photograph property of Ruth Lehman)

My point here is not to go on and on about my people, but  to spark an idea for you, to “see” your own people, to share my excitement of learning of them,  and share what they documented.

I want to know of my ancestors. My children and siblings want to see where they came from.  I, myself,  am not a good journal keeper. It’s total drudgery for me.  UGH!!  But seeing the pictorial history of my people changed me. I saw, and felt,  something important—the link—the one that goes from generation to generation. I discovered the bond. 

I also realized that my descendants will also want to know about me, my family, our lives, where we lived, what we grew, how I handled the death of my husband, raised my disabled children, our goofiness, my faith, my testimony.  I saw a little clearer.

What can we do"?

  • As a family, we take time to label our photographs now, with names, dates and events. 
  • I think we should also document our photos on disc.
  • I had my homeschoolers write in journals on Mondays.
  • We blog about our lives.  You can even get a book made of your blog at blurb.com 
  • I print out my blog posts (in Windows Live Writer—google it) and stick them in my journal
  • I counsel my blogging children to do the same
  • I write in my journal,  now.
  • Who knows the stories in your family?  Who has the photos?  Find them.  Soon.  Document the stories.
  • My daughter went to websites with surnames of ancestors
  • Church members can access new.familysearch.org
  • You might consider getting your homeschoolers involved with Indexing records held by the Church.  You decipher census records, marriage records, birth records and the like.  I hear it is addicting.

“After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.”  D&C 110:12

Our ancestors are calling. Do you hear them? 

Our descendents will want to know us, too.

How do you teach of your ancestors?  Keep records? Family history FHE?  Get your children to write their histories?  Do you incorporate family history into your homeschool day? 

Teresa is a widow, with 4 children, 2 of whom are disabled and still homeschooling over the age of 18.  One insatiable son is high school age.  Her eldest is the family Genealogy researcher these days and has found the link going back to 400 B.C., and beyond, in one branch of the family, which includes Nobility from Sweden, Saxony, Holland, France, the Ukraine and Italy.  She wonders if she is 4,874,967th in line for the Danish throne?  You can find our family fun, photos, ponderings and a few homeschool things at Wockenflock Daze

July 24, 2010

Our Journey to Homeschooling

Thoughtful girlI never intended to homeschool my kids.  The thought never even crossed my mind until I had been married for over 11 years and had three, nearly four children, two of which had already begun their public school careers.  I wasn’t against Homeschooling, I just didn’t think about it at all.  My kids did well in school.  They were not too far behind that it was difficult for them, nor were they so far above that they were bored.  They were not bullied by other kids or their teachers.  They both had some really great teachers and some not so great ones.  It was not a major experience or anything like that that made me begin questioning their education.  It was little things over a few years.

I was surprised at the amount of homework they brought home.  It bothered me that after spending all day at school, they had to come home and do so much homework.  I have always been a firm believer that kids should be allowed to be kids.  They need a lot of time to play and explore their world.  It was a nightly struggle to get them to finish their homework packets and do the required reading at home.       

I also found the timed readings in school to be frustrating.  At home my girls could read very well, but at school they would have these timed reading tests that made them nervous and they would not read as well.  I often wondered why they had to read so quickly.  Isn’t it more important for them to like reading?  My girls quickly became negative about reading at all.  They were being pressured to be able to read at a certain level and this stressed them out to the point where they didn’t even like reading.  I did not like that one bit!   

During her third grade year, my first daughter began showing signs of being highly stressed out.  She didn’t want to read.  She didn’t want to do any homework.  She didn’t want to go to school.  She started getting headaches and wanting to stay home.  Fourth grade was worse.  I don’t think there was an entire week of that year that went by without her missing a day, going late or calling to come home early.  There was one night while trying to do a school project where she had such a huge anxiety attack that she was on the floor not able to breathe. 

It was when my oldest daughter was in fourth grade and my second daughter was in second grade that I began looking into different schooling options.  Private schools were out of the question and I couldn’t find any Charter schools close enough that I liked or felt good about.  I am not sure how I exactly came across homeschooling.  It could have been the family that moved into our ward around that time.  They homeschooled.  They were normal.  They were better than normal.  Their children were bright, social and kind.  Maybe they inspired me.  I started looking into homeschooling.  I had the usual thoughts and doubts that I am sure most homeschoolers have.  I kept finding information that helped ease my mind.  I prayed about it.  I felt good about it.  I decided to have my girls finish out their current years in the public school.  I could have pulled them out right in the middle of fourth and second grade, but there was still so much I needed to learn and research.  We finished that school year, barely.  That was it.  We were done with public school.           

About a week or two after the end of school we added daughter number four to our family.  I was glad to have the summer to recover and get used to another child to care for.  I don’t know if people really believed we would go through with it.   Some thought I was a bit crazy to be doing this with a new baby.  But, we did.  I sent in an affidavit in to the district and when school opened that fall, my kids were not there.  It was a little hard at first.  My oldest daughter felt bad that she was not there with her friends beginning a new school year.  I had to remind her a few times of the reasons we were doing this. 

Our first year was tough.  I had learned that kids coming out of public school and into homeschool need a de-schooling time and that it could take months.  So, I planned little and just kind of went with the flow for a while.  We tried many different things.  Once I felt like they were ready to start learning again I tried to model things after public school (something I wish I had never tried to do!).  I tried to keep up with what they would have been doing if they were in public school.  This did not work well for us.  My girls were bored to death of math and other worksheets.  I finally realized that this was not school at home, but Homeschooling.  We could do things differently!   I prayed for help in finding what we needed.  I was led to a curriculum and method that I absolutely love and my girls are thriving with.  We use the Charlotte Mason method and love it.  My girls are getting back into reading for fun and I have seen huge improvements in their reading skills.             

I am so thankful that my eyes were opened to Homeschooling. While it doesn’t always go smoothly and as planned (does anything?), it has been a huge blessing for me and my family.  I know that I am right where I need to be, doing right what I need to be doing.

About-Our-Guest-Writer (in her own words):  Jessica -  I have been married for thirteen years and have four daughters.   Though I wish I could go back in time and begin homeschooling from my first daughter's very first day of school, we only began homeschooling last year.  Homeschooling has become one of my biggest passions in life and I love being at home teaching and nurturing my girls.  I love the Charlotte Mason method and right now it is working very well for our family.     I also enjoy photography, art, writing and reading.  I love collecting books and am running out of room in my small house to put them!  My homeschool blog is just getting started and you can find it at  Pemberley Academy.

July 23, 2010

Question: Do you schedule your days? What does your typical school day look like?


Tammy - Yes, we have to have a schedule - but, I also know that it has to be flexible - there are sick days, Dr days, blah days, wanna be outside days, etc. :) So, we have a schedule but, I am very flexible with it - as long as they get their daily assignments done. :) That I am not flexible about. Everyone in the family is expected to do a set of 'things' daily - and it has to be done. (school included).

Typically my daughters get up between 5:30-6:30 and will jump in and start their school. The evening before we will go through their assignments for the following day and they already know what is expected of them. I have it on the computer so they can easily see a weeks worth of school at a time. They like jumping in and getting it done so they have the majority of the day to do things they WANT to do.  My son, on the other hand, is a late sleeper (comparatively)  - he does best if he wakes up on his own and isn't disturbed. He gets up between 7-8 (depending on his allergies/asthma symptoms). He has to eat before he can be human sometimes - so I actually hold off breakfast waiting for him - although the others can have granola bars to beat their hunger pains in the morning. :) The son (7) needs more one on one time with me to get his work done - although he is doing much better at being autonomous.

I find that when we start the day early then the day just goes better because we can accomplish more and we 'fight' less. :) I like that!! We'll see how having the new baby (soon) affects all of this!!! :) Next year I'll have 4 of them doing homeschool and two toddlers still - so it will be interesting!! :)

Here is our typical 'general' Daily School Schedule:
5:00 - I get up and check emails and do my computer work - then I am pretty well done with computer for day. I am off by 6am at the latest.
6:30 - Girls up and dressed  - starting school by 6:45am
7:30 - Clay up and dressed - starting school by 8:30
8:00 - Breakfast & clean up / Chore Check
            8:30 - I work with Clayton -
            9:30 - I work with Kierstyn (10) as needed
           10:30 - I work with Kaitlyn (9) as needed
11:30 - Break Time / Chore check - outside play while waiting for lunch or indoor play if too hot (after all we live in AZ!)
                This is usually a good time for me to play with the younger two or read to them or just be silly with them
12:00 - Lunch & Clean up / Chore Check
1:00 - Group Scripture Study (Discover the Scriptures)
1:30 - QUIET time - read, nap, play quietly by self, etc.
2:30 - Finish up any remaining school work or FREE TIME
3:30 - Chore Time
4:00 - Chore or FREE time
5:00 - Dinner Time / Clean up / finish up school work
6:00 - Personal Scripture Study (as a family)
6:30 - Bath Time
7:00 - Family Read Aloud Time
7:30 - Family Prayer/snack time
8:00 - Read to self or to sibling
8:30 - Lights out
The evening time is fairly regimented because their Father gets up at 2am and is in bed by 7:30/8pm. So, we have to make sure we eat as soon as he gets in from work (usually between 3:30 - 5:30) and stick as close to the schedule as possible in order to get in scriptures and read aloud time!!

Teresa - Our day starts with 6 am seminary.  We get home and fiddle around for a couple of hours.  If my teenage son needs to sleep, he does.  We have family scripture and prayer, personal prayer time (Katie writes her prayers in her prayer journal --while on her knees on her prayer rug--since she is not comfortable vocalizing)  then my son gets to his school work.  He wanted a schedule made of things for him to do.  We are always a work in progress.  This year, we are going to go more visual, use more academic videos from Netflix, and if they are interesting enough, we'll branch off of that.  We are going to use "The Privileged Planet" (which we bought from ldfr.com)  as our basis for science this year.  I may buy the book.

When my kids were younger, we had family scripture and prayer, said the pledge of allegiance, sang a song, using rhythm instruments or whatever they wanted to use, strum a guitar, play a harmonica--sort of--, then we got to our academics. We frequently went on field trips to the zoo, the hiking trails along the Gunpowder Falls for science or PE or recreation, taking notice of the forest along the way.  My gang has always been visual (I am a visual learner also), so I never felt guilty for using videos, songs and manipulatives--cubes, chalkboard, flashcards, etc, for learning.  Flexibility was our need.  Rigid schedules did not work for us. 

Tristan - We definitely schedule our day, though it is more of a 'routine'.  I have found my brood works and plays much better with a consistent routine to our day.  We have anchor points in our day (meals and snacks).  Here is our typical day:
6am - Mommy wakes up.  It is habit, there is no alarm clock.
7am - Kids up.  Breakfast and morning chores are done.
8:30am - Homeschool Block one.  What we do first, second, and third may change day to day, but this is homeschool time.
10:00am - Snack and break.
10:30am - Homeschool Block two.  What we do varies, but here we finish our work.
12:00pm - Lunch, one chore, and free time.
1:00pm - Quiet time.  The littlest ones nap while bigger kids read or listen to an audio book from their beds.  Mommy has quiet time too! 
2:00pm - The rest of the day is free.  We do chores right after each meal, read scriptures with dad when he's home, and play.  If a child has not finished homeschool work they complete it now.
9:00pm - bedtime!

Courtney - I've tried scheduling my days and have found it too overwhelming when I do stick to them (I always think there is more time in the day than there actually is) and too stressful and upsetting when I can't.  Instead I schedule my weeks.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote out a plan for the year.  This plan consisted of  a "perfect generic day from Heaven" schedule (which I have yet to look at since I wrote it) and a list of the courtneys schedulesources that I have on hand for the subjects I'll be teaching this year.

Every Day we have some Language Arts (at least three different L.A. activities a day, reading out loud, handwriting, journaling, spelling, poems, etc), Religious Studies, Math, a subject of the day (we alternate between science and history) and a book of the week (though it might take longer than a week to read it out loud to them).

On Saturdays or Sundays I write down what I want them to accomplish in each subject during the week, always keeping in mind that I may have to change things as the week goes on.  Then as we complete it, I check it off the list.

This is my big fat white board.  To be fair, I could easily have accomplished the same thing with a piece of paper, but I kind of like my big fat white board and I had one on hand...  One half is used for the school schedule, the other half is stuff I need to remember that week, grocery lists, plans for dinner, etc.

After a week or two we figured out how the schedule would work best, I put the subjects in permanent marker, so that when I make the plan for the next week, all I have to do is erase the lesson number and the subject itself stays on the board and the check mark.  The permanent marker comes off with rubbing alcohol.  To read more on Courtney’s schedule click here.

Dana – We do use a schedule, but it’s a flexible schedule.  I am  naturally a list maker and like things organized but I don’t like to feel pressured or enslaved by a schedule.  Our schedule looked like this before summer schooling:morning scheduleOur first morning block of school is for an hour and a half.  If my children focus and  work as they should, then they will have their work done before an hour is finished.  They are then able to enjoy some bonus free time before we need to move on to the next thing thus rewarding them for completing their task in a timely manner.  I purposely am generous with the time I allot for things to allow for this and retain some flexibility.

My oldest is now a full-time college kid, so our schedule where he is concerned will be different.  Another thing that will be different from the above schedule is that Mattie and Mason enjoy doing Spelling independently with Mom.  We’ve done this all summer and it works great! While one is doing Spelling, the other is working independently on Handwriting and Math.

Afternoons are for History and Science and free play.  I’ve found that since we read our way through History, it is easy to do most days because they beg for their book to be read aloud.  We also lapbook a chapter of Science each week - if it doesn’t fit in on Monday, then we shoot for Tuesday, if that doesn’t work, we aim for the next day.   

As you can see by the above schedule, we do not start early.  We all enjoy our free time in the morning.  It’s what works for us!

Montserrat - With so many children on different learning levels I have to run on a schedule! It helps everyone to know about what time certain things will happen. All the children know that I will have time to spend just with them, helping them with their school work. Our home is better organized and more clean running on a schedule. If you'd like to see our schedule and know more details about it you can read this post It's About TIME

Do you have a question you’d like to ask our author panel?  Just send us an email through our contact tab.  We’d love to hear from you.

July 22, 2010



In all the articles and posts I have written over the years, this has been the most difficult to write for two reasons. One, it is intensely personal, and second, I am not sure how coherent it will be. My prayer is that this article will be understood despite my failings as a writer, that the Spirit can make what I am trying to explain understandable.

These past months, I have discovered the power of the "acceptance" of my true feelings and thoughts. I have found in my discussions with friends and my husband, that it is likely that most of us suppress our true thoughts and emotions. I want to share a personal example of this:

Shortly after I started to homeschool, my two boys (ages 4 and 6) were causing a lot of problems in Primary. The Primary President was a good friend of mine and we were having a discussion about my boys. Because I was new to homeschooling, I was still dealing with the doubts of whether or not we had made the right decision in keeping them home. I asked her opinion about the situation, and she asked if I really wanted to know what she thought. I replied that I did. She then proceeded to tell me that she did not think it was a wise decision and explained the reasons why she believed the way she did.

Her comments surprised me, I had not believed her to be so adamantly opposed to homeschooling, and I felt judged by her. At the core, I felt angry and resentful, but I suppressed these feelings with telling myself things like, "I shouldn't be offended. I asked her to be honest...She was just giving me her opinion...She didn't mean to hurt me, why can't I get over this?", etc...

That discussion took place over two years ago. I have felt distant and aloof from her ever since our chat. The truth is, I have continued to suppress that anger and resentment and have never really "accepted" it or wanted to recognize it was there until now. I have tried to rationalize why I shouldn't be offended. I have tried to speak to her and "overcome" the anxiety I feel around her, but to no avail. I believe that none of these things have been successful because I have never admitted to myself, at the very core, she hurt me deeply, and it made me angry.

Now that I have truly "accepted" that I am angry, hurt, resentful, and feel judged, I can choose to go to the Lord and ask Him to help me soften my heart to forgive and finally be able to let it go. I could never make the choice to forgive before, because I never acknowledged my true feelings. I was always trying to rationalize my true feelings away. I find that I do this a lot in life with thoughts like, "I shouldn't be afraid, I shouldn't think that, I shouldn't get angry, I should just let it go," and so on. All these things I have found are just suppressions of what I am really thinking and feeling.

My goal now is to accept what I really feel and think, no matter how sad, or horrible it makes me feel. Some of this has been intensely painful and difficult. I realize that I think and, more importantly believe, things like 'I am a failure', 'I can never be consistent', 'I hate myself', 'I'm a horrible mother,' etc. We have been taught that these are negative thoughts and from Satan. I don't dispute this. The problem comes when I suppress them and don't face them head on. As I discover these "core beliefs" I realize that they are my perceptions, and they are my reality. If I believe, in my heart, that I am not a loving, nurturing, caring, or patient mother, I never will be. Try as I might to overcome that belief, it is still what I believe deep down in my heart. As I have started to explore and "accept" my core beliefs, I have compared them to what I know about God and His teachings, which I consider "True Reality". Do my perceptions match or are they in opposition to His teachings? If my perceptions are in opposition to God's reality, how do I change and overcome them? The first step, for me, has been "acceptance". We cannot change what we are not willing to accept and recognize is there. We must first take responsibility for our false beliefs or perceptions before we can choose to repent and change them.

Last month I took a little vacation all to myself, a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts. The whole purpose was for me to have the time to evaluate what I really believed about myself (my perceptions), and work to change those perceptions to mirror God's reality. The first morning I woke up and read in Alma chapter 26. Ammon is speaking about how the Lord has blessed them as they have been able to convert the Lamanites. He is rebuked by his brother for being "boastful" and this is his reply:

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak...

My first reaction was, "Really, Lord? I came all this way for you to tell me I'm weak? I already knew that!"

But thankfully, I continued to ponder this thought. Had I, at my core, accepted that I was completely nothing? That no matter how hard I try to prove my worthiness, I will always be an unprofitable servant? (Mosiah 2:21) It seems I have spent my whole life never being willing to accept that I am nothing. My perception was that I had to prove to myself, (and to God) that if I just worked hard enough, prayed enough, was consistent enough, etc, that I would be deserving of the Atonement. But God's reality is, I will never feel like I can do enough to deserve Christ's gift, because at the core, I don't deserve it and I never will. Is there anything so humbling as being given a gift that you know, unquestionably, you do not deserve? This reminds me of the priest in Les Miserables who gifted the candlesticks to Jean Valjean after he had been caught stealing other precious items. The acceptance of those candlesticks changed the course Valjean's life.

It is the ultimate paradox, I am of infinite worth as a daughter of God, but I will never be deserving of Christ's sacrifice. It is a gift I can never repay, nor earn or feel I deserve. The power, for me, lies in the acceptance of the Atonement and the acceptance of my unworthiness in receiving it. Truly accepting this has completely changed my perceptions in life. It has humbled me beyond belief and as I have partaken of the Grace that has so lovingly been bestowed upon me, I find myself pleading with God to help me love as He does. To serve and love others, to be allowed to be an instrument in His hands. I know that I can never repay this most miraculous gift, but I want to try. My purpose in serving others is no longer to prove my worthiness, but, in contrast, is an acknowledgement of my unworthiness.

We are all magnificent sons and daughters of God, and yet completely undeserving of Christ's gift for us. One may think that when one recognizes his/her nothingness that he/she will not be able to accomplish great things. But as we read again in Alma 26:

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. (emphasis added)

In recognizing and accepting my nothingness I can choose to partake of the Lord's strength and I, too, can accomplish "
mighty miracles". As I have read the scriptures I find prophets, time and time again, acknowledging their failings and weaknesses. Yet, I do not perceive these prophets and their examples as weak! They acknowledged their weaknesses, and the Lord made them strong! Ether 12:27 tells us precisely this!

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I pray that in honestly accepting and acknowledging my true feelings, emotions, weaknesses, and sins, God will do the same for me and I can be an instrument in His hands for good. After reading this article, my husband asked me why I choose to write about personal issues so often. My hope is that this will help those that read it to learn from my mistakes and trials and see how gracious, kind, patient, and loving our Heavenly Father is.

Jenny is the nutty mother of 5 kids and is married to a child psychologist (it's great to have psych help on site). Her varied ramblings are found at We don't call people poopyheads. Her interests are basically anything that makes her abnormal, such as homebirthing, homeschooling, herbalism and natural healing, holistic iridology, and a survivalist wanna-be, to name a few.

July 21, 2010

Web Wednesday

Photoxpress_4988004 Summer Fun

I’ll start off with a few fun summer activity/craft links.  First up is Frozen Fun from Counting Coconuts.  All you need for this cool activity is a container filled with water, your freezer and your imagination for what items you want to freeze and find.  Sure to keep a little ones attention!

For your older ones that are feeling crafty, you could create a flower and ladybug garden from recycled objects from My Family My Forever

Filth Wizardry has a super idea for a Treasure Tank using a large Rubbermaid container, tinted water, and items you could pick up at your local Dollar Store.  Browse Filth Wizardry if you’re feeling creative, you won’t believe some of the ideas you’ll see!

Reading and Phonics

The Adventures of Bear shared a wonderful resource for free literacy printables at Twinkl.  There are printables that make great placemats for reading during mealtimes, word games, flashcards and much more.  Check out their printables on telling time and counting while you’re there as well.

Check out this free Handmade Word Family game at The Snail’s Trail using paint chip cards.  I am using this with my five-year-old and we are both enjoying it.  Super quick to make too!

For preschoolers Counting Coconuts shares how to make your own Montessori style Alphabet Box.

For infants and toddlers La La Learning shares a neat DIY ABC Book using your own family photos.  I made one of these for my two-year-old and 10 month old and they love looking through it!

Before and Five In A Row Unit Ideas

Delightful Learning shares all of her links, ideas and activities for her BFIAR and FIAR unit studies with her preschooler and Kindergartener.  She has some very creative and unique things she is doing to make memories with her kids as they learn.  She also has a wonderful post on organizing and learning together with Five in a Row.

Now that you’ve gotten your head full of fun ideas and the creative juices are flowing—go create and have fun with your kids!

About-Our-Guest-Writer Susana is homeschool mom to four beautiful blessings and is loving and learning every day.  She enjoys sharing their homeschool and everyday adventures at My Family My Forever.

July 20, 2010

Summer Schedules

Summer is wonderful. It's a time for relaxing, soaking up the sun, swimming, playing, and making memories. Around our house though, summer has often turned into a time for a few too many video games, a little too much fighting, and way too many messes. When our school year ended we would have one blissful week of doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and then that bliss turned into something more like chaos and I found myself longing for the order of our school-year routines.  

This summer I have tried something new: a schedule. If you're anything like the old me you may feel like the words summer and schedule shouldn't be used together, but we have been doing it for six weeks and our summer is still sailing smoothly. Here's where I got the inspiration: Managers of Their Homes: A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families. I purchased the book this spring hoping to find answers on how to make it all work next school year with five children and my oldest starting into the middle school years. I originally thought I would wait and implement our schedules next school year, but I loved what I read so much that I thought I would give it a test run this summer. I am so glad I did.

If you are scheduling resistant, like I used to be, don't worry, we still have lots of time for free, unstructured play, but now we are also accomplishing all the things that I used to hope we would do during the summer, but never could seem to get to. Our schedules go something like this:
Our day is schedule in roughly 30 minute increments starting with our morning prayers and scripture study. In the mornings we schedule time for exercising, yard work, piano practice, reading and chores. In addition, each child has a 30 minute block of one-on-one time with mom in the mornings. This is one of the kids and my favorite parts about our new schedule. In the past I could never seem to find the time to devote my undivided attention to each child each day. In fact, they rarely got that time once a week. It is amazing how much it has strengthened my relationship with my children to have that time with them each day. The afternoons are much more laid-back. We have lunch, do our afternoon chores, and then have free time until it's time to get ready for dinner. I try to get projects done in the afternoon, but most of the time I spend it playing with our 3 year old dd and taking care of our 4 month old dd. The nice thing is that we accomplish so much in the morning that I can relax and give the younger ones the attention they need without feeling like there are a million other things I should be doing.

As with anything new, there were some growing pains at first. I was a little stressed the first few days trying to make sure we were sticking to the schedule. After tweaking a few things and getting everyone used to the new flow of our days, everything is now running pretty smoothly. I am really looking forward to seeing how this all works during the school year.  For now we will just enjoy our relaxing, and productive summer.

If you would like to see our actual printed schedule for summer, or the one I have planned for the school year, let me know in the comments and I will send you a link. I know it helped me immensely to see other people's schedules as I was trying to figure out ours. 

Andrea is the grateful mother of 5 wonderful children. She loves playing the piano, riding her bike, working in the garden, and dreaming of one day living on a farm. You can read more about her life and dreams on her Harvest Academy blog.

July 19, 2010

Who Am I?

After more than two decades of homeschooling, I've discovered why I homeschool. Helping my children learn the answer to the important question—who am I?— is my reason. And when you really think about it, isn't learning who we are the critical foundation for all other education?

I love this poem which expresses the feelings many of us have, who were taught the science of unbelief during our years at public school. Our homeschooled children never need be taught unbelief! Does this poem speak to you like it speaks to me? It thrills me, because truth leaps from this poem and confirms my hope that I am truly a child of God.

Who Am I?

Who am I, this being that I am, who walks the earth midst beings as myself?
Born was I of parents; who are they?
Why do I exist to walk a while and then depart?
Who am I, who takes up time and space,
Who motions vacillate, some bad some good,
Who feels the null and void of all of this, without the question answered,
Who am I?

By happenchance have I come about by some ornate confusion?
By happenchance have I grown from rudimentary species eons past evolved?
By happenchance? By happenchance am I a worthless piece of thing
So dross, so void, so much of nothingness that when I pass,
My passing is just passing into past?
Who am I?

This is who I am!
My spirit lived with my Father before the earth was formed.
I chose the path to follow when my first estate was done.
I came to earth for a body created like my Father's;
To unite my spirit and body, to make my soul divine.
This is who I am! I am a child of my Father.
I am a child of my Father, My Father! My Father in Heaven.
This is who I am! I am a child, I am a child of God!
This is who I am.

(excerpted from Change Your Questions, Change Your Life; Wendy Watson Nelson, pg. 215)

Knowing who you are makes all the difference in your education. It is your point of reference and how you relate to the world you live in, its people—your brothers and sisters, its creatures—your stewardship. I feel an urgency to teach my children at the earliest age who they are. Animals respond to urges, and are not accountable for their behavior. Children deserve to know that they are not evolved beings, not animals*, but literal children of God who, through right choices, may become like their true Father.

The scriptures and other resources from Church Distribution are the basis of this teaching, but Christian science resources have helped me reinforce teaching my children who they really are. Here are some of my favorites:

Apologia Science books

Biology 101 DVD course

Unlocking the Mystery of Life

The Privileged Planet

Answer the question of who am I? early in your child's education, and reinforce it daily. It will make all the difference!

Diane Hopkins is the mother of 7 children: 4 college-graduated, 2 still at BYU and 1 still in homeschool. Visit her blog or website.

*Boyd K. Packer, Little Children, Ensign magazine, November 1986
Also see, The Pattern of Our Parentage, Ensign, November 1984

July 17, 2010

Help Wanted!

Help sign

Latter-day Homeschooling is needing some help.  We are looking for blog hoppers for Web Wednesday posts and guest writers.

Blog Hoppers for Web Wednesday:

Blog hoppers need to collect links of interest to include in a post. Please see Web Wednesdays for ideas.  There is a much easier way to do this than visiting tons of blogs.  If you are interested please let me know.

Guest Writers:

Guest writers are needed for Saturday Postings.  My stash has run out.  You may guest post more than once.  Here are some ideas for posts. You may also come up with your own.

  • Wading through the many curriculum choices
  • Tutorials (on projects of various subjects – Science, History, Sewing, Organization,Money savers, Writing prompts, lapbooking, notebooking, Timelines, Map Work, Life Skills, Etc.
  • Virtual Schooling
  • Favorite things about  homeschooling
  • Special Needs
  • Homeschooling Triumphs
  • Homeschooling Challenges
  • Dad’s role in Homeschooling
  • Working while Homeschooling
  • How to plan your homeschooling year using free resources
  • Knowing when to take a break
  • How to motivate yourself and children
  • What to do when your child hits a  stumbling block
  • How to choose the WRONG curriculum for your family
  • Keeping up with the Jones

Guest posts do not need to be long, although they can be.  Often times a simple thought or quote says a lot.  You don’t even have to submit a picture – I’ll take care of that for you unless you have a personal photo you would like to use that relates appropriately.


I want to take the time to remind all our writers that even if your post doesn’t get many comments, it doesn’t mean people didn’t like your post.  I personally have many of your own blogs in my reader but I don’t comment many times for whatever reason (lack of time usually) and I read some great stuff. 

On the other hand, if you as a reader enjoy someone’s post will you please let them know that  you appreciate what they’ve shared?  I will be making changes to the look of the blog soon.  Nothing major, I want to keep it simple.  When I do, you will see a “like” button.  If you like what you’ve read you can easily click that if you don’t have time to comment.  We’d all appreciate it.☺

You can respond to our HELP WANTED AD by emailing us at guestwriter(at)latter-dayhomeschooling(dot)com.  If you have questions about any of these opportunities you can email the same address.

Thank you.

July 16, 2010

Story Paddle Boards

Many of our family home evening lessons have stories with pictures.  I used to hold up a picture and tell the words to the story that went along with the picture until my sister-in-law came up with the idea of using a paddle board to hold the story using binder rings.

The words of the story are typed up then glued to the back of the pictures so the words on the back of a picture go along with the next picture.

Let me illustrate what I mean. My daughter is holding the paddle board with the title page of the story showing. She flips the title page over so the first picture will show to the “audience.”

The “audience”  sees the picture of Spencer W. Kimball while she sees the words that go along with the picture. They were taped to the back of the title page.

When my daughter is done reading the words, she flips the picture of Spencer W. Kimball to the back and reads the words taped on the back of it that go along with the next picture that the “audience” sees.

The paddle boards are a great teaching tool for Primary and Family Home Evening when you want to share a story with pictures. The stories we use come from the the Beginning Gospel Course Kit CD-Rom. This is a great resource for teaching Primary Children. It has 55 illustrated (well done pencil sketches) true stories that go along with gospel lessons also contained on the CD.

Here’s the pattern we used. Just click on the pattern to enlarge in a bigger screen to print off. Follow the directions and measurements to create your own paddle board.

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, sewing, and playing a good game of Scrabble. She thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth. You can follow her family's varied adventures at Chocolate on my Cranium.