Make a List of Why You Homeschool

Make a List of Why You HomeschoolIt’s been a rough week in our homeschool. I have had all the negative aspects of homeschooling thrown in my face on a daily basis such as that struggle to be both parent and teacher simultaneously. My children have fought me on nearly every assignment this week.

I need to stop and take a look at an altar of remembrance — a reminder of all the reasons why I homeschool and all the positive things it brings me and my family.

Maybe you’re right there with me. I’ll share my list, and then you sit down and make your own list. of what’s good and positive about homeschooling.

The Best Parts of Homeschooling

  • Being there when your child gets it in math or any subject.
  • Teaching your child to read.
  • Seeing older siblings help younger siblings with their schoolwork.
  • Hearing your teen tell you how much they enjoy a subject.
  • Learning something new alongside your child.
  • That rare moment when you’re reading aloud and they’re all listening.
  • When your kids finish their lessons early and are able to play together.
  • Any time your child is excited about something they learned and comes to tell you all about it.
  • Seeing your child lost in a good book.
  • Watching your preschool children learn as they are surrounded by their older siblings busy at schoolwork.
  • Hearing your children discuss their lessons with each other.
  • Hearing your children bring their lessons to life in their playtime.
  • Knowing you were there for your kids all day long, investing in them.
  • Knowing they’re learning more than just facts but life lessons as well.
  • Knowing they’re using a curriculum that you have chosen and approve.
  • Seeing the strong relationship your children have with each other.
  • Knowing you’ve given them a culture of learning.

I don’t see these special moments every single day. Many days I have to cling to the fact that I’m being faithful to the calling God has put on my life—He called my husband and me to homeschool. We’re following Him, and that’s good.

If you keep a journal, write down the good things as you experience them. Any time you have one of those moments where you think, “This is why I homeschool,”write it down! There will be days when you will need to look back at that list for encouragement of a reminder why you are homeschooling.

Write it down so it can be a testament to you. Like the Old Testament altars and pillars that allowed the Israelites to say “that is where God did something powerful,” you can look back at your list and say “That is why I homeschool.” and “That moment shows me I’m doing the right thing.”

Share that list with someone close like your husband or good friend. Share the blessings with them, because I’m sure they hear all about the struggles. Build a written altar, a paper pillar, and tell someone, “Look what God did in our homeschool today!”

Look at the good moments and be encouraged.

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Fall Into Sensory Bins: Indoor Nature Exploration

Indoor Nature Exploration

The fall months are a great time to take children on outdoor excursions. Such outings can provide children with many opportunities to use their senses to explore nature. Children can use their eyes to search for leaves of varying colors or use their hands to touch the smooth surface of an acorn or the jagged sections of a pinecone.

Young ones can hone their auditory skills as they carefully listen for the sounds of animals scurrying up and down trees or darting over and under the dry, crackling leaves. They can breathe in the sweet smells of the apple orchard and taste the warm cinnamon applesauce made from the juicy apples they’ve picked.

But what happens if chilly fall rains or strong winds prevent children from the fun of an outdoor exploration? Do we have to declare the day a total loss? Do our children have to miss out on engaging and stimulating experiences? Certainly not!

We can take advantage of these indoor moments and introduce our children to the joys of sensory bins.

These fun and easy to create bins can provide children with lots of opportunities for sensory exploration inside the home.

In fact, we can easily create fall themed sensory bins for our children that will showcase fall’s finest offerings and pique their interest!

But first, let’s learn a bit more about sensory bins. 

What are sensory bins?

A sensory bin is a small plastic bin or tub filled with materials to stimulate a child’s senses. The bins often contain items that are colorful, scented, multi-textured, and sound inducing. Many sensory bins are created around a theme that unifies the contents and provides additional learning opportunities.

Why use sensory bins?

First and foremost, sensory bins are fun! Children love to dig through the bins to find a variety of interesting objects. In addition, sensory bins are a great way to help children develop essential skills such as sorting, counting, transferring, and matching.

  • Sorting means taking items from the bin and separating them into groups according to size, shape, color, etc.
  • Counting involves identifying how many items have been extracted from the bin.
  • Transferring includes moving the bin’s objects from one container to another by way of scooping, pouring, dumping, funneling, or sifting.
  • Matching means identifying objects that belong together, such as two interlocking puzzle pieces or two halves of a plastic egg.
  • Hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills are also developed as children use tongs, magnets, or tweezers to remove objects from the bin.

How does one create a sensory bin?

  • Choose a container with a lid that seals tightly. Lids prevent spills and help keep unwanted things out of the sensory bin. Lids also make it easy to stack sensory bins.
  • Add filler to the container. Rice, sand, beans, and beads are all excellent fillers, but yellow popcorn kernels make a great fall filler.
  • If you want to add scent, consider adding a single drop of essential oil to the filler. Stir to distribute the scent evenly. Consider an inviting fall scent like cinnamon or pumpkin.
  • Hide objects in the bin. Head outside to pick up acorns and little pinecones or pick up fall themed items (miniature pumpkins, little scarecrows, colorful leaves,) at your local dollar store.
  • Drop in a few spoons, scoops, cups, and funnels so children can play with and search through the contents of the bin.

Help make the this season a special one for your learners. Gather up some neat materials and let your child fall in love with a sensory bin

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Save on All American History

Sale All American History

We have put our engaging, Christian history program All American History on sale at 15% off* until Thanksgiving Day. The last day to get these discounts is November 25, 2015.

Learn More About All American History


SALE! All American History Volume 1 Student Activity Book
SALE! All American History Volume 1 Student Reader
SALE! All American History Volume 1 Teacher Guide
SALE! All American History Volume 1 High School Test Packet (Download)
SALE! All American History Jr. Volume 1 (Download)

See all Volume 1 products.


SALE! All American History Volume 2 Student Reader
SALE! All American History Volume II “Teacher Guide
SALE! All American History Volume II Student Activity Book
SALE! All-American History Volume II High School Test Packet
SALE! All American History Jr. Volume 2 (Download)

See all Volume 2 products.

*Sale does not apply to All American History bundles/sets, co-op licenses, or clearance items.

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Christopher Columbus Day Unit Study

Christopher Columbus Unit Study for Homeschool

This year while studying The Mystery of History, Volume III, we covered Christopher Columbus.  Since we were quite enthralled with him, we took a break from our Illuminations schedule and indulged in a Christopher Columbus unit study.  Because Columbus Day is coming up, I share our experience in case you want to have a special Columbus unit study.

Side note: isn’t it nice as homeschoolers to have the freedom to stop the lessons and spend more time with things we’re interested in?  Never be afraid to skip the plan when your children are inquisitive about a topic. That’s one of the best parts of homeschooling!

Sailor’s tools

We started our unit by making our own sailor’s tools.  We made a quadrant and built a chip log (to measure speed). We even prepared dried food similar to what sailors would have eaten though we left out the ale.

The kids were fascinated to discover all they could learn from fairly simple materials.  Ours were not the most accurate you can find, but they certainly were happily used for lots of pretend play.

Learning about navigation and sea travel

Next we learned about sea travel.  In Columbus’s time navigators were just starting to learn about sea currents. Imagine not knowing why your ship is suddenly going a different direction than you planned or not knowing what lies over the next wave. That took a lot of bravery.

We learned how salinity affects water currents and how tropical water acts differently than arctic waters.  Then finally we studied about currents caused by winds.

It was fascinating to discover all of the ways what we can’t see affects how the water moves. And I was able to inject a lot of science into this unit study that way.

That led to a presentation to Ferdinand and Isabella

After all, Christopher Columbus had to convince the king and queen to fund his expedition, and it made a great time for the kids to practice their presentation skills.  All three of my kids made maps, model ships (out of LEGOs of course), and worked super hard for a week to persuade the Spanish monarchy.  They all did a stunning job, and I was quite impressed with their overall work.

Finally we learned what happened because of Christopher Columbus’s discovering America

Do you enjoy spaghetti with marinara sauce or potatoes?  Both of those are New World foods.  I certainly don’t associate them with the New World.  I associate tomatoes with Italy and Italian cooking.  I associate potatoes with Ireland.

But neither of these items originally came from those countries.

The Mariner’s Museum has an extensive list for The Great Exchange. (Don’t confuse it with The Great Exchange Martin Luther talks about concerning Jesus Christ. That’s a lesson for several weeks later in The Mystery of History, Volume III).

Imagine the horror of a world without salsa.  Tomatos, chili peppers, and maize are all from the New World.  My life would be a much sadder place without the Great Exchange.

Oh, that’s right we did one other thing — maps of exploration

We made giant maps of everywhere Columbus went from our much smaller WonderMaps.  He had quite an impressive listing of discoveries for that short period of time.

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What You Can Learn About Homeschooling by Watching Little Ones

What You Can Learn About Homeschooling by Watching Little Ones

Over the course of my seven years as a homeschool mom, I have learned quite a bit:

Those lessons have been learned through dozens of discussions with fellow homeschool moms. But as great as those lessons are, the most valuable lessons have come by watching and listening to my children, especially the wee ones.

So what can our little ones — those beautiful bundles of energy who excitedly dash from activity to activity —teach us? It turns out they can teach us quite a bit. We simply need to slow down and observe their behavior. And though some may see the behavior of little ones as erratic, a closer look at the behavior reveals it is both purposeful and educational. Here are six homeschool lessons we can learn from the little ones.

Simple is better

Planning and executing fancy homeschool projects and activities can be fun, but doing so is not always necessary. Just as our little ones can find joy in playing with the box rather than its contents, we can find joy in simple homeschool activities such as read alouds and one-on-one time.

Just be you

Comparing ourselves to fellow homeschool moms is never a wise move. Our little ones don’t waste precious time trying to be like everyone else on the playground. Instead, many children forge their own paths and do things their way because that’s what works best. We can make our homeschools great by being ourselves and not feeling as if we have to imitate other moms.

Fight through fear

Little ones are often unhindered by fear. They’ll climb the tallest slide ladder, jump from the highest rung, and then run over to tell us all the fantastic details. If we could banish fear, imagine all the wonderful things we could do during our homeschool day. Let’s pray, face our fears, and go for it!

Messy can be marvelous

As adults, we often view messes as unpleasant things to clean up. On the contrary, our little ones see messes as chances to explore and express creativity. While making messes in paint, wee ones create exciting colors. Through messy play, little ones find new uses for everyday things. Why not get messy with our kids and see what we learn in the process?

Now is the most important time

You won’t find our young children wishing the day away. They do not plan events weeks and months in advance. Instead, little ones seize the moment and savor the current day. They understand each is a gift and they commit to fully enjoying each day. We don’t want to miss out on the beauty of our present homeschool day because we’re too busy planning future days.

Perseverance pays off

Wee ones are known for their tenacity. If they can’t do something the first time, they’ll usually keep trying until they achieve the desired results. And so it should be with us. Homeschool setbacks ought not stop us. Rather, we should follow the example of our young children by reviewing the situation and trying again until we find success.

When it comes to our little ones, we often see ourselves teaching them. But, many times it’s the other way around. We are the students and our young children are our accidental, but highly effective teachers. The next time your little one is doing something that seems completely random, slow down and take look at what he’s doing. You just might learn something valuable!

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4 Ways Maps Can Be Fun

4 Ways Maps Can Be Fun
Maps are a necessary part of learning about  where of events — historical, current, or fictional.  They can be used to decorate walls, help you find your way, or, for some, be the boring part of an assignment.  Maps can be works of art or simple sketches. There are many ways maps can be fun.

Make Maps Personal

The more a child relates to a map, the more interesting it will be to him.  Start small, drawing a map of his bedroom; bonus points for measuring and drawing to scale (yay, math!).  A next step would be to map the yard.  Does your child need something a bit more challenging?  Make a map of your neighborhood or town.  Show the typical routes taken for weekly errands and activities.

Make Maps Hands-on

A flat map on a piece of paper can be a great starting point.  Hands-on map projects are not just for younger learners.  My middle schoolers love this aspect of mapwork.  Add texture and dimension to show the landscape and terrain.  Attach leaves, sand and other objects to indicate deserts, grasslands and more.

Exploring trade routes of spice traders?  Attach a cinnamon stick on Sri Lanka, whole oregano leaves to Greece, and ginger on southern China.  While you are raiding the pantry, locate the dry beans and pasta.  These are great to add more texture and color to a map.  Salt dough is a popular option for shaping and forming a three dimensional map.

Make Maps Physical

To make a map more fun for active learners, you need to get out and use a map.  Orienteering is a great way to use a compass and map to make your way.  There are orienteering groups that stage events or you could strike out on your own at a park.

Geocaching and letterboxing are other ways to add a physical element to mapwork.  Geocaching is dependent upon technology (GPS and geocaching apps) while letterboxing is less technology dependent though websites are used to find the clues to a letterbox.

Another way to make maps physical is by building a scale map or map feature in your yard. We had fun constructing a small scaled Great Wall of China across the backyard.

Make Maps Fictional

Make a treasure map —either a functional map that will lead to real hidden “treasure” in your backyard or a completely fictional map.  We made treasure maps one summer as we read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Historical fiction is easy to make a map from because you can start with a map of the actual location. WonderMaps is perfect for this.  Is the locale completely fictional?  Use the descriptions given throughout the story and some imagination to make your own map to complement the story.

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Do you use any of these ways to make maps fun?

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