Mom Monday Week 30 – Ripe Raspberries

Posted on

Sometimes you just need to eat raspberries slowly to wake up to the sanctity of the now. Ripe, juicy, sweet, tart, red raspberries.

I am reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Finally. I have been circling and circling around this book, avoiding it because it is a New York Times Bestselling Book. Sometimes bestsellers disappoint me. So I did not have the courage to pick it up.

But then, thankfulness seems to be the answer to all my questionings.  Continue reading »

I am reading Ms. Voskamp’s book and I am blessed. I am learning to slow down.

I have been so busy this summer. Why? I don’t know.

mom monday wk30

This is a new experience for me. Summers have always meant really, really hot and slow days. Slow. Not this summer. Soccer camp, zoo outings, violin lessons, Safety City, swim lessons, summer reading programs, reading to the kids, starting a history curriculum, finishing up my second book, Alliance Française meetings, Maker Faire…

We did not even attend everything we wanted to. For the first time since I became a mother, I missed VBS. What?? That’s right. We had a conflict with another event we had signed up for before they announced the VBS dates.

I have yet to make it to the Heritage Center in Townsend where they have amazing workshops for children in the morning. I also would have liked to take them to the Museum of Art. No chance.

Why this busyness? Maybe because they are older and we find more programs suitable for them.

“…urgent means slow… the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence,” writes Ann Voskamp. “Life at its fullest is this sensitive, detonating sphere, and it can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried and reverential – a bubble held in awe.”

And so I started turning people down when they asked me to teach another class (I already teach four) or when they asked me to show them real estate (I still have a license, but don’t use it much).

Because classes to teach will always be there and real estate will always be there, but my children are only small once. I plan on shedding some of my other responsibilities later this year, when my tenure comes to an end. I believe in being responsible and finishing up a job started.

But I want to live life slowly. More slowly than what we are doing now.

Are you in awe at ripe raspberries this morning? Are you taking it slowly?


Story of the World, Vol. 1, Chapter 4

Posted on

We made the crafts or, rather, our own version of the crafts suggested in Chapter 4. But before that, we checked on our Nile river model. It had dried up under the overhang of our roof, so we overflowed the Nile river to water the grass seed. We can already see some tiny blades of grass.

Instead of the sand-cube step pyramid suggested in the Activity Book, I opted for a DUPLO pyramid. I asked my son, a LEGO fan, to build me a DUPLO pyramid. He built me one out of 10 DUPLO bricks. I told him I wanted a bigger one. He brought me another small one, then another. I decided that was the sign that he needed some help.  Continue reading »

Once I set the parameters and showed him how big the base had to be, he got it. But he wanted me to build with him. I was more than happy to. Even my daughter pitched in, putting her DUPLO princess beds inside the pyramid with a DUPLO figure, as a mummy (the inside is not shown in the picture, unfortunately).

DUPLO Pyramid

We built a DUPLO Pyramid. It took about 10 minutes.

Then, I opted out of mummifying a chicken (the horror!). Instead, we made hot dog mummies using this recipe with one tiny modification, – well, not tiny! – because we are vegetarian. We used Big Franks (vegetarian hot dogs which come in cans). My mustard bottle has a large hole, so it was hard to get the eyes just right.

But my son and I had fun putting this together and stretching the bandages over the “mummies.” In fact, we talked so much about our mummies, it was hard to eat the finished product. My daughter especially had a hard time. She barely picked at her plate. All theoretical grossness aside, they were delicious (with more mustard).

We baked mummies out of Big Franks and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.

We baked mummies out of Big Franks and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.

Last but not least, we found Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile at the library – miracle of all miracles! We did not have to request an ILL on this one.

We are taking a couple of weeks off school, before we start gearing up for the next school year. However, we keep reading the SOTW literature suggestions and will make different history crafts. That’s not “school.” It’s fun!


Apologia: Flourish Book Review

Posted on

I love reading and I love organizational tips. So you can imagine how glad I was to read and review Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms, by Mary Jo Tate, published by Apologia Educational Ministries. This book contains everything a homeschooling mom needs to organize her life AND her way of thinking.

The most important thing in the book are not so much the forms and the organizational principles, as much as the philosophy underlying everything, i.e. that your goal should be balancing your many roles and tasks throughout the day and the years, not juggling them. The image you should have in your mind, as a homeschooling mom trying to do it all, is not that of a juggler, throwing things in the air so you can catch the urgent ones ready to hit the floor. Instead, you should imagine a tight-rope walker, carefully making small adjustments, as she advances to the other side.  Continue reading »

Flourish Cover

This book is for moms and it was written specifically for homeschooling moms. If you have your own business while homeschooling, you will find it even more tailored to your needs. But, if you don’t, think as one of the ladies quoted in the book said, “my business is homeschooling.” You save the family thousands of dollars every year by homeschooling and not enrolling your children in private schools. So the principles given for your own business could also easily be applied to everything you do in homeschooling.

The author’s story is impressive: when her fourth son was only six months old, her husband left her. Life as she knew it came to an end. Can you imagine the heartache and the confusion for her and for her sons? She was determined to homeschool though. So she prayed and struggled and found a way to work from home as an editor, seminar creator, and writer so she could continue on with her calling.

Flourish-Mary-Jo-Tate

You know, that really inspires and encourages me. All these moms out there rolling their eyes at me when they hear I homeschool and whispering, “I could not do that…” Well, here’s proof positive that homeschooling can be done even as a – gasp! – work-at-home single mom of four sons.

When I first read about this book, I expected some “Ra-Ra!” message for homeschooling moms, from the pen of a pampered stay-at-home homeschooling mom, whose husband is a doctor or lawyer. I thought, “Surely, the author will be quoting Scripture and tell us to not get weary in well-doing…” I am glad to tell you I was wrong. Ms. Tate does quote Scripture, but the book is not as predictable as I thought. Plus, I find it quite useful with all the tips and tricks for organizing time and home and homeschooling.

So yes, it’s inspirational because of Ms. Tate’s story, but it’s really a practical book. Most of the principles you may have heard before from Zig Ziglar and other motivational, organizational gurus. She quotes them herself. But Ms. Tate applies them to homeschooling moms and that’s the reason why you should buy the book. It’s a 289-page paperback filled with forms for your to use over and over again. Once you buy it, you will receive a code to access these forms online and print them out as you see fit. The books costs $15.

Apologia Logo

At the end of every chapter, there are assignments for you to do before you  go on, under the heading, “Take Action!” Personally, I found out a lot about myself as I took the time to fill out the forms and think about the questions. The shocker for me was when I answered the question, “What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself?” My answer was so completely not related to the Big Dream I had described in previous questions. It came from the left field and taught me much about myself.

But then, when I stopped and thought about it, it made perfect sense. If I could just change this one thing about me, my self-confidence would grow and then I would be able to accomplish the Big Dream. For me, these exercises were crucial in getting any benefit from this book. It’s not a novel you read and get a few moments of pleasure from. It’s a workshop which requires active participation. The book came out of her workshop called “How Do You Do It All?”.

Throughout the book, there are inspirational quotes from famous people, as well as from homeschooling moms the author has counseled and coached over the years. Here’s one by Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” One of the moms in Ms. Tate’s “How Do You Do It All?” class says, “A big key to success for me is that the more I write down, the less I have in my brain. The less I have swirling around in my brain, the better I can focus on the task at hand without having to worry about what is next or if I’m forgetting anything. And I’m actually less irritable with my children.”

So if you are overwhelmed or just slightly unbalanced in your homeschooling experience, let Ms. Tate take you on this journey. First, she will invite you to flourish, then to change your mind about how you view your life (balancing, not juggling). In the third chapter, you will find the FREEDOM toolbox, an acronym for Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, Multitask, Use Your Tools Wisely, Take Action!

From Chapter 4, the real fun begins. You are to keep a time log for every 30-minute interval in your day. You know, kind of like people who are keeping track of the calories they ingest, so they can get a better picture of their diet. This exercise is brilliant. You will learn much about where you squander your minutes. Chapter 5 is all about setting goals, the why and the how. Chapter 6 will give you the seven essential planning tools.

This is where Ms. Tate allows you to skip one or two forms if it all seems like overkill in the beginning. I like her flexibility. She explains she experimented with dropping some of these forms but it all became a mess, so she added them back on. In all honesty, that’s where I’m at. It seems like busy work, but I have not tried it yet for my opinion to really matter. I do, however, plan to walk myself through the whole planning process the way she describes it for the next calendar year, and see what results I get.

The rest of the book I will not present here. You will have to get your own copy and enjoy it and let it organize your life and your way of thinking.

To connect with the book online, here are the Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FlourishAtHome
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryjotate

Click to read Crew Reviews 
 

Crew Disclaimer

Mom Monday Week 29 – Gratitude

Posted on

Lately, I have been receiving the same message from different sources of inspiration – which makes it bold and strong in my heart, because I realize Providence really wants me to get this. Ready? Here it is: Be thankful. Feel grateful. Count blessings. The glass IS half full.

On her gracious blog, Ann Voskamp recommends that we fight feeling with feeling. That makes a lot of sense.  Continue reading »

As I read Attitudes of Gratitude, the same message came through. If you feel angry, think of something that makes you thankful. Like, the house did not fall on us last night. The more outrageous, the better. It might even make you smile.

When I read Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, the authors reminded me to step back and take a deep breath when things heat up between my children. That’s the moment to remember how thankful I am for having the gift of these children. They teach me patience and help me grow in my character.

Devotional for Homeschool Moms

As we started memorizing 1 Corinthians 13, my children and I talked about what true love is. How can I feel love toward somebody else if I am busy feeling self-pity?

So back to Ann Voskamp – fight feeling with feeling. Replace self-pity with gratitude for the things you do have.

If you are able to read this blog post, that means you have internet access somewhere, somehow. Just to have that – internet access – is a blessing. I know, I know, it can easily be a curse, too, but let’s stay positive and grateful, OK? :)

If you are able to read this, you have eyes to see – how wonderful! You are not blind.

If you are able to read this, you may have felt God’s calling to homeschool – imagine that! The Almighty had and has a job for YOU! What a privilege to work for Him!

If you are able to read this, you take time to feed your soul by fellowshipping with other homeschooling moms in the blogosphere – there is wisdom in the multitude of counselors. That says a lot about your commitment to spirituality. Congratulations for taking a moment to feed your soul.

Do you see how gratitude takes care of negative feelings?

This post contains affiliate links.

 


Story of the World, Volume 1, Chapter 2

Posted on

Chapter 2 of Story of the World Volume 1 is called “Egyptians Lived on the Nile River.” It would be really easy to spend three months on this chapter. We spent almost three weeks.

I read the first section to them, “Two Kingdoms Become One,” and we looked at our wall world map to locate Egypt and the Nile river. We did the map work recommended, Student Page 6. With that fresh in mind, we built a model of the Nile according to the directions given in the Activity Book. My Egyptians got very sow-happy with the grass seed, as you can see from the picture.

Nile River Model

Our Nile River Model, Day 1. I should probably take pictures in three weeks, too.

We read “The Longest River” as a substitute book for “The Nile River,” but it seemed extremely dry and boring. I’m all for nonfiction books. Yet, my children just could not get excited about this one. Not all nonfiction books are created equal, obviously.  Continue reading »

What I learned through this switch is that, if my library does not have a particular title, I may have to buy it. The library’s “equivalent” may be free, but we may not get anything out of it, either.

The Nile River Map

Map Work

It helps that during our Bible class/devotional we are working through Old Testament stories. Egypt gets mentioned again and again. The idolatry, the abundance of water and crops, etc.

So I made the connection for them with the Nile. I think it gives the kids a better understanding of our history lessons. I really like linking our subjects through the backbone of history.

One other craft I found cute and easy to make, relatively speaking, is a pharaoh’s headdress inspired by this blog.

Pharaoh's Headdress

My daughter wearing the headdress we put together.

I read the second section to them a few days later – “Gods of Ancient Egypt.” My son said he enjoyed the story. A few days passed before I asked him to color the Osiris and Set coloring page. He remembered the story and told me the plot in one sentence. I did not even have to ask him.

These narration exercises are interesting to me because sometimes I have to ask him questions to get him to talk about the story, while other times I don’t need to do anything. He just starts talking about it and gives me the story in a nutshell.

We also read Egyptian Gods and Goddesses and found it rather creepy. The kids were almost afraid of some of the pictures in there. We did not read it again. Usually, we read books several times. Not this one.

Osiris and Set

My son chose to color only the coffin. I thought it was a great way to summarize the story and emphasize the main idea.

As you can tell, I am still getting used to the whole teaching process. There are so many things to prepare and so many manipulatives to bring out. Then, the lesson itself happens super fast. My children move on to other things and I am left to clean up the mess. We went outside on the patio to prepare the Nile river model. The sandbox is on the patio, too. As soon as we flooded the Nile and watered the grass seed, the kids moved on to the sand box. I was happy, because my other goal was for them to play outside after we finished history. So it worked out.

I am explaining this lest my readers think I have it all figured out and brim with self-confidence. I don’t. It’s OK to tackle this homeschooling thing with butterflies in your stomach. It really is.

As you can tell from his map work and coloring page, I don’t require perfection. He is only six and I accept his best effort and praise him for it. Just because we study ancient history in the first grade and lean towards classical education does not mean we are perfectionists.


HomeSchoolPiano Review

Posted on

For the past couple of months we have had the privilege of learning piano from HomeSchoolPiano, an online subscription program created by Willie Myette. Besides the lessons, which are 10-minute videos, we also received access to HomeSchoolPiano – Complete Set of Books. These three books (PDFs you must print yourself) will take you from an absolute beginner level all the way to the advanced level of creating different arrangements in various musical styles.

HSPianoLogo

Continue reading »

These online piano lessons are for all ages. Willie is very engaging. He tells jokes and makes intentional mistakes to see if you are paying attention. He repeats concepts several times in the course of the lesson so that new ideas will stick. As long as your child understands English, he should be able to follow along.

HSPianoScreen

Some of the lessons have some practice and others are more theoretical. So, besides piano techniques and posture, you also get music theory, which is very helpful, especially if you yourself have never had musical training.

I took four years of piano as a child growing up in Romania, so I don’t need the basics, but I like to hear these lessons anyway because of specific musical terms and vocabulary in English. I will give you an example. The treble clef in Romanian is called the G clef. Well, in my son’s music theory book, which we got from Amazon at the recommendation of our violin teacher, the treble clef is the treble clef. It’s not called anything else but the treble clef.

HomeSchoolPiano Tablet

In his introduction of the treble clef, Willie explains that there are two names for this symbol: the treble clef OR the G clef. Thank you, Willie! I’m a linguist and words and terminology are important to me. This might not be a big deal for somebody else, but it was for me. I feel more informed about the English musical terms and vocabulary.

HSPianoBinderCDs

All you need to use this curriculum is internet access. As you saw above, the site can be viewed from mobile devices, as well.

You can purchase HomeSchoolPiano in two ways, because they provide two payment packages. The pricing is as follows:

1. Success Package (One payment of $299)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students. 

2. Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students. 

There are so many benefits to learning a musical instrument. But time to drive to and from a piano teacher’s studio may be an issue for your already crowded schedule. Money may be an issue as well.

A typical 30-minute instrument lesson can be around $40. If your child takes weekly lessons, you will have spent around $300 in two months. HomeSchoolPiano is a great value when you look at it that way, because you get a lifetime subscription and work at your child’s pace. Not to mention, if your family is smaller than six members, everybody in the family can learn!

To introduce this curriculum to my children, I just logged into my account and started playing the first video lesson. They came running. They heard a new voice and they rushed to see what it was. They watched the first couple of lessons with rapture. The two keyboards on the screen looked very different, I suppose. Plus, Willie can be funny.

When he gave them the assignment to find all the Cs on the piano, they ran to the piano. That’s how I realized that I need to take my laptop with the video lessons into the room with the piano.

The following day, I started the lessons in the same room with the piano. My son proudly demonstrated all the Cs on the piano. My daughter is only four and she did not know what to do. She learned as she watched her older brother.

And so we continued with less and less interest from my youngest – although she hangs around when we do the lessons and practices. She learns by osmosis, like any younger sibling.

My son, on the other hand, has learned a few things directly, not by osmosis. I think the most important thing for him at this point was the grab technique. The tissue trick was great. My son was spreading his pinky all over the piano key and no matter how much I told him to hold his hand together as if he were holding a tennis ball, he would not do it. But we practiced grabbing the key with a tissue and then I only had to remind him twice. His hand position is greatly improved.

Overall, the curriculum is easy to use, but it can get a bit boring in places. My son lost interest after a few lessons and it was rather difficult to get him excited about it again. I liked it for me, but I am an adult. I suppose an older child or a really motivated child would find it easier to use.

HomeSchoolPiano Six Step Technique

Here are the social media links for HomeSchoolPiano:
 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolPiano
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jazzedge
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jazzedge/

 

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Wonderful Wednesday – Ad-Hoc Science

Posted on

My plan was to spend at least two hours outside today. We are playing catch-up with time outside.

It has been raining lately and I have been busy with different projects, so I did not make outdoorsy time a priority. My children play so well indoors, away from screens, and I did not want to deal with bugs and/or DEET and sunscreen (there, I said it!) – it was easy to forget how important it is for them to be outside.

Well, we ended up spending five hours. We left after two hours because I had a planning meeting with other Sevier County Homeschooling Group moms, then they had swims lessons. On the way back from swim lessons, we stopped at the park again, for almost three hours.  Continue reading »

It’s called Mills Park and it has a playground, a covered pavilion with picnic tables, several benches, a creek running by, a disc golf course, restrooms, outdoor sinks, grills and a wonderful grassy hill, perfect for rolling down on.

Children rolling down the grassy hill at Mills Park

My children rolling down the grassy hill at Mills Park

I don’t know why we don’t go to Mills Park every day. We should.

Oh, I know why. Because I used to be really bothered by their getting wet in the creek or muddy in the puddles around the playground.

I have since transcended that. The more I read about how time spent outside helps children reverse myopia or not develop it at all, the more I want them to spend time outside – no matter what the cost. That’s why we do laundry, right?

The more I read about how time spent outside helps children do better in science, the more I want them to explore and dig and analyze and take note of bugs, bees, trees, birds and everything in between.

Today I heard a mother scold her toddler rather harshly about his getting in the muddy area. I cringed but looked down at my shoes because that mother used to be me. My kids could not help but notice the scene. It was rather embarrassing for all parties involved, but the mother was relentless. I said a quick prayer for her, that she may allow her little boy to get a little dirty – it’s good for him.

Here’s what I have observed about kids in nature: they don’t need toys. The playground gets them started, but they use it differently after a while. Instead of going down the covered slide, for instance, they straddle it. They go up and down on top of the cover. I try not to panic. The ground is soft.

I did bring a soccer ball and it helped break the ice with one boy in the morning and another one in the afternoon. But the ball got put up after the second boy brought his puppy out. The kids let the puppy chase them and ran around on the grassy hill for almost an hour.

Little bird in a cage - my kids observed it and played with it for an hour

Little bird in a cage – my kids observed it and played with it for an hour

Through it all, they learned some science. They observed “small fishes” in the creek. I told them they were tadpoles.

My son came to the bench where I was sitting with my book and grabbed the water bottle. After he quenched his thirst, he tilted the bottle and took a good look at it. “Mommy, why does the water stay flat even though I tilted the bottle?” I explained about gravity and the state of being liquid.

We noticed a cardinal on a power line. He was busy singing and we could see him open his beak and hear him at the same time – always a special treat.

During my planning meeting, which happened at the Sevierville library, somebody brought a small bird in a cage. My children observed it and played with it the way you can play from just outside the cage. I asked them how many “fingers” the bird has. My son said, “Three.” A few minutes later, “Mommy, I was wrong. There are three in the front and one in the back.” I congratulated him for good observation skills.

They should sleep well tonight after this day spent mostly outside.


Mom Monday Week 28 – Water, Water, Everywhere

Posted on

Homeschooling is uncharted territory with each one of your children, because each one is unique and may require a different curriculum. But when you homeschool your first born, we are really talking uncharted territory, 100%.

It’s no wonder that I am overjoyed to see how things tie in so beautifully for us, even though we are only beginning our second year homeschooling. Lately, it seems that the theme in most of our studies has been water, water, everywhere. Continue reading »

We have started the study of history – the ancient world. A big issue in those days was water. We have been taking our time with the chapter on Egypt and the Nile River. I can’t wait to show you what we have been working on. But the idea is that water was extremely valuable back then. If you had water, you had crops and healthy animals. You could survive.

Water Water Everywhere

This concept was only reinforced in our devotionals, because we are studying the Old Testament stories from Betty Lukens’ Through the Bible in Felts. After a famine in Canaan, probably related to a drought, Isaac moved to Gerar to find water for his animals and for his family and servants. But he experienced a lot of trouble because of water wells in Gerar.

You know the story. His father dug many of the wells which Isaac reclaimed as his own. The locals were not happy. They took over these wells. Isaac had to dig another and then another, because the scenario repeated itself.

Isaac persevered. At one point, he moved further away. That adjustment worked and he was allowed to remain there.

The Bible story mentions that they always seemed to have water and food in Egypt, but God promised Isaac abundance if he did NOT go to Egypt.

All this ties in even further with our health and science studies of late. I am in the process of teaching my children to drink water between meals. For their age and body mass, they recommend six cups per day. I drink at least eight. I love water.

We all know that our bodies are mostly made of water. Have you told your children? Here are some activities you could use in your homeschool to relay the importance of drinking water.


Mom Monday Week 27 – Meditate

Posted on

Can you believe we hit the half-way point in 2014 – and now we passed it? This seems like a great moment to pause and meditate on how the Lord has led us thus far.

Ellen G. White, a Christian author of the 19th century wrote, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us and His teaching in our past history…”  Continue reading »

Don’t you love the way they talked back then? I know, I know, not everybody talked or wrote that way. Just sayin’…

Meditate Mom Monday Devotional for Homeschooling Moms

So let’s take a moment and meditate on God’s blessings to our families in 2014. Psalm 119:27 says, “I will meditate on Your wonders.”

Let’s stop doing and let us be. Still. And know. That He is God.

I can think of all the meals I have prepared for my children. All the cleaning. The laundry. 180 days of meals, sweeping the floor around the dining room table. Folding towels and tiny dresses and small socks. Why am I going back to doing?

A Christian author reminded me in an email that God made human beings, not human doings.

How have I been so far this year? Have I been more calm, more at peace with myself and my circumstances? I am glad to answer “yes.”

Plus, I have learned that I need to drop some of my responsibilities after I bring my commitments to an end later this year. I cannot just drop out. It does not work that way.

And now about homeschooling… I found a great quote about burnout in children. It’s by Ruth Beechick, the author of The 3 Rs and other fantastic books that will teach you how to teach your children. She says, “Burnout comes from unsuitable work, either too much mindless busywork or too much pushing beyond the child’s present ability. Remember to lighten up once in a while with a change of pace – something like a day trip or a Friday of free time.”

You can probably relate to what she is saying, can’t you? So pay attention to your own work but also pay attention to the work you give your child. Let us all avoid unsuitable work.

This post contains affiliate links.


Story of the World, Volume 1, Chapter 1

Posted on

Last week we started Chapter 1 in our history curriculum, Story of the World. I read to the kids the first section about the first nomads. Then, we read “It’s Disgusting and We Ate It” – one of the recommended books. The kids (and I) can only take so many pages of that book. They groan and moan at almost every sentence. It truly is disgusting. :)

“Ancient Agriculture” is rather dry for a living book. It feels like a textbook. I tried reading it to the kids and they interrupted me, asking for another book. I must say, this is where I don’t follow SOTW to the letter. I know Susan Wise Bauer, the author, recommends doing different activities if they work for our families. This is where I have to learn to watch for their reaction and not feel bad if we cannot complete a certain reading assignment.  Continue reading »

Bottom line: if the kids don’t enjoy something, I don’t insist. Right now they are young and the objective is to get them interested in learning and excited about discovering new things.

From the beginning, I questioned whether ancient history would even be something to teach in first grade. But, as I learned more about SOTW, I realized it is truly written as a story. Plus, it has all these hands-on activities and reading assignments which my children would enjoy. Finally, exposing them to vocabulary and concepts and giving them a framework of history and geography won me over.

However, I made a decision early on that, as soon as an activity or book does not interest them, I would not push it on them. That’s what I love about homeschooling. We have freedom to choose.

Little girl making cave paintings

We made cave paintings for our craft. The mess was incredible. I cleaned red paint off the table and in the bathroom for a few days after that, always discovering a new spot. My mistake was that I sent them to the bathroom to wash their hands without thinking that they will be touching light switches and sinks in the process. But they had fun and that’s what matters.

We also looked up cave paintings under Google Images. As I was doing that research, I found out that cave paintings have been recently found in Romania. They are some of the oldest cave paintings in Central Europe, demonstrating that early people engaged in similar art activities throughout the continent, not just in Western Europe.

I would say we would take the kids there when we go to Romania, but these cave paintings are naturally protected from human eyes as one must go under water inside the cave to get to their location. Phew! That’s great, because I don’t like caves to begin with.

By the way, I don’t get into the age of the earth with the kids right now. They are too young for that debate. Instead, we started Through the Bible with Felts all over again. I have used this Bible curriculum with them in the past for specific stories. I even started it out with them last year, following it chronologically, but by Moses and the plagues we all gave up. I think picking up the felts for the next story got to me. I hope to be more diligent with it this year. Pray for me. :)

This time, I started all over again from Creation and we are working our way through it to reinforce customs and people of the ancient world. At this stage, people and locations on the map are more important than dates. I was glad my son knew who was the son of Abraham and Sarah. I did not know that answer until I was 17, when I started reading the Bible on my own. It’s fun to teach them these Bible lessons in their childhood.

This week, we received our National Geographic world map from Amazon. We put it on the wall in the room where we do most of our studies. The kids love it. They look at it every day and ask questions. Informally, we do some geography, too, it seems like. I grew up with maps on the walls in my room and that has always kept me aware of the world around me. I want my children to know their geography, let’s put it that way.

They really liked The First Dog and Little Grunt and the Big Egg. We read those during our bedtime reading.

I would have made the effort to make a “Game Bag” but (1) I don’t enjoy sewing all that much and (2) we don’t need another craft project lying around the house and needing to be put up at the end of the day, when all the playing is done.

That’s it for Chapter 1. How have you enjoyed working through Chapter 1 in your homeschool?

This post contains affiliate links.