Thursday, September 27, 2012

Seeds of Wisdom - Homeschool Blessings

Here at Growing Your Homeschool, we share our homeschool journeys to encourage others.  Sometimes, we share our challenges, and sometimes we share our blessings. Isn't that life? Good and bad? Easy and hard? Joys and despairs? 

Today, we are focusing on the blessings of homeschooling.  Perhaps you share a few of these, too?

Sam ~ I am most grateful for our time together. Spending time with my family is a joy. Life is short, and there will never be enough hours to spend with them on this side of eternity. I am also grateful for the flexibility homeschooling allows, especially now that I am working outside of the home! Finally, I am grateful that homeschooling allows me to tailor our curriculum to the needs of my children. When something isn't working, we try something else.
Aurie ~ I love that my girls are able to be with us at home. I love the freedom we have to teach Biblical truths. I feel so blessed that I am able to guide them as they grow instead of handing it off to another person.
Beth ~ I am thankful that our family is in a position to even be able to do this. I am sure there are lots of families who would like to, but for whatever reason cannot. I am thankful that God has given us the opportunity.


What are some of the blessings of homeschooling in your family?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cooking for Homeschool

This summer I had a great time making fun treats with the girls.  One of our favorite recipes were cake pops!

It was an easy recipe for the girls to follow and since baking is a part of our homeschool curriculum, it was fun education too!
I picked out the cake mix and called out the ingredients to Sophie.  She went and got the eggs, oil, mixing bowls, and utensils and lined everything up on the counter.
Then we read the directions.  I measured the oil; Sophie broke the eggs, added the oil and then added the cake mix.  She and Bella stirred until it was completely mixed, and then helped me put it in the pan.
I put it in the oven, and then we waited for it to cook.  Once the cake was done baking, I used a a butter knife to remove it from the pan and dumped it into a large bowl.  Once the cake cooled {about 10 minutes} we added a can of frosting into the bowl. 
We washed our hands and then mixed the cake and the icing together.  Then we rolled the mixture into balls and placed them in the fridge to cool.
We added white popsicle sticks and then I melted chocolate wafers in the microwave.

We dipped the cake pops into the melted chocolate and then set them on a pan to cool in the refridgerator.

This was an easy snack that the girls had fun making and was a yummy treat for after dinner!

Do you cook with your children?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Easy Preschool Science Activities

Preschool is all about discovery - and preschool science should be all about hands-on fun!  Here are a few simple ideas for science lessons with your preschooler.

Plant a Seed.

Learning the cycle of a plant and what it needs to grow is a great activity.  How many preschoolers don't love dirt? Even my little princess does.  Planting the seed into soil, making sure it has water and sunlight, and watching it grow make for wonderful hands-on learning.

Play with water.

Provide your preschooler with a variety of containers and water to fill them with.  Talk about how the same amount of water fits into different sizes and shapes of containers.  Test which kinds of things sink or float.  This is an especially fun activity if you aren't worried about spilling, so in the yard with a bathing suit and garden hose or in your own tub are the best places.

Bake together.

Measuring and mixing, feeling different textures and experiencing different smells - everything that happens in the kitchen can be an experiment!  Watching something change from liquid to solid while baking or seeing it change shape (like rising bread dough) are amazing to preschoolers.  The kitchen is a great place to learn about food and nutrition sciences.

Make a "ME."

Ask your child to lay on a piece of butcher paper.  Trace a life-size outline of your preschooler, and have fun adding different body parts.  As you draw, you can talk about the five senses, your lungs, heart and stomach and how your body grows.

Take a Nature Walk.

Your science lessons do not need to be complicated or even planned in advance.  A walk in the park or a field will afford opportunities galore to fill your little one's inquiring mind with insect, plant and natural world science.

What simple activities have helped your preschoolers learn and experience scientific ideas?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ten Tips to Avoid Homeschool Burnout!

It's been interesting as we are easing into our homeschool journey so far. This year we are taking it slower, being more intentional about prayer, and talking about 1 virtue a week. {actually, we are still working on *obey*'s a work in progress!}

Sophie and I have been working on the alphabet, shapes, colors, painting and writing. We read a Bible Story in the morning and talk about the wonders of creation and how God made everything, including the sun.

I find it's easy to get caught up and burnt out, so here are my Top Ten Tips to avoid homeschool burnout:

10. Remember the reason that you decided to homeschool. Put in in front of you, repeat it over and over, post it so you can see it.

9.   Be flexible. If the curriculum isn't working, get rid of it. If the schedule isn't working change it.

8.   Don't forget about your marriage in the midst of homeschool. Cultivate your relationship. Work at it. Make it a priority, even when you are exhausted.  You need to.

7.   Laugh. Seriously - on the days that are never ending, and the milk gets spilled, and the floors are a need to laugh.

6.   Cultivate the wonder of God in your children. Everyday. They should never lose their awe of His works.

5.   Expect opposition. Stay clear minded and alert.

4.   A lack of encouragement can cause a child to lose heart. Encourage them. Love on them. Laugh with them.

3.   Set good boundaries. Children need to know what is expected of them.

2.   Truth is truth. Period.

1.   God didn't call you to homeschool to fail. He has given you every tool that is needed in this journey.

What would you add to the list?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Connecting Reading and Art for Preschoolers

In our house, we do a lot of art projects and we love to do art projects that go along with the books that we read.  In fact, we host a weekly playgroup where I read a story and then the  children do an art project that goes with the story.  Sometimes, I am really ambitious and even make a snack to go along with the theme.  Today, I want to share with you a few ideas for simple art projects to do after popular children's stories.  This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully these ideas will get you think about simple projects that you can do with your preschooler after reading a story.

After reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, you can make a toilet tissue tree and decorate it with letter stickers.  For a snack, I made homemade bread in the shapes of the children's initials-they loved their snacks!

When we read Sheep in a Jeep, we made handprint sheep 

and enjoyed a marshmallow sheep snack.

We read Scuffy the Tugboat and made boats. For snack, the children enjoyed "boats" made from orange slices, celery sticks, and grapes (sorry, but I can't find a photo of the snack).

We read Where the Wild Things Are and made crowns so that we could be the "Queens of the Wild Things".

We have also planted carrot seeds after reading The Carrot Seed, made coffee filter butterflies to go with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, baked cookies after reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and made paper plate trees after reading The Giving Tree.

How have you connected reading and art for your children?

Today, we are linked up at It's Playtime.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tips to involve your preschooler in your homeschooling

We were not always a homeschooling family.

Our daughter, however, has always been home schooled.

She was three when we began our adventures at home.  I quickly learned ways to involve her in our learning process, keep her happy and allow for academic growth at her own pace.  I'm sharing a few ideas with you today, they may work for your family as well!

1) Let your preschooler work with the big kids.

Not only does this help them feel a part of your family projects, but it is a great opportunity to teach your older children about inclusivity, patience and consideration for littler ones.  There doesn't need to be a goal or expectation of what your preschooler will learn - they just need to have fun!

2) Give them 'big kid' activities as well.

My preschooler loved having worksheets, handwriting assignments, or math work to complete.  Many of her color sorting and counting activities were extra fun for her because I presented them like I did for her older brothers. It really didn't matter if she did them correctly or if they were made up - it was great practice for her to trace letters, match colors, or just pretend to be as big as her siblings.

3)  Encourage them to watch.

If your preschooler is interested, allow them to learn by osmosis.  Try not to save all your schooling for nap time. My older children just love to show off for the littler ones.

4) Give them something to do with their hands.

Each day, give your preschooler an activity to work on during school.  This can include any sort of crafty or manipulative activity, just save anything involving glue for bath day.  Crafting was always something that helped my little one sit for read alouds.

5) Enjoy being all together; it's one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling.

In this picture, my preschooler asked to practice tying my shoes while her brothers worked on spelling words with sidewalk chalk.  I missed my older children while they were away at 'regular' school, and I have treasured being spared the same separation from my youngest.

Some days are tougher than others with preschoolers underfoot, but if you work with the personality of your child and try to focus on their interests, you will have a wonderful year.  What works for your family in terms of homeschooling with preschoolers?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Preschool Creativity with Less Mess

It takes a long time.
The end result isn't always nice.
It makes a HUGE mess.

To all these statements, I agree.  Yes, it does.  Allowing a preschooler time and supplies to be creative can take a long time, the end result isn't always frame worthy, and it almost always makes a huge mess.

The independence your child can have is a direct result of you willingness to take the time, accept the less than perfect results, and clean up countless messes.  However, sometimes, it can be nice not to have as many messes to clean up while they are learning.


Learning to work with arts and craft supplies is a lesson for life which preschoolers can learn now.

A few ideas for helping preschoolers express their creativity with less mess...

The Skill of Cutting with Scissors:

  • Teach your little one how to properly hold and carry scissors, and how to cut away from themselves.
  • Allow them to cut paper into small pieces.  These pieces can be used for paper mosaic crafts later.  Or, better yet, give them the papers you need shredded and let them cut, and cut, and cut.

The Ability to Use Glue:

  • Glue sticks and glue dots are less messy, but don't automatically ban the liquid glue.
  • Teach your little one how to open and close the tops of the liquid glue.
  • Show them how to use liquid glue in moderation.
  • Teach them how to clean up glue messes, and how to rub their hands together to remove excess glue.
  • Let them coat an entire page of paper and use those paper mosaic squares to create a design.

Sticking Stickers:

  • Does your child cover the furniture, walls, or floors with stickers?  You could teach them not to, and give them paper or a sticker book for their favorite stickers.  Or you could hang a large piece of paper on the wall or door, and allow him to display his favorite stickers for all to see.  For the ambitious, create a frame about the sticker page with markers or a mat.   


  • Clay, Play-doh, or homemade dough messes can be immense.  Cover your table with a plastic table cloth before, or take it outside.

Building with K'nex or Lego pieces:

  • Use a tray or cookie sheet with edges to contain the small pieces.  


  • Looking for a less messy alternative?  What about purchasing bath tub paints?  Or using water to paint outside?  Fill a can with water and use the brushes to paint any surface without fear of damage.

Do you have additional ideas?  Perhaps even a whole post?  If so, then please share your ideas or links in our comment section.   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Seeds of Wisdom - Favorite Resources

You know you have a favorite!  Not all were created equally.  There is one, or maybe two, which you just love to pieces, and maybe more than all the rest.  They make your days easier.  They help your schedule run smoother.  Or maybe they just hold everything in its place for you.    Ah, come on admit it, you have a favorite resource.  Today, we are sharing a few of our favorite homeschool resources...

Sam - My favorite resource this year is the simple - yet wonderful app Homeschool Helper!  It is now available for Android phones as well as the iPad, and it is only $4.99.  I have been sharing it with everyone.

Beth - Hands down my favorite resource is Signing Time.  We have been usinig this for a long time.  It does so many things.  It increases vocabulalry, literacy skills, teaches music, science, and most importantly gives your child a second language.  If you have children with special needs, giving them a way to communicate with their family is of absolute importance.  I would recommend this product to everybody.

Marla - Our favorite resource is the iPad.  Since we moved, we have relied on it heavily for access to new books through the iBooks app.  Abigail does independent math and reading work using some fabulous apps, and Charlotte and I work together on some toddler skill apps.

Looking for more favorite resources?  Check out the weekly link-up at Learning All the Time.

Favorite Resource This Week

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Making Time for It All

The Bad News: Homeschooling takes time ~ lots of time.

The Good News: You have time ~ lots of time.
{If you homeschool from kindergarten through senior year, then you have 13 years worth of time.  During that time you will learn lots of lessons and complete many classes.}

So why are you trying to fit it all into one year?

In one week

In one day?

The Better News: Not every class or subject must be taught every day of every year.

How can you fit it all in?

First determine your essential classes.  What classes do your children need?  The bulk hours of homeschooling are filled with these essentials.  Only have time for a few classes one day?  Essential classes are the ones you will most likely complete.  Math and Language Arts are usually found on most need lists.

Next, brainstorm with your children about elective classes.  Which ones would they like to take?  What skills do you want to share with your children?  What opportunities are in your area?  Fill these classes into your schedule on a weekly or monthly time period.  Art, Music, and Poetry may be in this category.

Finally, the fun extras happen occasionally.  You can't always go on field trips every day.  However, you can go every once in awhile, and maybe even once a week, depending on your homeschool choices.  Decide what items, events, or extras your family wants to include over the course of your homeschool year, and make time for them.

The Best News: With a little planning, you can fit what your family needs and wants into your homeschooling days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Tactile Learning

After a year of homeschool and watching how Sophie learns best, I finally figured out that she is a hands on learner - or a tactile learner.
We've had great success using household items to do everything from math to spelling! 

* we use straight pretzels to make letters, both upper case and lower case - and they make a fun snack!

* we use wooden train tracks to make letters and have the trains drive around them.

* we do adding/subtraction with blocks.

* we do sorting with colored foam blocks.

* we use rice spread in a cookie tray to trace letters and shapes.

* we use basic shapes to make everyday objects out of blocks

There are so many other ways that you can use tactile objects to help your child thrive!

Do you have a tactile learner? What tips do you have?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Seeds of Wisdom - Reading Aloud

Some of the sweetest homeschool moments happen during the hearing of a story.  Whether read aloud by you or with the help of an audio book, read alouds are a favorite part of the day for most families.

Today, we are sharing a few of our recent read alouds and adding them to a favorite Thursday read aloud link-up.

Jessica - Our first read aloud book for this school year has been Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. It is set on the Oregon Trail and in the early years of westward expansion, the historical time-period we are currently studying. It has wonderful descriptions of how Native Americans,trappers and settlers lived. The story has also piqued the interested of my children in pioneer life. We have enjoyed many conversations about cultural understanding and tolerance based on the struggle the main character goes through. I definitely recommend this book!

Beth - We listened to Charlotte's Web on audio as our first read aloud this year. It was narrated by the author E.B. White and was fantastic. I hadn't read the chapter book in a while myself, so it was very captivating. My children enjoyed it very much. It was warm like cozying up under a warm blanket during the fall. Great book for autumn.

Dorie - We just finished Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell.  It is a story about one girl alone on an island for many years.  Shortly after a traumatic loss of most of the men in their tribe, Karana's people choose to leave the island.  Karana, ready to depart with her people on the boat, can not find her brother Ramo.  She finally spots him, on the island, alone.  Without consideration for herself, Karana jumps off the boat and swims to the island to join her brother.  The boat leaves without them.  Just a few days later, Ramo dies, and Karana is left alone on the island for many, many years.  Our family loved this story the first time we read it, and again five years later.  It is one we will return to time and time again.


Looking for more read aloud suggestions?  Every Thursday, Amy at Hope Is the Word hosts a link-up called Read Aloud Thursday.  It is a great resource to find new read alouds or be reminded of old favorites.  Hop on over there today, or any Thursday to find some more great read alouds.

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