Monday, September 15, 2014

Discovering Early Americans

We have started another wonderful year of learning and this year we are doing Early American History. We have used various curriculum in the past but this year we are staying on a budget with homeschool materials and just studying a different event in American History each month without purchasing a curriculum. We will then celebrate with a monthly project day with a few of our friends.

Although we don't have a formal curriculum this year, I own a few high school textbooks and student readers which I can use as resources for the younger children, as well as a wonderful set of timeline figures and blank maps which will be resources that I pull from.
Our first month was the study of Native Americans, and we found some interesting books to read about a few different tribes. Because the content of some of these books may be a bit dark, I will edit as needed while I read, but they were all fascinating.

Book List

If You Lived With The Hopi-Kamma

The Serpent Never Sleeps- Scott O'Dell

The Trail Of Tears- Joseph Bruchac


We used our Picture Story form to write and illustrate a book report for each story that we read. This has been a good way to use the writing skills that we have learned through Institute for Excellence in Writing, as well as a good opportunity to evaluate the story and get writing practice.

Another fun activity was to label a United States map with geographical features as well as the territory that each tribe was living in.

The big finale was our project day. The children dressed up in costumes that I had made for some of their older siblings. We mixed up corn cakes in honor of the Pueblo people that we had been reading about and cooked them over an open fire. We used long branches that we had pruned off our apple tree to build a teepee which we covered with an old sheet.


The children also made beaded jewelry, bow and arrows and ground acorns in a grinding stone. They  ate snacks from the time period such as dried cranberries, popcorn and beef jerky.
They also presented reports, my youngest students had a report on the Pueblo people complete with a rigatoni noodle pueblo village and my 11 year old son presented his Pueblo report while donning an elaborately painted mask which he had copied from a book.


Although our project day incorporated elements from many different tribes, it was a fun filled time to experience some of what the early Americans had experienced.
After we had finished up with our project day, I handed out blank books.  I purchased these in the dollar aisle at Target and we will use them as a scrapbook of our year. The children will fill in one or two pages each month with some of the information that they have learned.


We are having so much fun incorporating many elements of learning into our history studies this year! Reading interesting books to my children and exploring other cultures and time periods are just a few of many wonderful aspects of homeschooling. 

This post contains affiliate links. So far, I haven't made any money from it, but it is worth a try!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014/2015 Curriculum Plan

I am so excited about this school year. I graduated my second student last year and so this year I only have five students to homeschool. I also have no babies or toddlers this year and although I would love a baby and I miss that stage, it will be really fun to delve a little deeper into learning this year with my school age children.
My oldest student is taking most of his classes at the local junior college so I will only be overseeing a few classes for my advanced students. I love having other teachers involved with my older students and so far, they have had good experiences in their classes.
Because I just published Bountiful Homeschooling On A Budget, I am also including what I paid for each class or subject.
So here it is, the 2014/2015 curriculum plan.

12th Grade Son

Bible-One Year Bible (I own)
English 1A (Jr. College, $14 fee, dual enrollment is free in California but there is a registration fee.)
Algebra 2 (Jr. College, $0)
World History, BJU (given to me several years ago)
Biology  (Jr. College)
Peer Tutoring (Jr. College)
Guitar (self taught with occasional lessons)
Physical Education, Martial Arts ($195 per month for the whole family)
Spanish 3 (BJU, I own the book, donation find at a non-profit book sale)

9th Grade Son

Bible-Studying God's Word-Book G (Christian Liberty Press, free)
English 151, Intro to College Composition (Jr. College, $14 fee)
Algebra 1-(Teaching Textbooks, purchased last year)
U.S. History (Clarence Carson, given by a friend several years ago.)
Physical Science-(Purchased for $25 from a friend a few years ago.)
Spanish 1 (BJU, I own)
Physical Ed-Martial Arts (see 12th grade boy for cost)
Speech Club ($125 for the family plus tournament fees, we will probably do 1 or 2 tournaments)

camping fun

7th Grade Son

Lincoln's Daily Devotional-(Given to me)
TT Math 7 (owned for several years)
Rod and Staff Grammar 5 with worksheets (I own)
America-Land I Love-(ABeka, I own)
Reading (I took all my American History books, put them in a basket and the children will read them)
Spelling-Spell To Write and Read ( I own)
Science- (CLP Nature Readers, Computer Science, pre-owned or computer tutorials)
Piano- (Local friend $12-15 a lesson twice a month)
Speech Club (see 9th gr.)
Martial Arts (see 12th gr.)

3rd Grade Daughter

Bible-(CLP Book B, I own)
Math- (Saxon 3, $20 at used book sale)
Explode The Code 6 (trade in at used book store)
A Reason For Handwriting  ($14, purchased at Homeschool Conference)
English For The Thoughtful Child (owned for years)
Spell To Write and Read (I own)
Picture Story (my older daughter made this form to use with our narrations)
Reading (BJU Reader/CLP Nature Reader)
Life Science (Steck Vaughn Workbook, given to me)
Piano (Local Friend, $10 a lesson)
Ballet ($50 a month)
my youngest students

K/1 Son

Bible- I read children's Bible
Math N More (Review copy, owned for several years)
Explode The Code 1 (trade in from homeschool used book store)
All About Spelling (borrowed from a friend)
Handwriting Without Tears (13.81, Amazon)
Spelling Power Book A (I own)
Reading-I am reading Early American History books this year, more on that to come)
Science- Nature Study

We are also doing an early American History project day with a few friends which will be a fun opportunity to present reports, do map work and make crafts. This will be a highlight of the year for us.

I only spent around $65 dollars for curriculum this year, which makes it one of my most economical years ever. This is so helpful because I also have more monthly activities than usual. When totaled, these monthly activities add up to around $300 dollars a month. Although my homeschool students cost very little this year, my two students who we are helping put through college, have classes and books that are not quite as economical, another reason I am thankful that I was able to keep curriculum costs low this year. The upside is that my homeschool students are taking some of the same classes as the college students and can share their books, resulting in more savings.

What books are you using this year? How have you stayed within budget? I would love to hear about it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bountiful Homeschooling On A Budget

I published a book. It has been a long held dream of mine to write a book, but taking care of my children, homeschooling and writing articles has taken most of my time so that book writing and marketing was just an idea in the back of my head.

The thing that finally made my dream a reality was seeing the persistence that my 12 year old son had to publish his book, Finding Joy In a World of Sorrow. He found a self publishing website, wrote the book, and I finally came in at the end to briefly edit it.

Fun at a local park

I have had many ideas for book, I am passionate about so many things, so choosing a topic to narrow in on was one of the hardest parts initially. However, my workshop on Homeschooling on a Budget provided a good framework for my first book.

My book, Bountiful Homeschooling On A Budget is not an exhaustive reference, but it is an entertaining, short book that is full of ideas for saving money as well as inspiration to know why you might want to save money.
Homemade Fun

One chapter is about saving money on household goods and I talk about how often our children have so many toys and playthings that their imagination and resourcefulness is hindered. This morning I was given hope, that despite my children's many toys, they still have an imagination.

My youngest daughter, seven years old, looked through a craft book and found the idea of painting rocks. She spent time painting with her younger brother, painting the rocks into an entire family complete with grandparents. She then painted bricks to be beds and a kitchen and then drew a chalk house on the patio to play in. Although she has a small doll house, what excited her more today was to build her own with rocks and chalk.

Your family can have the blessing of living on less so that you have more to give also, and this book may help you get started.


I will be speaking on Bountiful Homeschooling On A Budget this Saturday at the Valley Home Educators Conference  and giving away a free copy of my book to one of my workshop attendees. It just might be you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Swimming Creatures Lapbook

We loved our year studying the book, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie Fulbright of Apologia. The only thing I did not love was the notebook. Some of the pages were wonderful but there were just so many of them! It frustrated me to have blank pages but my children had other work and projects that were higher priorities than filling out multiple workbook pages.


The way we solved this issue when we hit the end of our school year and reviewed all the blank pages was by taking apart the notebook and making a lapbook. The children did this project in a morning, with a little help from me in the cutting department. We simply cut the lovely mini books from the back of the notebook, assembled them, and then wrote definitions for the terms.


Once the writing was finished the children glued them into their tri-folded file folders. The children were eager and happy to get this project done and it was a nice way to review all they had learned through out  the year. 

Even my reluctant hand writer enjoyed putting effort into making a lapbook, and I was so proud of his efforts and accomplishment.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fun With Apologia's Swimming Creatures

Our little friend's amazing ocean box
We recently finished up our year long science study using Swimming Creatures by Apologia. This was my favorite year so far! Although I loved the Botany studies we did last year, and my sons really enjoyed Astronomy, it was amazing to learn about all these crazy creatures that inhabit our oceans. 
The shark, it had been out of the water for a while.

As a finale for our year, we did a few crafts with the younger kids, displayed the ocean boxes that we had worked on, shared reports and even dissected a shark. 

The other two families that we have been studying science with over the last several years, contributed so much to our fun last day, and although the shark brought some unexpected surprises to me, shark brain in the freezer, anyone?,  it really capped off an incredible year.


Aside from working on our Sculpey clay sea creatures throughout the year, we didn't do a lot of crafts, so my littlest student really enjoyed decorating a paper bowl which became his own pet jellyfish, complete with a cutout of a fish pasted into it's "tummy".


We are so happy that we have friends to learn with! Our many years of doing homeschool co-ops have brought so much fun and creativity to our lives.

Click here for a slightly more sophisticated jellyfish craft

Monday, June 2, 2014

Family Mission Trips

We have been doing mission work in Mexico for over 15 years and just got back from another wonderful weekend in this precious country.  Another brave family came with eight of their children and one adorable grandchild.


This was one of our quickest trips ever, we rolled into Mexico on Saturday evening and were in the border line at 5pm on Monday, quick but full of excitement.

Sunday morning after a brief and cozy sleep at the mission house we headed to Calvary Chapel Rosarito for Sunday morning service. When we first moved to Mexico we attended this church which at the time met in a small retail building. The children were all packed into a downstairs room while the adults, around 40 people worshipped upstairs. Fast forward 10 years and this church now has over 1,000 people who meet in a huge warehouse and have new believers and new church plants growing as an outflow of their ministry. It was inspiring to be back in such an exciting place. 

Sunday afternoon we drove an hour east to visit one of these church plants which is pastored by a couple we had known since living in Mexico. This brand new church meets under a couple of Costco car covers in one of the poorest squatter communities in Tijuana. 
Scott and I were honored to testify of God's goodness in our lives to these spiritually hungry people and to share some tools which we had learned at the Love After Marriage conference we attended in February. While the service was going on our children had the fun of directing the children's class which met in a little dirt floor classroom. To get to the classroom you ascended a staircase made of old tires. An incredible place to sow into.


Monday, after a fabulous breakfast of chorizo and eggs with fresh tortillas and pan dulce we headed over to the orphanage. We have been supporting this orphanage for the last 8 years and love how they really parent the children. It was wonderful to listen to the children recite much of Ephesians 6, although with my faulty Spanish I kept another child close at hand to help me.

After feeding the children pizza and fixing up a sunshade over their outdoor dining room we headed back to the U.S. We were across the border in 30 minutes, one of the shortest crossings we had ever experienced. It was an inspiring weekend because there is nothing quite as special as ministering cross culturally with your children.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Making Julia Child's French Bread (With My Child)


After stumbling upon "My Life in France" by Julia Child recently at a used book sale, I became very interested in French cooking, or rather, baking. In the book, Ms. Child describes in vivid detail the process by which she wrote her famous cookbook, "Mastering The Art of French Cooking" which is available in two volumes. Although cooking to me is often more of a chore, taking up a huge chunk of my time and producing loads of dirty dishes three times a day, baking is another story. I love making a yummy batch of chocolate chip cookies or pulling fresh loaves of yeasty bread from the oven just in time for dinner. However, we have been trying to be supportive of the paleo eaters in our family and so I haven't been indulging in as much baking as I would like. 


Having become intrigued by French cooking from reading Julia Child's autobiography, I did make an effort to find her cookbooks on one of my routine trips to the local library. Although Volume One was not available, they did have Volume Two, which had the chapter which she describes so vividly in "My Life In France" on how to make real French bread. 

I decided to forget about paleo and Nourishing Traditions for a few days and give it a shot. It was also a fun little opportunity to teach my young daughter about measuring and scooping, and the amazing properties of yeast.  

The ingredients list was very simple, although she includes pages of detailed instructions. I added a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to my recipe and it rose beautifully, sadly, I cannot say the same about the brioche which I made the same day. A few keys to doing French bread right, according to Julia Child, are sufficient rising time, and a hot steamy oven with a stone. Getting the bread from the rising surface to the stone was the one problem I encountered. She recommends flipping the bread out of the rising surface, after rising the shaped loaf, so that the bread is baked bottom side up. This was easier said than done with my amateur bread baking supplies.

The recipe is simple, and here it includes my variation of vital wheat gluten, for detailed directions see this post at Epicurious or buy the book.

French Bread

3 t. active dry yeast (approximately one package)
1/3 c. warm water

Allow yeast to dissolve in water in mixer bowl. I use a Bosch with dough hook.

3 1/2 c. flour (the recipe calls for all purpose, I usually bake with unbleached)
1 T vital wheat gluten
2 1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. tepid water

I mixed this for a couple minutes and let it rest for two minutes. Then I processed it in my Bosch for about 6 minutes. After it was feeling smooth and springy I placed it in a bowl prepared with a little olive oil and let it rise for about 3 or 4 hours. It is supposed to triple in size. After the first rising,  it is deflated, kneaded slightly and then allowed to rise a second time, another 3 hours or so. Finally it is shaped into loaves and given a third rising. I did baguettes which I slashed the tops of and then baked at 450 for 25 minutes. I baked them on a hot stone, with a pan of water in the oven for steam.

The bread was really wonderful.  Light and airy with perfect flavor, especially when slathered with butter. It was a special treat to make, especially with such a lovely little helper.