Saturday, June 24, 2017

Boys in the Sink

Today we are going to be talking about getting your boys in the kitchen, but not just the kitchen, but of all the household chores (btw, if you know Veggie Tales, you will recognize where that title came from).  I am a firm believer is making sure boys get taught all about household work.  Sometimes, we parents are archaic in our thinking.  Girls learn to do things in the house, and boys learn to do things outside the house.  While some of this should be true, not all of it need be.   When my kids were young and we knew we wanted a big family, I decided then and there my boys and my girls were going to learn things to help out.  I saw the stress other mom friends who were trying to do it all and knew that was not for me.  Do they have to do them till the day they die?  Nope, but I wanted them to be able to bless others and their future spouses by being able to do many things.   I made sure my oldest girls could run a complete household by the time they are 13.  This includes simple meal preparation, house cleaning, and laundry.  This came in so handy when my youngest 3 had to all be born by C-section due to breech presentations.  I could stay at the hospital and rest knowing my house was well taken care of it between my loving husband and oldest daughters.  When my boys were small, I began the same routine with them.  With a larger family and much more responsibility, I haven't met the 13 year old guide as quick with them.  But we are very close.  It does help, my children are older now and there are more ways to spread the work load.  Plus, my husband has things he wants the boys to learn as well, so it just takes more time.  But, the goal is still there.  I want my boys to be able to bless their future wives by being able to help out when she is sick or worn or just had a baby as well as provide.  That is my vision for my boys.

Start them while they are very young.  Teach them how to be happy while doing their work.  If you approach a job with a grumpy spirit, so will they.  Have some child size equipment on hand so they can help.  Little brooms and dust pans, kid sized work gloves and aprons, little buckets, sponges, dusting cloths, stools or stepladders for reaching, spray bottles they can hold themselves filled with non-toxic cleaners go a long way to getting the job done.  Put on some music.  We find when we are grooving, the job is so much more fun.  Expect mistakes.  Get messy (a little Ms. Frizzle here).  They will learn as they grow.  But teach nonethless.  A child can do more than pick up toys and keep their room tidy.  Way more!  As they get older, add to it slowly but surely till they can do most everything around the house from kitchen work to laundry to vacuuming and mopping.  My youngest boy is 7 and he does his entire laundry routine from start to finish, folding included (though he still is in training on the folding part).  As they get older, set expectations high.  They can handle it and is a great jumpstart for real life.  We, as adults, cannot go through life halfway.  Don't allow it from your older kids either.  If you are looking for some ways to get started, here are a couple of links for age appropriate chores.  They are a great to give you ideas to get your children moving.  You can always tweak it to fit your family.  

Focus on the Family - no printable but a good read
The Mob Society - focuses just on boys
The Flanders Family - this does have a free printable that is very good and a super springboard

The kitchen is no exception.  Start small.   We don't currently have a dishwasher, but a child at a young age, can empty the dishwasher.   When mine were small, I used mostly plastic so I didn't have to worry about breakage.  Its a season.  I had nicer stuff I would pull out for dinner and nicer occasions, but a plastic season is handy when your kids are tiny and need to learn to help.  If you don't have a dishwasher, start them out with handwashing by doing simple things like cereal bowls, sandwich plates, or plastic cups.  Teach them how to properly wash and get things clean.  You can gradually grow your routine as they get older.  My big boys can handle a decent quantity of dishes now (which is good since they help contribute to the large load).  

Expect them to help set and clear the table, put away food and condiments, refill water jugs (if you have them).  Teach them to sweep and mop.  My opinion is you helped make the mess, you can help clean it up.  Again, I want them to be a blessing to others some day.  They can easily learn these things.  They are not just a girl job.   Our current system is to have the boys do all the kitchen work one day and the girls the next.  It has been a great system and gets all involved.

I rise up and praise my husband for teaching the kids at a young age on Sundays how to meal prep.  He would start with them just making toast.  Then, he expanded to add more.  I followed his lead.   I taught them foods that they enjoy the most.  If they love to eat it, they will love to fix it.   Here is a little list of starter foods that a boy (or girl) can learn to fix:

Cooking scrambled eggs
Making toast
Simple soups, like tomato or chicken noodle, even if its just a can or ramen
Sandwiches (yes, these are good to learn so they can do it just right)
Chopping carrotts, cucumbers, or apples
Warming frozen veggies
Chicken nuggets and french fries
Macs and cheese
Warming leftovers

Notice these are all very kid friendly and super simple to do.  And, if they learn all these, they can literally feed a family for an entire day if need be even while they are young.  I don't know if any of my boys will be one to love to cook, but if they do, I won't be the one to stand in their way.  My oldest son has taken a fascination for the grill, so the last two summers he has been learning the ways of the grill and is doing well.  I will continue to teach more as he goes along inside the house and will do the same for his brothers.

There is a time and place for everything and sometimes paper plates are a wonderful thing.  Don't be afraid to use them.  And, if they allow your boys a few more minutes of training in meal prep, then by all means use them.

I hope this post was a help and blessing to you.  I am asked how do I get all that I do done, and my main reason for that is I have a good team surrounding me.  Yes, it was a ton of work when they were small, and I never thought I would do half of what I do now back then, but when you start reaping the rewards of all your hard work, you realize it was worth every single exhausting minute.  And, I hope that one day, my boys (and girls) spouses will be able to reap the benefits of their early training.  

Here are couple of other goodies from around the 'net.  

Chore Charts - if you love Pinterest, here is an entire board full of various chore charts
Blessed Beyond a Doubt (I love these and she always has fun printable "money" with it)
Do your kids adore Lego?  How about some Lego reward money?  
Proverbial Homemaker - great bunch of kitchen printables to set up a notebook, with both boy and girl themes (these are not free but so worth it)

Have a blessed weekend.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Lego freebie for you!!

We have a wedding to participate in this weekend which, of course, involves a dress rehearsal plus Father's Day and a Lego Batman Movie party to do, so our weekend is very full.  So, I thought I would post before the craziness begins and keep it short and sweet.  So, how about a Lego freebie.  I make these notebooking pages as a fun addition to my book The World of Tiny Fashion.  If you want to know more about it, visit my post here.  But, in the meantime, enjoy these FREE notebooking pages.  You can use them in whatever way you want - storytelling, history, whatever you like.  These are for your use only.

 Lego Notebooking Pages


Have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How I Homeschool - Geography

Geography can be a fun subject to teach when done in the right way.  Yes, you could have them memorize maps all the live long day, but what's the complete fun in that.?  Memorization with geography has it place, but you can make the world come alive and enjoy doing it at the same time. And, as always, I love incorporating good literature into our studies.  Last week, I mentioned a core for my curriculum.  The same goes for geography.  My favorite core geography curriculum books for this are......

Cantering the Country (U.S. geography) and Galloping the Globe (world geography, though, note not every single country of the world is in it) are just plain fun for the elementary to middle grade school child.  Inside are maps, activities, literature lists, fun information, recipes and more.  We have really enjoyed working through them.  I found a little stick horse in Google images that I printed and laminated, and we use him to mark where we are studying in conjunction with whatever country or state we are learning about.  You will not be at a loss to find things to do, but if you would like even more hands on geography, I like to reference these books......

Beginning Geography is a great little book to get kids learning how a map works, different geographical terms, where the continents and oceans are, etc.  It is what the title says, the start to geography.  Hands on Geography is just plain full of hands on projects.  

National Geographic maps are the best!!!!

A must with geography are maps.  We have a set of National Geographic ones that are awesome.  Ours are beginning to look loved, so I thing I am going to FINALLY get them laminated this summer.  But, you don't have to have the ones from National Geographic.  Amazon has a nice collection of maps for sale you can easily get there.  Also, I find owning a globe to be absolutely essential.  I have found them easily at stores likes Target and Walmart but Barnes and Noble and again Amazon have them as well.

Another wonderful thing to have to study is a good collection of atlases.  My kids have poured over ours.  Again, a couple of ours are from National Geographic, but DK makes a great collection of atlases that we own a couple of the unique ones.

Map tracing its a fun thing to do as well.  Having a great set of outline maps is a must if you are going to map trace.  We own a lifetime membership to Notebooking Pages which also contains a great collection of maps to print, color, trace or whatever you would like.  But, also, Homeschool in the Woods which I mentioned with our history post last week has a set of maps as well.  There is also the free route, which is also nice, Google.  :)  (Actually as a plug for Google, Google Earth is really a fun addition to your computer.  Being able to zoom in and see parts of the world where we will never go is an amazing experience.  My kids love Google Earth!!!)  If you want to see how another homeschooler map traces, here is a post on how she does it.  Its a fun and simple way to incorporate geography, too.

If your child is a bit more computer drawn, Seterra has a free program you can download to your computer.  It is a great way to review or even learn the countries, capitals, and even flags around the world.

Lastly, Lego (surprised?) is great way to incorporate geography.  Show them a basic outline of a continent or even country and have them make it out of lego blocks.  They can even add the desert areas and major bodies of water.  This idea is not original to me.  But, I love it!

Now for literature!!!  As mentioned previously, Galloping the Globe and Cantering the Country both are full of literature lists, but I want to mention a couple of other books that I love as well.

Holling's books are wonderful living literatures which goes lovely with any U.S. geography study (we will be reading these next year).  Each one talks about a different part of our country geographically but with such vivid language and description.  These are a real feast for any child to hear or read.

These are bright and colorful little books that are great for any child to look at.  Maps and Globes give a great overview on how to read a map, what longitude and latitude are, etc.  Geography from A-Z is a great reference tool (the older ones still reference it from time time to time) with its many geographical terms - what is an island, a continent, a bluff, a river, and many many many more. 

Another great DK book is Children Just Like Me.  Kids are seen from around the world doing every day things that any kid does.  It also talks about their food, their homes, their schools, their way of dress.  As with all DK books, they are chocked full of pictures which helps a child really grasp what life is like for that child.  I love using this in conjunction with Galloping the Globe and whatever country we are learning about.  Google Earth is also wonderful to use in conjunction with this.

Give Your Child the World is a very recently published anthology of children's literature talking about the different cultures around the world.  The author is very culture conscious since all of her children are from different countries of the world.  She also enjoys globe trotting.  She has brought her love and research into this book and it is a gem to own.  Full of books divided by continent and covers all grade levels, it is worth owning in your library.  You won't lack in literature here.

Last but not least, here is fun YouTube channel which is full of fun songs and other things to help a child learn different geographical regions.  I was introduced to it by a friend.  You will also see it has way more than just geography.  Its a great little channel to subscribe to for learning period.  I will be doing a post on using YouTube for school.  What a blessing YouTube can be, but we will save that for another time.

What do you do for Geography?  Please feel free to comment.  Happy Trails!!!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Family Travels in May

Starting today, once a month, I will be posting pics of our various travels. Living approximately 30 minutes outside of Washington, DC, has its perks.  With all the free museums and art galleries not to mention the fabulous Folgers Shakespeare Library and the zoo, there is a ton to do there which cost little to no pocket money.  We travel there at least once a month to catch a special exhibition, view the art, or whatever may strike our fancy. I count it a large blessing to live so close there.  We have learned and enriched our lives as homeschoolers as a result of it!  I wouldn't change it for the world!  But, that is not all we do in our travelling.  There are other fun things we do from time to time, so I thought it would be fun to share our fun each month.  If it should be we have a month where we go nowhere (hahaha), there will be no post.

First up on our monthly activities was Free Comic Book Day!!!!  My kids are enjoy Marvel, DC, Doctor Who, anything totally geeky.  And, free comic book day is a good day to rake in some goodies, for nothing.  Our library system participated in the event, so my hubby took the boys out to library hop.  They found a cool photo booth while out.  (note-my youngest son is NOT being grouchy.  he's posing as Batman, and Batman never smiles)

Another fun thing we saw was the annual orchid display in Washington, DC.  This year it was held at the Hirshorn Gallery.  We have enjoyed their displays over the years.  This one wasn't as big as some in the past, but it was still a nice display.

But, my favorite adventure that we did was visit the Hirshorn Gallery to see the fabulous Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama.  It was a very hard exhibit to get into.  I was so happy when we were finally able to go.   You can read a bit more about her work here and here.  There were various type of her art on display.  I loved it all but my favorites were the Infinity Rooms themselves.  

The other types of art that was on display

The grand finale of the whole exhibit was the Obliteration Room.  It was totally touchable.  Before opening, Ikea donated a ton of stuff and all was painted white.  Then, as you go into the room at the end of the exhibit, you are given a sheet of stickers which you can place anywhere you like.  It was a fun colorful room.

(my mini-me went along for some fun photos, dressed in polka dots, of course)

It was a fun exhibit.  There was also a large pumpkin outside the museum which we saw back in March.  

Its debut at the Hirshorn is the start of its tour around the United States.  If you want to see if it is coming to a museum near you, check here.

And that wraps up our adventures for May.  What were you up to in May?  Leave a comment and let me know.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How I Homeschool - History

Today, we are talking History.  At this point in my on going series, we are going to start separating what I do in elementary/middle grade ages from my high schoolers.  I will cover their stuff at a later date in either one or two posts.  

I love a good spine.  What is a spine?  No, in this case it is not the bones that help support your back.  However, like a human spine, a curriculum spine is a support system.  And, as far as curriculum goes, it helps you set the pace for a good program.  I have 2 spines that I use for our history learning.  
World History

We love Story of the World by Peace Hill Press of the Well Trained Mind for our World History.  It is lovely.  Perfect for the Charlotte Mason mama.  There are 3 parts to the curriculum, though not all are necessary - the reader, the activity book, and the CD set.  While I love all 3, you can pick and choose what you want.  Here is my normal for using this set.  First, we read the day's section from the reader.  Then, we follow it up with some narration.  You can make up your own OR she has a lovely set with each chapter in the activity book.  Then, we follow all that up any activity we may have planned.  The activity book is chocked full of ideas - maps (we love these), coloring pages, arts and crafts, and, my favorite, extensive book lists broken down by age for each chapter!   I either do an activity or read a fun book to them.  We always do the maps.  The CD's are awesome for car rides, rest times, or bedtime listening.  A simple but effective way to review.  I simply love this series.  There are 4 book sets to the series - Ancient History, Medieval History, Early Modern Times, and Modern Times.

"Now, how is that just a spine?  I thought you said it was a support system."  A good spine allows fluctuation and the ability to "do your own thang."  And, this does just that.  If we find a particular part of history more fun, we stop and do even more with it - whether it be a fun Lego build, more arts and crafts, create costumes, more reading, or a great movie.  For Ancient History, I like to pause along the way and incorporate where the major Bible history falls in.  All of the Bible can be covered throughout the first book in the series, Ancient History.  

And, while I love this curriculum, it is just world history.  It is a great overview of it.  However, it lacks in good solid American History.  Oh, yes, it covers it in a broad sense, but that is what she does with every country around the world.  Since we live in the United States, American History, I wanted us to learn American history in further detail.

American History

About the time we were ready to begin American History, we were introduced to Homeschool in the Woods by Amy Pak.  There are has been no turning back for me.  I love the flexibility and thoroughness this curriculum has to offer.  Here again, it was my spine.  We have had such a blast with this series, following it and then diving off to do our own thing.  All come in either CD format or downloadable format, so, yes, you have printing to do.  But, it is worth the ink.  I have printed up, for each one, the reader sections.  You could easily read them off a computer screen, but, I personally do not enjoy that.  I would rather have it in a notebook so I can interact with my kids more.  Stick them in a notebook and you don't have to print ever again!  There are loads of activities to choose from.  You can either put it all in a lapbook style.  Or, there are notebooking pages you could do.  We have done both.  I prefer notebooking over lapbooks, as I have to come discover over the years.  Also, included with these are large book and movie lists, a newspaper older children can write up as they go along, lovely timelines, maps, games, and a nice little calendar you could follow.  (We followed the calendar loosely, very loosely.  It was good to keep us on track, but we kept diving off so much, it would always take us longer than the time she alloted).  At the end, she gives recipes, decorations, and even invitation ideas for a wrap up party!  It is great fun.  These start from the beginning of American history - exploration through the 20th century.  (Side note - she also has some world history as well which looks well done as well.  I have never tried them because these are the newer parts to her history series and we were already set on the Story of the World for us.)

Again, this was our spine.  I would dive off for costumes, Lego, and other goodness if we so chose to do so.  And, like Bible history, I would incorporate these where they fell into the Story of the World timeline.  This has worked well for us.  It gives us variety and a good sense on how the history timeline falls.

A couple of other good things that we have enjoyed to bring our histories to life are videos.  We have loved the Liberty Kids series, Drive thru History, and America, the Story of Us series.  YouTube has some great videos as well to add to it.  I found this list a while back and it has been a useful resource for me.  As far as fun listening is concerned, Jim Weiss is hands down our favorite storyteller!  He has an awesome collection of historical listening.  You can find his CD collection here.  

As far as extra literature is concerned, there are a couple of series that if you can get your hands on, even from the library, you will love them

Landmark history series - older series, but, oh, so good - here is a wonderful list
Who was? What is? etc. series
The Magic Treehouse series (here is my post on where they fit into history)
Cornerstone of Freedom series - another older series, but very good - here is a list

One final resource.  I love a good anthology of literature.  I have a collection of them, to be exact.  I will share them more when I get to literature, but here is a great one for your history needs.  It went out of print for a while, but it is now back in print.  And, it is a gem.  My copy looks like this:

However, Nothing New Press has rereleased it and now it looks like this:

(isn't that a gem of a cover-loving the vintage look)

Get your hands on a copy of this book.  You won't regret it!

That wraps it up for History.  What's your favorite curriculum or books for history?  Let me know in the comments.   Have a great weekend and enjoy some history!