Sunday, June 12, 2011

Journeying with a friend

For the past couple of months my best friend, who lives on the other side of the world, and I have had a weekly skype chat time. We talk about our hearts, our days, our joys and challenges with the kids, we swap and collaborate on homeschooling ideas - it is such a blessing. She is such a blessing.
It is so good to have someone to share with. And someone safe - who has known me for years and walked with me through the good, the bad and the uglies.

I am so grateful for my friend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


We've been doing something simple that has been really encouraging for me and for the boys, so I thought I'd share it here.
In our morning Bible time we have been reading through "Leading Little Ones to God" by Marilyn Schooland. In each of these short devotions there are Bible passages to read. S is our only fluent reader at this stage, so he enjoys reading aloud. But both B and N know all their letter sounds and can recognize some words, so we don't skip over them, but they follow along and when their turn comes they pronounce the first sound in the word and then I read the word. If it is a word they know they read it and keep going.
This has seemed to give all the boys great encouragement in reading - and as I see it, it's probably for multiple reasons.
1. They are actively engaging with us in family reading time.
2. They are reading something real and solid in reading the Bible.
3. They are practicing what they know and interacting with what they don't.

One of those wonder moments came when at the end of the day when V returned from work and B met him at the door exclaiming "Dad, I read a whole verse from the Bible! Almost as fast as S."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A pause

Hi all.
I probably won't be publishing much (if anything) to this blog for about 4 weeks. I have begun my final teaching practicum placement, which means I am planning lessons for high schoolers on such subjects as writing a letter to the editor, poetry analysis and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
So, the boys are having a blast with their Dad - somedays I think he gets more done than I do. What a guy!!

I'll be back. See you then.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Letter Work or Fun

Finger painting.
Letter practice.

All rolled into one.

It was fun.
Honestly, though, it was a bit difficult to persuade the boys to practice their letters rather than doodle only. And, yes, we did do plenty of doodling too! :)

Adventure Fridays!

We have decided that Fridays are, at least for now, Adventure Fridays!! (hear the da-da-ta-dum music)
Last week I stood at the top of our driveway watching the boys construct castles and forts and privateer ships - and enjoying every moment of it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

True Treasures - a foray into character building

As I thought and prayed about the coming year with the boys, the issue of character kept coming to my mind. That is one of the major reasons we are homeschooling - to instill (or sow seeds of ) godly character.
Where to begin stumped me for a while, but then Colossians 3:8-9, 12-14 kept cropping up.

"Now, you must rid yourselves of all such things as these anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to one another . . . Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity."

I decided to use this passage to guide our first foray into deliberate addressing of character issues. So we are beginning our days together with "True Treasures" - coming from Proverbs 22 and from Matthew 6. I introduced Colossians 3 with this activity - I wrote some notes afterwards with the boys, I've left them on the last page of this document.

We are touching on one character quality each week. I am trying to address the character quality from a variety of different angles: the Word of God, application in our lives, stories, activities - anything to try and plant a seed of understanding in their hearts.

Our first week we looked at Compassion - to "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15). We read stories on being Tenderhearted from "A Child's Book of Character Building" by Ron & Rebekah Coriell.

Our second week we looked at Kindness - we listened to a story and song by Steve Green from "The Adventures of Sir Bernard"; we talked about how kindness is showing God's love to others; we read from the Bible and acted out a story of Robin Hood and a poor knight as read by StoryNory.

This coming week we'll be looking at Humility. No plans yet - I want to ask the Lord for some ideas.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The grace of a schedule

I wrote this earlier this week to a friend...

Here's a classic for you. We had one day on a schedule - then muffed it all up the second day. I was so tempted, as I have done in the past, to just give up again and throw it all out and focus on how I failed, etc. But then, God's grace caught me - and I remembered that with a schedule I now have something to return to - I don't have to give up. I can begin again! It might not sound monumental, but it was liberating for me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vikings - Part 2

I just realized that I hadn't finished the posts about our Viking projects... (an earlier post)

"To the boats, lads! To the boats!"

Now we were on to the boats...

(Point by point might be easier to follow.)

We got our basic design from Technology in the Time of the Vikings by Peter Hicks. We borrowed it from our local library.

1. We drew a basic Viking longboat shape onto a piece of cardstock.

2. We cut it out - then traced it onto another piece of cardstock.

3. We stapled the ends together - gave it a little squeeze together to create a boat shape.

4. We used a piece of standard paper to trace the size and shape needed for the deck, and cut it out.

5. Then we cut that out and traced it to cardstock adding a 1 cm border (except at the bow and stern points, which needed to be kept to the pattern in order to fit back in the boat).

6. We cut out a small piece of cardstock to use as the mast support (see photo).

7. Then we painted the body of the boat and the deck.

8. To attach the deck cardstock to the body of the boat, we made small cuts in the outer edge of the deck cardstock and then stapled it in the body of the boat.

9. For a mast, we glued five popsicle / iceblock sticks together using a hot glue gun. We used one stick in the centre of the other other four to stabilise the mast and to create a slot at the top for the sail to attach. (see photo)

10. We attached the mast support to the deck with hot glue and cut a small slit in the deck for the mast to slide into. (nope, she's not seaworthy. :)

11. Then we slid the mast into the mast support and the hole in the deck. I turned the boat upside down and added a bit of hot glue for an extra solid mast. Those stormy northern seas can be rough on a ship, you know.

12. The boys spent time designing and decorating their own square sails. The we attached the sail to the mast by gluing a popsicle stick to the top of the sail - only at each end. That way we could slide the sail into the mast.

Now, that gave us the basics of the boat. We also added a top flag, shields around the outer edge (in true Viking flair), and a dragon masthead and tail.

This was a fun project with lots of designing and creative opportunities... for all of us.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My attempts at getting organised...

I have been realizing that if I want our homeschool days to have a rhythm, then our home has to have some rhythm too. So I have begun to sketch out some ideas... feel free to print and use them if you find them helpful.

A 2-week dinner schedule - with room for to-do's and shopping needs. I got the quote from a story I read about Ruth Bell Graham who had this quote above her kitchen sink.

I really wanted the boys to be involved in helping, but all too often I would forget and be unprepared for their help. I find if I schedule it in, then it is there in black and white - it's a way of holding myself to it, too. A Helper Schedule.

Read-Aloud list - to keep a record of the books we read aloud together. I'll be putting together some form of reviews for each one too (any suggestions?).

Read-Aloud Ideas list - to keep a record of those books that other people mention to me and I write on random bits of paper which I am always meaning to compile.

I am working on our schedules, so when I nail down some forms for those I'll post them as well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I am attaching here two things I used with the boys to start off our year.


For those of you who know me well, don't fall over when you think of me helping to set goals, although I must say I feel highly inadequate to help anyone set goals. I am not by nature a forward thinking person, yet I am beginning to see the great benefit that we can reap from setting goals. I explained it to the boys like an archer aims at a target, goals give us something to set our sights for - to head towards.

The 'Who Am I?' sheet was adapted from another homeschool mum's idea. (Jessica Fisher at I like the idea of having a snapshot of the boys at the beginning of each year.

A chore chart

The other day, 0ne of my closest friends and I were talking about chores and helping our kids be responsible for their own chores. I mentioned that right now we have a system that seems to help keep the boys on task at least for their set morning responsibilities (brushing teeth, making bed, unloading the dishwasher, etc.). So I thought I would post it here in case it is beneficial for anyone else. (To give credit where credit is due, it was actually my husband's idea, and I carried it out).

The basic premise is 'to do' and 'done' columns with magnets that the boys move across when they have completed their chore. I did little drawings and the words of the chore on each magnet (which is just simply drawn on paper, laminated and then a magnet stuck on the back with double sided tape - I'd tried hot glue too, but the double-sided tape worked better).
We've used our fridge as the chart. I made the lines out of black duct tape, and wrote the headings with permanent marker. And if others might not want to deface their fridge in such a way, any metal surface would work: a white board on the bedroom door or other communal area might be an option. I like the chart in the kitchen because it is central and I don't have to go far to keep track.

In our home, the boys know that they are not free to play until all their morning chores are finished. Some chores are personal (brush teeth, make bed, get dressed, feed dog, check goats) and some are rotated weekly (set table, unload dishwasher, laundry helper). The boys also check with me after all their chores are done with "Anything else to do, Mum?" This keeps them accountable to do their morning responsibilities with minimal nagging from me. It also lets me know when they've finished. And then if there are any other things to be done we can get them done, then the boys know they are free to play. I think I started that as well to begin to instill a habit of serving and offering to help.

I still have to remind them at times about being diligent, but this way I don't hear myself saying "Have you brushed your teeth? Have you made your bed?, etc." quite so often. I simply check their chart and if everything is not in the 'Done' column, then I remind them "Work before play." And 'check your chart'.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A new year!

Well, today is the day.

We are beginning our 'school' year today - and in a new way. We've been teaching the boys since, well, since the womb, I suppose. (I used to read out loud to my eldest when he was in my womb - mostly, JRR Tolkien, at that time)

But it is a bit different now. I've been feeling the need, for the good of us all, to be more organized, consistent and purposeful in our learning. This week we will begin small with a few new things - and move our way towards a schedule.

I've often thought how God ordered His world and gave us seasons - a rhythm to life. I'd like to order our days like that with a purposeful rhythm.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Alphabet games

I was just reading a recent article on the Simply Charlotte Mason website about teaching the alphabet and it reminded me of an activity I used to do with the boys.
When my eldest was 2 or 3, I made the letters of the alphabet using a single sheet of paper per letter – drew a fun stick figure on it and then coloured the letters in with fun, bright colours. Then I laminated them – for longevity.
We played a wide variety of games with these letters. One of our favourites was to lay out a selection of the letters and then I’d say “Jump to the P” or “Put one foot on the G”, etc. As their letter recognition got better, I’d add things like “Walk to the L, Put your right hand on the H, then hop over the Z”, etc. As the boys were able to spell simple words, I’d lay out the letters and have them collect and then spell “CAT” or others. I also used the letters for phonic recognition rather than letter name recognition.
It was a fun game for the boys to use their bodies and minds.