Category Archives: 31 days

31 Days of Creative Homeschooling: Guest Post

Today I have a visitor! I’ve opened my blog up to Kara of If Mama Ain’t Happy to share how she loves to get the creative juices flowing and I have to say she is a girl after my own creative heart! May her words inspire you:

Every now and then in my domain of homeschool land I find myself driving my kids to just get their to-do list done. Sometimes it’s just inevitable. I mean, stuff just has to get done. I’m in my twelfth year of homeschooling and if I have learned one thing it’s that my kids need to be creative to be productive. If school work has become drudgery, or brings on tears in under 30 seconds, I know it’s time to get the creative juices flowing.

Some days that’s easier said than done. First off, getting creative means something different to everyone. Second, sometimes the fear of not doing something right will hold us back from trying something new.

When we’re stuck in a rut and can’t get out I have a few go-to sure-fire ways to get my people excited:

Step out.

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Sometimes that means a quick walk around the block, other times it means a hike in the woods. It all depends on how long we’ve been cooped up in the house and what the weather is doing. When I was in college taking child development classes I observed in a pre-school. The teacher insisted that, rain or shine, the children spend at least two twenty minute sessions outside every day. That has stuck with me all these years later. Everyone benefits when you get outside to get some fresh air, and seeing the colors of Creation, taking time to notice minutia can be enough to loosen up the stagnant rivers in the kids’ brains. The kids may grumble when I announce it’s time to go out but I notice on the way back inside they’re all (mostly) smiling.

Journal.

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Doodle. Color. Paint. Whatever tickles your fancy. It's super important to give kids options and time to just create. This year I decided to buy each of my four kids a sketch book. This has been a stretch for some of my less artsy inclined children, but it has taught them to think out of the box. Sometimes I give them a topic, sometimes we find magazines to cut pictures for collages. The first time we journaled we went to a park. It was not the harmonious experience I had hoped because it challenged the kids to be creative with a different medium besides Legos or scrolling on Pinterest. It was great, though, to watch the kids share their work later that evening with their Dad. I'm not as diligent about getting out the bag I was the first weeks of school, but when I get the satchel that holds the art journals and supplies I hear way more cheers than groans.

Tidy up. This is my least favorite but most helpful tactic to encourage innovative thinking. I will just go on and confess that I am far from a neatnik. My husband might even call me a clutter bug. I think of myself as someone who organizes with piles. Piles on the couch, piles on the table, or any flat surface, actually, and piles on the floor. I do not know many homeschoolers who avoid the eventual pile up that occurs when you do school at home. I do know, however, that when our house is (mostly) tidy we are much more productive, and therefore much more creative.

Pump up the jam. Well, maybe not with Salt-N-Peppa, but putting music on helps bring out the imagination. As a young mom I would sometimes call out, “Dance party!” and my little people would come get their groove on in the kitchen with me. I still sometimes call for a Dance Party, but we also like to listen to genres that are new. It’s how we learn what we like. It’s also how I can get my kids to do something they would ordinarily think they couldn’t do. Having them paint, draw, or write a story as they listen to new music allows them to enter their own world and interpret what they’re hearing on their own.

Being creative every day is vital to our homeschool, and really just to being alive. I believe that being creative connects us to our Creator, and look at how creative He is! I think getting out play dough, throwing some Legos on the table, playing with glue, taking pictures of nature, anything that fuels the artistic tendencies in children will get those juices going.

Sometimes, parents even find themselves getting creative!

See? What’d I tell you? Super inspiring!
Thanks Kara for stopping by & dropping off some sweet & creative encouragement!

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31 Days of Creative Homeschooling: Holy Monday

As my children got older, our schedule filled with classes, co-ops, church, and different group activities. Each one was something really wonderful but I found myself missing those quiet days at home and my children were needing more downtime. After a while I came up with Holy Mondays. IMG_2808.JPG
This schedule includes almost everything we are doing in October, I left off doctor appointments and some scheduled music lessons my daughter & I teach.
Holy Monday is a day set apart from our schedule, I try not to allow any doctor or dentist appointments to fall on those days. When we first started Holy Mondays, it usually meant Monkey Bread, read alouds, art projects, board games & maybe a movie. Now it means the kids are welcome to sleep in and get a late start, several hours of uninterrupted school time, science projects, and hopefully a nice long walk for the new puppy. It also gives me a chance to catch up on any grading or prep work for my music classes. As I look at that list from when the kids were younger I see many things I’d like to add now too! Monkey Bread Mondays were a real thing for us for years & I’m kinda missing that.
It takes some practice but scheduling a quiet day refreshes me, makes me a better teacher & a more patient wife & mom.

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31 Days of Creative Homeschooling: Laying Down the Rails

We have a new puppy! So much excitement. We surprised Parker with Luna as an early birthday gift and along with a puppy a lot of responsibility. The first day was filled with adorable floppy puppiness and a lot of cleaning up the floor. The next day was again full of adorableness, floor cleaning and teething. And every day after filled with figuring out potty training, teething training and crate training. It all very much reminds me of parenting, am I right? So much training, so much to figure out. What schedule works best, how often something has to be said or done for something to change, a whole lot of patience and practice.

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The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for
herself smooth and easy days.—Charlotte Mason
Charlotte likened good habits to rails on which our children’s lives could run
smoothly. It is the parent’s business to lay down those rails. — Sonya Shafer,
Laying Down The Rails

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
“By Education is a discipline, is meant the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body. Physiologists tell us of the adaptation of brain structure to habitual lines of thought––i.e. to our habits” ~ Charlotte Mason

I am a huge Charlotte Mason fan. We have used many of her guidelines in our schooling and I have to say that one that we have been very dedicated to is the idea of good habits. “Laying down the rails” of habit in our children’s lives. Especially when it comes to learning their musical instruments. We require our children to learn an instrument as part of our homeschool and we require them to practice. When they are first beginning to learn we are especially regimented with their practice routine.

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Dr Suzuki created an exceptional violin school and it’s methods are now taught world wide. His famous quote is, “Only practice on the days you eat!”
When my oldest was first learning the cello we scheduled her practice around lunch time. I knew I wouldn’t forget to eat and I wouldn’t forget to have her practice; therefore a nice habit was formed! The younger two practice around their math schedule, one practices while the other does math.
For your children to be successful with their instruments, I highly suggest being creative and making a daily practice routine! Be silly with it ~ practice at 11:06 every day! Make it fun by practicing outside! Practice all the songs backward! Play the same line 10 times and then get 10 M&Ms! Get big fuzzy dice and roll them to see how many times to play a line or a piece. Put the fun back in to practice ~ it doesn’t have to be drudgery.

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31 Days of Creative Homeschooling: Reading Challenge

This past spring I sat down at my table, cut a piece of paper into a square & drew a chart. My children had stacks of books they wanted to read, I had stacks of books I wanted to read and none of us were making the stacks any shorter.
I challenged the kids to 30 days of reading, 30 minutes each day. I scattered rewards on a few of the days ~ double dip ice cream cones, new book day & target cash!
When double dip cone day came along I treated them to ice cream from our local ice cream shop & new book day had us all at Barnes & Noble browsing shelves. Target cash found us with new Nerf gun bullets & a few more Legos.
After day 30 everyone was ready to do it again. We have switched it up a little every time adding different requirements such as 45 minutes instead of 30, a nonfiction book, and a book of the bible. We’ve also switched up the rewards including trading cards, movie night, pizza night, “you pick” dessert, and iTunes cash.
It ended up being a very simple but effective challenge for all of us! IMG_2582.JPG

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Looking back

As I get ready to spend 31 days sharing our most Creative Homeschooling ideas, I thought I would share some older homeschooling posts!
We made our own simple savings jars a couple of years ago.

We have also been known to homeschool all around the city!

I have many many “this moment”
posts on the blog, but this one especially stands out to me as my son spent so many Mondays making Monkey Bread. It was his ritual for years! I love that he will still make it for us on occasion.

Lastly here is a “day in the life” from 2012! We were exploring 5th & 6th grades & junior year of high school. I will post another day in the life this year during the 31 days.

PicMonkey Collage

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31 days ~ grace

When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man in the world. ~ CS Lewis

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Okay ~ so I’m going to look at the Luther quote in sections, please feel free to jump in with your thoughts!

“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world.”

“If you are a preacher of grace…..”I am going to assume that he is not only speaking of  men of the cloth. Aren’t we all to be preachers of grace?

preach·er  [pree-cher]

noun

1.

a person whose occupation or function it is to preach  the gospel.
       While it isn’t my occupation I do believe the Lord intends it to be my function to preach/share/teach the gospel. Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. “
        Luther says to preach a true and not fictitious grace. Fictitious being not real, imaginary or fabricated.  There are plenty of those “kinds of graces” taught in society, right? Good works will get you into heaven, prayers for those who have already passed away will get them into heaven, being a suicide bomber will give you great rewards… all fictitious graces. True grace? That Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and only because of that can we have hope of eternal life. That is true grace.
  Next Luther says, that if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. Now this is a bit trickier. IF we used one of the graces above (good works etc..) then how would our sins be fictitious? Could this be something like beating yourself up for actions or circumstances out of your control?  Luther had experience with that. He literally beat himself for his daily sins…..”He practiced self-denial by frequent fasting and sleeping outdoors in the winter without a blanket. He prayed constantly and beat himself with a whip to show God how sincere he was in his desire for holiness and salvation. Luther went to confession as all good monks did, but his confessions were far from ordinary. While the average monk would go over a few basic sins and get it over with, Luther would dredge up everything he could think of from the years past to the present day. He would repeat confessions of sins he had already confessed, thinking perhaps he hadn’t been sincere enough in the previous confession. Sometimes confessing four times a day, his confessions lasted for hours, until his confessors dreaded the approach of their guilt-ridden brother.”  ( spirit of grace ministries
    IF our grace is true ~ if we are sharing the gospel and how we are utterly incapable of saving ourselves, when others see us fall on our face, will they understand His Grace even more? I can only hope that is the case. That the Holy Spirit uses my foibles to His advantage in the hearts of others. I have said things I wish I could grasp out of the air and shove back into my mouth, I have done things that made me wish I had a time turner like Hermione Granger , that I might replay that time and not take those actions… we all do, right?
        As someone believes without a doubt in Jesus Christ, and one who shares that belief with others then we can, ” Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world.” REJOICE in Christ even more boldly! Stop apologizing for everything and be Christ to others ~ stop explaining away our sins and our religion and just profess His redeeming love and salvation. NO Apologizing, just be His ~ just live in His Grace each day!
Whew ~ what freedom!!

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