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April 25, 2011

Home Schooling Series Part 5 ; Lap Books

In some previous posts I mentioned that we were doing a chicken lapbook. I have had a lot of people ask what a lap book is.

A lapbook is the same idea as a mini unit study. It covers a topic and can include all of your subjects except math. There are excellent resources online for lapbooks. For the lapbook we did on chickens I found most of my resources here.

I have done different kinds of unit studies or study centers with our children over the years, but this is the first time I have done a lapbook. It is really my preferred way of teaching and our kids preferred way of learning. The only thing is it takes TIME and EFFORT to put it all together! But I have to say it is well worth it. Just not always realistic. J

Here is how we did our lapbook, the subjects we covered and the things we learned.

We first took duo tang folders (Clear cover ones). Using index dividers (with the tab on the side) we divided our lapbook into 3 sections; Eggs, Chicks and Chickens. We used the front of the first divider to make a cover and we used the dividers to glue our booklets, charts, drawings and diagrams to. And our extra worksheets, we put into the back of the lapbook.

In our lapbook we covered social studies (different breeds and where they originated), science (experiments,charting, observation), language arts (alphabetical order, dictionary skills, grammer, spelling, outlines, research), art (drawing a chicken and coloring) & animal management.

We learned so many things in this lapbook. In our first section, eggs, we learned the parts of an egg and their different functions, how to candle an egg and tell if it is fertilized, how to choose the right eggs for incubation and how to hatch eggs in an incubator. In our section, chicks, we learned about the growth of an embryo, (While candling an egg at 5 days I bumped one and cracked it. We had learned that cracked eggs will probably not grow a healthy chick, because of disease and such, so I decided to open it up and observe what was going on inside. We were amazed to see a tiny little heart beating, what a miracle!), how to care for chicks, what to feed chicks, diseases and sickness in chicks. In our last section, chickens, we learned the different parts of the chicken, the digestive system, different breeds, and the purpose of chickens.

When we were about half way through this lapbook the kids were already excited about the “next one” we were going to do and what the topic would be! I wasn’t aware that there was going to be a “next one” but how can you deny a child who loves learning? So we are now starting a lapbook on sharks!!! Even though this may not be quite as practical, as we don’t plan to raise sharks any time in the near future, it will be fun to learn all about another amazing creature that God made.

Our chicks are hatching as I write, so everyone is pretty excited about that! Everyone is amazed at God's creation. How amazing that exactly at 21 days the eggs started to hatch!!! What a mighty God we serve!!! Now we will put into practice the things that we have learned. We plan to hatch at least another batch or 2 of eggs and grow some for meat and some for laying hens. So really the adventure has just begun :)

So that was our lapbook journey! So what about you. Have you ever done a lapbook with your children? What did you study about?

April 21, 2011


Since we are incubating chicken eggs we decided to do a lapbook about chickens.
We just finished it up yesterday.

The boys had such a great time that they asked to do another lapbook, but this time about sharks.
When Jesse saw me getting the material together for the shark lapbook he looked at me with concern in his big brown eyes and said, 
"Mom, we're not going to try to hatch sharks are we?!?!?"

I just don't think they'd fit in the incubator :)

April 19, 2011


What I've been up to?!?
Go here to see what happened today and why I aquired a few more gray hairs in the past week :)


April 18, 2011

Homeschooling Series Part 4: Life Learning

One of our favorite mottoes "LIFE IS LEARNING, LEARNING IS LIFE". Learning is so much more than just sitting down and studying some books. It happens all around us, all the time. And our challenge as home schooling parents is to keep an eye out for those opportunities and actually use those moments as teaching moments.

Right now we are hatching some chicken eggs in an incubator. We check the temps of the incubator all day long. We have candled the eggs to see if they are fertile. We have read and studied about incubators, how to pick and hatch eggs, parts of an egg, taking care of chicks.....the list is endless. And we anticipate HATCH DAY!  Our kids will probably remember forever most of the information they have learned about chickens because not only are they very interested, but they will be using putting this info into practice for many years to come. This is a tool that is going to equip them for life skills. And it is also teaching them the awesomeness of our wonderful Creator and the beauty of a new life.

Just in nature alone God has given us things to study, enough to last a life time! Keep a caterpillar and watch it turn into a moth or a butterfly. Keep a fish and study how it moves and swims and grows. Plant some seeds and learn about reproduction and growth of plants. Study about the amazing migration of birds in spring or fall.

If you keep your eyes and ears open and you will find something to study about. Listen to the questions your kids ask you....How does this work? Why does this do that? What does this look like? Kids are always asking questions, and when they do, take this as an opportunity to teach them. Not every question has to take days or weeks to cover. Sometimes it can take minutes! But if your child asks, then they are interested. And when you take the time to teach them the information, they will remember it, because it is something they want to know.

Watch your kids and take note of the things that they have talent for and are interested in and if you are able, provide the tools they need to learn these interests. Now we have to be careful here and not just on a whim buy everything our child needs when they show a little interest in something. I am more talking about things that they have proved that they will follow through with, not just some passing whim. It took years of Megan using our family camera and proving that she really wanted to learn more about photography before we purchased her first camera. Jennifer used our old clippers and dull scissors for many years before we started to buy her better tools for haircutting. Our girls had an older horse for years before we bought them their own horses. Our boys want a banjo and a bass guitar. It will be a little more challenging to know if they will follow through with this. But they do have an older guitar that I will give them lessons on to see if learning an instrument is something they will stick to. They also like to build things and last year we gave them some wood that was lying around to build a tree house. Seeing the great job they did, we will probably provide them with a little better wood on their next project. God has given each of our children a talent(s) and we can use homeschooling to develop those talents! And what joy and satisfaction to know that this will not be information that will just go in one ear and out the other, but it will benefit them for years to come. That is real learning.

So, you ask, does this mean that you see no place for text book work? No, I am not saying that at all. I think that text book work has a time and a place and can be a valuable tool to teach problem solving, persistence and thinking skills. But what I am saying is I believe a major part of learning happens outside text books.

Our purpose to home school is to equip our children for whatever path God has in store for them. And as I mentioned last post, we do not believe that this will be done only through text books. This will be done through life learning.

When we think of teaching our children we think of so much more than just the hours that we sit down and do school with them. It happens all around us all the time whether we like it or not. Our children are always learning. From wee little they learn.

We have 5 daughters. The older three are almost through the school of learning how to run a household. They have learned to cook, bake, do laundry, take care of babies and children, gardening, keep a home clean and comfortable, teach. These are the practical, hands-on things. But more importantly they have learned the heart things, love, joy, patience, peace, self-control, gentleness, grace, forgiveness, kindness, submission & obedience. Knowing that our daughters have learned (and are still learning) these things gives us confidence that they will be well equipped for the path that God has for them. And our youngest 2 daughters will learn the same things, and already have from watching their mama and 3 big sisters!

We have 7 sons. One is already married and is a wonderful husband and daddy. 4 of our boys range in age from 12-7. These four are under serious training right now. Some of the things they are learning are animal management, providing food for the family, creating, fixing, building, cleaning up after themselves, & yard care. Again, practical hands on things but not worth much unless they are also learning these heart things and more…servant hood, leadership, forgiveness, endurance, humility, obedience, thankfulness, perseverance and grace. As much as they have learned in these areas, they are still learning them every day and we know that this training will equip them for the path that God has for them to walk on. And our 2 little guys (2 & 8 ½ ) months are on the beginning of this journey, mostly working on obedience right now!

And this is what we believe a major part of learning is. It’s not all about algebra, calculus, physics, chemistry or fractions. It’s also and most importantly about the issues of the our heart and learning what is important to the heart of God.

Most of our schooling is life training. And to tell you the truth sometimes all the "other stuff" gets in the way. It clouds my vision of what is important to teach our kids in a day. I sometimes brush off those impromptu teaching/character training moments because I am busy with the "text". I get caught up in the ABC's of education rather than the truths of God's Word. I let the world's idea of education and learning dictate the way we do school. I need to keep my focus on God and what He requires of me as we teach our children.

Our goal as we home school is to have children who will never graduate. Because they have developed a love for learning they will continue to want to learn all of their life. That they will always be learning because they are not afraid to ask questions.  And most importantly, that they will always have desire to learn more about God and grow ever closer to Him.

We don't just want to raise children that made it through text book work. We want children that have learned the things that will equip them for life. That they will know how to think things through and solve problems that they encounter.  That they will tackle a challenge (physically or spiritually) head on. That when trials and trouble come their way, they will not crumble, but rather stand firm. That they will be able to get along with all kinds of people with all kinds of personalities and be able to love as Jesus loves. That the fruits of the Spirit will be evident in their lives.

What a wonderful opportunity we have in home schooling our children. What a joy to spend all of our days with them and to be able to teach them life skills, recognize the talents that God has placed in them, being there to answer their questions and teach in these moments of genuine interest, train them in Godly character and most importantly to teach them what God desires of them and to teach them to follow Him all the days of their lives. I love home schooling :)

For the next homeschooling post(s) I would like to talk about what you would like to read about. So if you have a topic/question you would like me to cover, leave a comment and I will be happy to do that in the coming post.

April 16, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like.....

Winter :)

Yesterday we had another dump of snow. 
And even though all of my flesh wants to focus on the negative I will focus instead on this.

It was such a beautiful snowfall, snowflakes gently falling.
Brought such peace and calm.
And now all the mud and dirt has been covered by a pure white blanket of snow.
It reminds me of how if I ask Him, God forgives and covers the filthiness of my sin.

And because of this, the snow was worth it.
Thanks for the reminder, I love you God :)

   Though your sins are like scarlet,     

They shall be as white as snow; 

Though they are red like crimson, 

They shall be as wool. 

Isaiah 1:18

April 15, 2011


Around here you never know what you're going to find out in the barn.
Today Zachary went out to do his daily job of picking the eggs.
We have 2 hens running loose outside the chicken pen.
They like to lay eggs randomly around the barn, so Zachary was trying to find them.
Then he found one of the hens, herself, in chicken (well it's not in person :).
But when he went to move her, to see if there were eggs under her, she started pecking at him. 
Because this is what hens tend to do when they are hiding eggs under them, 
Zachary was sure there was something under her worth getting.
So he persisted.
And when he moved her off her nest, he found out he was right! 
But rather than finding an egg  or two like he had expected...he found A BABY KITTEN!!! 
This kitten belonged to a cat that had a batch of kittens a few weeks ago.
 I guess this hen figured she would like to be a mama too!!!! 
And the kitten, who was all snuggly and warm under there, didn't seem to mind it at all. 
I'm not sure what the chicken would have done when the kitten decided it was hungry?!?!?!

Anyway, that's life on our funny farm!!!!

April 12, 2011

Homeschooling Series Part 3: Bringing School Home or Homeschooling? (CONTINUED)

The last post I talked about our goal of homeschooling rather than just simply bringing school into our home. Now I am going to talk about what this looks like for us, practically.

We have long ago found that the best cirriculum is something that most of us, who are Christians, have in our home....even several of them. Yes, it's the Bible! We have always had the Bible as part of our home schooling, but not to the extent that it is now. Now to us, reading and studying the Bible is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of our schooling. We do not go into our regular subjects in a day without first doing our memory verses and devotions. (An exception would be when the boys get up early they will start on a subject while waiting for me to join them.) The reasoning for this is that we want our children to know that even though knowledge is important, the wisdom of God is the most important thing in our lives. Head knowledge should never replace heart wisdom. And the reason we do it first thing is I found too many times, if we waited until later on in the morning, it would be pushed by the wayside because we ran out of time.

We have done many things over the years for our devotional time. This year the older girls are doing studies on their own like So Much More, Do Hard Things, Christian Character. And with the younger ones I have been going through Created for Work and Boyhood and Beyond. Every week the younger ones memorize a new scripture verse. (the older girls work at this on their own). The boys copy the verse on worksheets that I make here.  And just recently, because I know how much easier it is to memorize a verse and reference to music, I have been putting together a song for each verse. The kids love it, and learn it so much quicker (and I do too!!!) Just a side note here, besides the spiritual benefit, memorizing and copying scriprture verses is a very good way to sharpen memory skills, practice penmanship, spelling and sentence structure. We are also learning the books of the Bible, so we go through that too. (You can find some great songs online to teach this). Now this part of our day may only take a few minutes or it may take much longer. I never want to rush this, laying this foundation in their lives is the most important thing. So we take our time if we need to.

Some of you have asked me in the past what curriculum I am using, and to tell the truth hesitate to do tell you. Why? I guess I know, from experience, how this works. Someone comes, tells you what they are using, you get all excited about it, get it, use it, HATE it!!!! or in some rare cases....LOVE it! But I have come to realize that we are all at different places in our homeschooling. Some of us have babies, toddlers, elementary, high school or all of the above.  And so what is working for me, might not work at all for you. And that's OK, God doesn't make cookie cutter families. Also there is a LOT of stuff out there, and I have by no means been able to try near all of it. But I will list what we use, not to convince you to try it or to change the way you do things....rather just for information sake.

So here is what we using this year for things like Math and Language Arts : Saxon Math, 100 Easy Lessons To Teach Your Child To Read, Spectrum Workbooks (Phonics, Spelling, Reading), Pathway Readers, Editor in Chief, and Calculadder. For our older children we require a missionary biography to be read once every 2 or 3 weeks (depending on their work load at the time) and a book report.

Now let me say something here about text books and curriculum. We are not ones to say school is done for the year when the book is done. Someone said to me years ago, "If you finish a text book, then the writers have failed you because they didn't give you enough material!" I don't judge our year being done on our books being completed. And I don't go from cover to cover. There are times where I skip some. I will not work through a book cover to cover just to "do so". We use text books as a tool, they do not dictate our schedule.

And for Science and Geography for the younger ones we mostly read-out-loud what I call "Educational Books" and these topics vary from ocean life, weather, plants, experiments, countries, inventions, creation, etc. We also have a lot of science related DVD's that we like to watch once in awhile. This year the older girls have done some of the Wonders of Creation Series. And last, but definitely not least (because it's my favorite), over the years we have done some lap books. Even though these are quite labor intensive, the kids have a blast and even learn a lot in the process :)

We start school around 8:30 or  9:00. I do have a schedule of times and subjects for each child. But this is only a guideline. Let's face it, there are just times when a certain subject just takes longer. I am not into cutting off in the middle of teaching a concept just because time is up! Or there are times when a baby needs nursing, toddler need extra attention, or a child needs some one on one. I can't predict what is going to happen in my morning, but a schedule helps me to keep on track. With this many children doing school (7 this year) I can't rely on my memory to cover all the bases!!! I love schedules, but I have learned to not let them run me. Rather I use them as a guide.

So that covers our "book work" part of schooling. Any questions?

But this is only a very small part of what we consider "school" around here. In the next post I am going to talk about the kind of learning that never grows old. I can hardly wait :) So until next time :)

April 8, 2011

Another April Birthday

And for our second (and last) April birthday we have little Miss Mikaya.
When I think of Mikaya I think sparkling eyes, priceless expressions, great smile, encourager, mischevious, talker, questions, and a whole bundle of fun!

Things of Kaya that we said goodbye to in the past year:

-Her cute little chubby rolls
-Her hair twice! (from her cutting it)
-Size 3 & 4 clothes
-Sneaking gum without asking (I hope we said goodbye to this FOR GOOD :)
- Fear of getting her hair washed in the tub
-Her baby lisp

Things of Kaya we said hello to in the past year:

-A huge vocabulary
-A fascination with anything that is considered a doll or a baby
-Learning to "nurse" her doll :)
-Compliments for everyone. Almost everyday she compliments somebody on something.
-Size 4 & 5 clothes
-Trying her hand at cutting hair (only her own thankfully)
-Coloring in the lines
-Working her way into her family's hearts even deeper


Mikaya we love you so much. You are a special blessing to our family. We pray that the joy of the Lord will continue to be your strength and that you will keep touching hearts with your beautiful personality and smile!


Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
Psalm 32:11

April 6, 2011

May May Bring Showers, but around here April Brings Birthdays

We started April off by celebrating the births of two of our sweet children. We'll start with the oldest.....

Nathan Daniel was born 04/04/04. He was the only child who has made it easy for me to remember the year he was born.....it gets tough after awhile when someone asks you the years that all your children were born :) But I come to Nathan's year with a smile and rattle it off....just like that!!!!!

Nathan is a mixture of quiet/loud, laid back/high strung, passionate/passive, sweet/sweeter!!! Nathan really likes little children, especially babies. To put it frankly, up until now, it has been kind of a hard thing, because he would always overwhelm babies with his hugs and kisses and they would end up getting quite upset when he was around. But he has found a way into Jaden's heart. And I am sure it is not on Jaden's part, cause if any baby would get upset, it would be Jaden. I think Nathan has finally figured out the way to treat babies and how to make them like to be around him. Now when Jaden sees Nathan he gives him a big smile and usually wants Nathan to pick him up!!! So now I can not only say Nathan loves babies, but also that babies love him!!! Yeah!!
Nathan is often very quiet and softspoken, but many times he is very loud! He has not quite found that in between :) He has a very sensitive heart and will melt in a puddle of emotion in a moment. This is also something he has gotten way better at and seems to have less and less meltdowns. I am so proud of him and the self-control he has shown.

He has many playmates. He is sometimes found playing boy stuff with his 3 older brothers, or if he feels like playing house, cooking, or more quiet type things, he plays with his sisters. How blessed he is....so many playmates!

He also really likes horses and cows and is out doing stuff at the barn whenever it works out. This year he has been Jennifer's shadow while she is working with the calves.

Nathan also likes sports and is very athletic for a little guy. He played a lot of ice hockey with us this year and was quick to learn where he could be useful. Being so small he can't outskate most everybody, but he found out if he stood by the opponents net, there may be a chance to score. He made quite a few goals that way!

Nathan also has a deep love for God and is a real thinker when it comes to spiritual things. He is really good at memorizing scriptures and keeps right up with his older brothers.

We love you Nathan and are so glad that God gave you as a gift to us (the meaning of Nathan's name is "Gift of God"). You are a very special young man and I look forward to see how God is going to work in your life this coming year.

Happy 7th birthday Nate :)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17

Oh and one more thing....Nathan is really good at feeding  babies, and here are some pictures to prove it!!!

April 5, 2011

Tee Hee Tuesday

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"
Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."
The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"

April 4, 2011

Homeschooling Series Part 3: Bringing School Home or Homeschooling?

Is there a difference between bringing school home and homeschooling? This is a question we began to ask ourselves years ago? And we have come to the conclusion that there is a difference, a big difference.
When we talked about home schooling our children many years ago, we pretty much had the idea that we would just take the format of public school and do it in our home. This way they could still have schooling but we could control what our children learned  plus be the primary influence in their lives.

Then came the time to start school with Joshua and Jennifer.  We got all the material and began our homeschooling journey. Everything was going along quite well.  But after some time we came to the realization that in our enthusiasm of wanting to home school we did the only thing we knew how…..we brought school into our home. And even though we had control over what our children were learning and we were the primary influence in their lives, we felt that there was more to be had from this home schooling experience. And slowly God started to show us what that would look like.
“Why did God give us children?” We knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was to train them and raise them up to be a light to the world and bring glory to Him. But how did this fit into our home schooling?

We knew that we wanted the Bible to be a very important part of our schooling. But that did not mean just reading and learning what the Bible says, but more importantly, being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer only (James 1:22). And to us that meant that a huge and most important part of our schooling would be teaching our children 1. to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. (Matthew 22:37) 2. To love their neighbor as themselves. (Matthew 22:38)

Since we also knew our calling as parents is to train up our children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it, (Proverbs 22:6) and to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) we realized that in God’s eyes teaching our children was more that just Math, Grammer, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies etc. Rather we are called to instill in them a love for God, build a strong foundation in their walk with Him and encourage them to submit their lives 100% to their Heavenly Father. This is what will  truly matter in the end.

And we soon came to an understanding that all of this wouldn't be accomplished in any curriculum or text book, but rather it was something that would need to become part of our life, all day long, every day of the week, 12 months of the year and every year of our child's life. Yes, there would definitely be a place for Math, Grammer, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies ect......but it would not be PRIORITY.

We believe that when we stand before God one day and give account of all that we have done in our lives, including how we parented our children, God is not going to focus on if we did or didn’t finish a certain Math textbook or Science curriculum etc. Rather we will give account on how obedient we were to Him  and if we taught our children to do likewise.

The more years we have children in our home, the more we understand that this time we have with them is so short. We know that their little hearts and minds will only be ours to train for a little while.  We know that once this period of their lives is over, we will never get it back again. And we know that we don't want to wake up one day and realize that in our busyness, or laziness we lost opportunitites to teach them the most important things of life. That would just be sad.


April 1, 2011

A Budding Hairdresser?


Plus This

Equals This


Who will now be wearing THIS

Funny, but not so funny thing is....she did this a few months back and her hair just nicely came back in! She has always had this thing with hair, ever since a tiny baby sucking her thumb. If she would find even one strand of hair she would hold it in her hand while sucking her thumb. We couldn't figure out how she could even feel that strand of hair it was so tiny...but she did.  

Then when she got a little older....she wanted a few more strands in her hand so she resorted to PULLING HER HAIR OUT!!! Don't worry though....she only pulled it out on one side :) So we put gloves on her pjamas so she could no longer do that anymore. It worked nicely and her hair was coming back in again.

Then she decided that she would like to be a little bald on top....and she cut her own hair......TWICE NOW!!!!!! We keep telling her that if she keeps cutting her hair it will never grow nice and long so we can put barrettes and pony tails in it......not to mention she will be wearing a hat for the rest of her life!!! I am really hoping that this will be her last little escapade. I don't think she was too pleased with the job she did this time though cause when I told her to look in the mirror I asked her if she liked it and she started crying and said beneath her tears, "NO!"

And poor Jennifer has to keep trying to make Kaya's haircuts look somewhat respectable!!!! There's only so much you can do with a bald spot right on the top of a little girls head!!!