Homeschool Mom's Journal

For Today...

Wednesday October 28, 2015
54 degrees, sunny, breezy, cool

Outside my window...

merry little breezes dancing with orange and yellow leaves
hungry birds in the bird feeder
chickens treasure hunting
children nature journaling

On my mind...

slowing down
tending to the needs of my family
nurturing friendships

I am wearing...

blue jeans
orange t-shirt
cream sweater
black socks

I am creating...

a love for learning

I am looking forward...

to making soap! 

In my kitchen... 

golden chana dahl soup*
fresh baked sprouted and fermented artisan bread
balsamic reduction fail
peas sprouting
pintos soaking  
decaf coffee brewing

My Trim Healthy Mama affiliate link! :) 

On my shopping list...

cottage cheese, apples and walnuts for waldorf cottage cheese salad
garam marsala
red curry paste
 not-naughty noodles
integral collagen
mineral salt

In the homeschool room... 

tricorne hat cookies for The Hatmaker's Sign
revolutionary war books
recipes for revolutionary minds
a cobblestone street
a tree study

Around our one-hundred year old house...

a one-hundred year old couch
two one-hundred year old chairs
a treadle sewing machine
laundry that is done
an upstairs bathroom that is clean
a new to us king-sized bed that is made
a living room that is, well, lived in
a library overflowing with books
dishes in the sink
a snuggly cat

A peek into one of my days...


A few of my favorite things...

sunshine pouring through the windows
peace and quiet
my family
a trim healthy mama treat
a trim healthy mama friend
an oily friend
a homeschool friend
a friend after God's heart
coffee and tea
lily's chocolate 

A few of my favorite essential oils...

geranium and frankincense for skin support
essential beauty serum to moisturize my face
citrus fresh and bergamot to lift my spirits
en-r-gee for adrenal support
endoflex for thyroid support
lady sclareol and progessence + for hormonal support
thieves, lemon, lemongrass, frankincense, clove, and oregano and for immune support
peppermint and di-gize for digestive support
valor for confidence 
envision for planning
frankincense for calming
lavender for anything support
purification for the laundry
stress away for away with stress
lavender, cedarwood, orange, and peace & calming II for restful sleep

Post Script 

It's that time of year again when our immune systems can use a little boost. Please join us for a Winter Wellness Essential Oils class next Monday and Tuesday.  

Essential oils are powerful advocates for each of our body systems. In this class we will learn how to support our digestive, respiratory and immune systems.

Oily goodness in my October ER order...

Everyday Oils ER Kit
(Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Frankincense, Tea Tree, Joy, Thieves, 
PanAway, Purification, StressAway and Aroma Glide Roller Fitments)
Golden Touch Kit
(Di-Gize, EndoFlex, JuvaFlex, Melrose, Raven, R.C., Thieves)
Peace & Calming II
Essential Beauty Serum
Thieves Spray
Thieves Hand Purifier
Thieves Floss  
15 ml Thieves*
5 ml Clove*
Home diffuser*

IEW Resource Set Review

IEW Phonetic Zoo
Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has wonderful resources for use in your home or private school. We received a set that includes: Timeline of ClassicsTeaching with Games Set, and A Word Write Now. I'll share a little about each one, how we used them in our homeschool, and what I thought of them.

(I am an affiliate for IEW. Links in this post may be affiliate links.)

 IEW Phonetic Zoo

Timeline of Classics: Historical Context for the Good and Great Books is a simple historical and chronological spreadsheet of select books, writings, plays, biographies, films, and recordings. It consists of a table of four columns that include a description or time period, title of the resource, author, and age/ability level (Elementary, Middle School, or High School).

The timeline follows the classical divisions of world history: Ancients, The Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and the Modern World.

Simply put, the Timeline of Classics is a tool to organize your history and literature studies by time period. Since we are in the Renaissance and Reformation period of American history, I quickly scanned the Ancients and the Middle Ages noting many books that have been a part of our studies, and spent the majority of my time in the book on The New World time period (1607 -1860s). It was super helpful that the contents are listed by time period. For example, in the time period of the Renaissance and Reformation (1450-1850), there are 7 time periods: European Exploration and Colonization, Protestant Reformation, Elizabethan Period, The New World, Age of Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and Westward Expansion.

I am not a history buff at all. I am becoming one, but when we started homeschooling I remember asking my husband “what happened when?” I was pretty clueless and pretty thankful for a curriculum full of many wonderful books (many that made the cut in the timeline), but I needed this timeline back then! Not only is the timeline full of classic, living, and real books, but the timeline gives a rundown of “what happened when” and also lists when classic books were published.

Though it has many treasures, Timeline of Classics is not the end-all list of resources. Even so, I can’t imagine trying to fit in all the books for American history - I would have to spend years on just this time period. Then I read “The Story Behind Timeline of Classics” in the appendix and was relieved to read this: “Although I desire for my children to be lifelong learners, there is no way to experience everything on this list in a lifetime.” I was honestly relieved to read this. I love that if one resource is not a good fit there are plenty more to choose from. I highly recommend this resource for homeschool families.

This resource book is printed on high quality non-glossy paper with a sturdy, high-gloss card-stock cover with a spiral binding.

 IEW Phonetic Zoo

A Word Write Now : A Thematic Thesaurus for Stylized Writing is a super kid friendly thesaurus aimed at writers of any age.

It consists of four sections:
  • A: Character Traits (the importance of characters in a story and both positive/neutral and negative/neutral character traits)
  • B: Descriptive Words (for appearance, color, size, time, temperature, texture, shape)
  • C: Words for Movements and the Senses (actions of feet, hands, hearing, seeing, smelling, speaking, thinking)
  • D: Appendix (transitions, prepositions, literary genres, and literary devices)

I took one look at Section A and I knew Malachi would love this. He loves to write stories and is always asking for advice on how to develop his character and plot. I showed him the "Introduction to Character Traits" - specifically the section on "Creating Your Own Characters for a Story" and he begged me to give him the book - on vacation! A few minutes later, he asked for a pencil and paper and started a new story. He used words from the "Determining Character Roles" list for his primary, opposing, and supporting characters. He then gave his characters traits and that’s when he asked for advice on the plot.

This resource is awesome! It is designed to be used independently and easily so. Each word has a definition, a thought or quote on the word, an excerpt from classical literature using the word, and then a list of synonyms categorized by nouns, noun characters - characters that typically display this trait (love this!), adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and even a lined blank list for additional words the student can add themselves. There is even a blank form to think of your own topic and related word lists. (This form may be reproduced for home use within your immediate family.)

Eliana (3rd grade) used the page titled "Words to Describe Appearance" to help with her English.

In the first picture, she is writing colorful words that tell about a kitten. 

In the second picture, she used colorful words to describe a kite and then wrote a shape poem about a kite.

It was nice to be able to grab A Word Write Now right when we needed it. While using it, I did find that I wished it had other topics as well. Several times I pulled it out to use and didn't find what I was looking for but found it very useful when I did.

This resource book is printed on high quality durable glossy paper with a sturdy high gloss card-stock cover with a spiral binding. It is designed for regular use by a student. The layout is appealing and the text easy to read.

 IEW Phonetic Zoo

Teaching with Games Set is a book and DVD/CD-Rom set of games designed to be used as a valuable tool in the classroom. The games can be used as an effective way to teach and review concepts in any subject area. It begins with a brief introduction on the value of games and an overview of the book.

The games are divided into five groups:
  1. “No-Prep” Games 
  2. Matching Card Games 
  3. Question Games 
  4. Math Facts Games 
  5. “Make As You Teach” Games
You are welcome to copy pages for use in your family so that the book can be used over and over. If you are teaching a small group or co-op class, you can copy the content for use in your own class, but each teacher has to purchase his or her own book. We are a part of a small, local co-op, and I thought how fun it would be to teach a class using the games in this book. Since our co-op is for electives only, I thought these games would be fun to prepare students for a Bible bee. I found several games that could easily be used for Bible trivia, but my husband has his eye on Jeopardy. Jeopardy is one of the “Question” games, so I think it would be perfect.

The book basically teaches you how to make your own games using your own content, but the set-up and rules are included for you to make this process so much easier. Furthermore, each game includes a sample game. Since we are in the throes of the Revolutionary War, I was excited to see Revolutionary War Jeopardy as the sample game for Jeopardy. It was super easy to copy the People, Places, and Events cards onto card stock and cut out to use for a round of Jeopardy, though I could have easily printed them onto cardstock from the DVD/CD that came with the book. Each set of cards has an easy, medium, and hard category. The game also includes category labels. I stacked each set of cards under each category label and we were ready to play.

To play, Malachi (5th) and Eliana (3rd) took turns choosing a category and level of difficulty and rolling the die or dice on their turn to determine the number of points for each question - one die for the easy level, two dice for the medium level, and three dice for the hard level. It was fun to play, but we had some tears over the difficulty, so we decided to save the easy questions for Eliana, and have Malachi chose from the medium and hard levels. We also gave Eliana one hint if she needed it, but then gave her half the points if she got the answer. Following the rules, if you oust the other player by answering their question after the time limit (we hummed the Jeopardy theme song after giving them ample time to answer), then you earn double points. The game also includes a double point question and a lose a turn card. I ended up skipping some question cards on material we have not yet covered, but I look forward to playing again after we finish covering the Revolutionary War. Note: If you are playing with one child, the tip is to have your student play to try to reach a certain number of points.

Malachi and I also played several rounds of No-Noose Hangman - the first “No-Prep” game in the book. We played just for fun using phrases about himself, but it is very easy to tailor this game to any subject. We used the version for a single homeschooled student, and we took turns thinking of puzzles for each other. Instead of who guessed first, the winner is whoever solves the puzzle with the fewest wrong letter guesses.

Each game has a short description, supplies needed, how to play, how to win, sample phrases or questions, and/or notes on variations or tips on playing for home use. 

The Matching Card Games section has reproducible cards for game ideas and the book has reproducibles throughout depending on the game.

For IEW users, the book also includes creative ways to use IEW curricula.

This resource book is printed on high quality non-glossy paper with a sturdy, high-gloss card-stock cover with a spiral binding.

The book also comes with three discs - two DVDs and one CD-Rom. The two DVDs contain a video of each game. I really appreciated seeing the games in action! If you are a visual person, you will appreciate the videos. I found it helpful, but the videos can get long and the instructions are well written and easy to understand without them. I found myself fast forwarding through them to get the main idea. The CD-Rom contains the book in PDF format. I like having the book in hand, but I also like knowing that if I need to print instructions or printables from the book that I can easily do that from the CD.

I think Teaching with Games will be a valuable tool to use in our homeschool and I’m excited to have this book, as well as the whole resource set as a resource in our homeschool library. I found all three products to be well done and worth the investment to have on hand.

Interested in seeing what else IEW has to offer? Please visit my Crew mates reviews to see what they reviewed from IEW by clicking below!

IEW Review

Crew Disclaimer

Homeschool Mom's Journal

For Today... 

evening of October 22nd, 2015

Outside my window...

the night sky is lit up by street lamps.

I am thinking...

how quickly this week went by and that I missed my weekly post that was due yesterday!

I am thankful...

for such an understanding and supportive husband.

I am wearing...

pajamas because I should be in bed. 

I am creating...

memories with my children. 

I am going...

to an American Heritage presentation in the morning and then a friend's house to work on a homeschool project and then I'd be happy to not go anywhere for a week. 

I am wondering...

if I will be able to keep track of what we do in our homeschool without blogging! Maybe the regular stuff that's scheduled out for me, but the fun stuff? I think I will miss documenting our homeschool. 

I am reading... 

15 Laws of Invaluable Growth, by John Maxwell. I'm moving through this turtle slow because growth... well, it is hard. 

I am hoping...

to get some work done that needs done in the house and to finish tidying soon, and also for good friends to come spend Thanksgiving with us. 

I am learning...

that slow and steady wins the race. 

In my kitchen... 

dinner tonight was mama's famous meatloaf (p. 157) with buttered broccoli sprinkled with nutritional yeast, and while waiting for the meatloaf to cook, I browned burger for cheeseburger pie (p. 149) and made homemade spaghetti sauce for lazy lasagna (p. 140) for tomorrow and Sabbath. 

dessert tonight (and all day) was pay off day candies (p. 381)

All from the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, which I looove!
If you order from THM, I'd so appreciate it if you used my THM affiliate link. :) 

In the homeschool room... 

the Landmark Books I ordered finally came yesterday, so today we jumped in where we are at in History and read chapter 9 (The British Take a Collision Course) and chapter 10 (Americans Declare Their Independence). We also finished the last five chapters of Toliver's Secret and read The Winter at Valley Forge. That takes us up through Week 8 or so in Core D&E. Malachi read The Journal of Willian Thomas Emerson: A Revolutionary War Patriot (from the Dear America series). 

We are rowing The Hatmaker's Sign... we did printmaking for art this week and each made a sign for our colonial shop. Tomorrow, we will start a project from the Heroes of History study guide for Ben Franklin. We are making a diorama (of sorts) of a home that Ben Franklin improved. 

We've also been rowing I Am an Artist. Today, Bo took apart the seed pods that we collected from a nature walk and counted the beans inside the pods. I'd like to do a nature study with the older kids on the tree they came from as soon as I figure what the tree is called. Earlier this week, we did an art project on texture. I think we should either make cloud cookies or do a whipped cream sensory tub for a fun edible tie-in. 

We also read Week 7 in Sonlight P4/5 and Bo finished his Developing the Early Learner (DEL) Book 1 (ahead of schedule) and we did lowercase j and k this week in All About Reading Pre-reading

Bo initiates school now, knowing that he needs to do his school before he can play chess on the iPad. In fact, he will even look at the logbook to see what he has to do now. :) Luke had him play in the 4th-5th grade tournament and he made it quite a ways before he was eliminated. Malachi and Eliana are both still in and play tomorrow to wrap up the tournament.   

I bought Bo a colorful abacus from Rainbow Resource and it arrived yesterday. He loves it so much! He carries it around with him, sets it beside him while he plays, and uses it frequently to count on. One time it had 98 and the next time it had 102. I showed him how to count by tens on it and that it always has 100. :) I need ideas on how to use it while he's still excited about it! 

We are plugging along nicely in all other subjects. 

A peek into one of my days...

a fro-yo date with Malachi. We loved the color-changing spoon. :) 

We shared so I could sneak a few bites - I loved the Mango Tango sorbet with Bottlecaps, but shhh. 

One of my favorite things...

School Photos 2015

Our Family - Fall 2015

Boaz, age 4 3/4 - Preschool/4K 

Eliana, age 8 1/2 - 3rd grade

Malachi, age 10 1/2 - 5th grade 

Dylan, age 15 years - 10th grade 

Nathan, almost 17 - 11th grade

Jordan, 19 1/2, Sophomore in College

Michelle ♥ Luke 

Photos taken in Big Fork, MT

2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum {3rd & 5th grade}

We are on our 6th week of the new school year. This week is our first full week of school and Monday was our first Monday of the school year. We had a very full day and didn't finish school until 4:00, but we did everything I "scheduled" in my logbook. Mondays and Wednesdays are our full days, Tuesdays and Thursdays are our light days (great days for projects), and Friday is a very light day for a few subjects, catch up, field trips, nature walks, and/or co-op. It's also my prep day, but I have to start tidying the house, do the shopping, and plan our meals on Thursday to get that part in if we plan to be outside the home that day.

It's taken me awhile to share what we are using this year because I didn't feel our line-up was complete. I have one box on the way and that will hopefully complete our homeschool line-up.

Here's what I am using for...

History with Eliana

I started Bigger this past spring and took a break from the history at unit 10 - I felt like something was missing. It was all going too fast and my little homeschool love tank wasn't getting filled. So, I ordered the read-alouds and readers from Sonlight as a supplement. I was missing the living history books - real books that make learning history fun! 

Since I have the Core D&E guide, I went ahead and ordered the Landmark History of the American People (2 volume set) to make the most of our time in American History. I originally avoided this core because I didn't love the old Landmark book when we did this core with the older boys, but the new books are supposed to be easier to read and are in color, so I'm anxious to see if that is true.

History with Malachi

Malachi continues to do well with Veritas Press Online Self-Paced History. He is currently working on Exploration to 1815. He uses the history cards daily, and I pulled out one of the most common resources (that I own) for him to use as a reference along with the program (which really is enough in itself). (My review of Veritas Online Self-Paced History).  He is also sitting in with us for our Sonlight read-alouds and is reading the D&E readers.

I'm a visual person, so I fell in love with the "Visual Dictionary" series when I first saw them, so we will read those for a visual of each time period. (I ordered these from Amazon - affiliate link).

I do plan to row a few FIAR books! 

The first one up is The Hatmaker's Sign from Volume 4. I may or may not row Paul Revere, but we will read it as a go-along for sure. 

Language Arts with Eliana

  • All About Spelling 3
  • All About Reading 3
  • BJU English 2
  • Italic C
All About Reading Level 3 Review
Why I love teaching with All About Spelling
All About Learning Press (Affiliate Link)

Language Arts with Malachi 

  • Italic C, then D
  • BJU English 4
  • All About Spelling 5
  • English From the Roots Up


I am going to relax and enjoy nature study with the children this year. Our Botany studies over the summer laid a nice foundation and Pocketful of Pinecones inspired me to use more of Ms. Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, so we will likely follow up with Lessons at Blackberry Inn. Science will likely include documentaries and books from the library on areas of interest. We will likely continue this through the winter and start something new in the spring. 

We are up to A Pioneer Sampler in Bigger science and will pick that back up when we catch up with the history. Excited for this one! 

(Links to Amazon are affiliate links.) 


We are using Math Lessons for a Living Education. Eliana will do Book 3. Malachi will finish Book 4 and Book 5 this year so I can start him on Life of Fred Fractions and Decimals & Percents next year for 6th.  

Homeschool Co-op

Eliana and Malachi took classes at our local co-op this quarter: art, chess, and music for both, and also sewing for Eliana. They both also played soccer and with such a busy first quarter, I'm really looking forward to settling into our school year. Slow won't come easy, but focusing on what's important will hopefully be easier. 

I may be interested in helping with a Wyoming History class next semester and/or a Science Fair or projects class. We'll see!

Next year

Here's my plan: I want to dig deep and enjoy one year of American History so we can start Prairie Primer in the spring or early summer. I've been wanting to do PP for a few years, but wanted to wait until Eliana was old enough to get the most out of it. I'm excited that we are so close! Malachi will continue with VP 1815 to Modern times during that time as well. I plan to do Young Explorers Human Anatomy and/or Nutrition 101 for Science to tie into Prairie Primer.

The future

After Prairie Primer, the plan is to do one year of Cultural & Physical Geography with MFW or North Star Geography (or both) or something entirely different (who knows what will come up by then) and tie in Five in a Row (by country) with Bo plus do Core A: Intro to World Cultures.

Then the plan is to start over with the history cycle - Cores G and H with Malachi and Eliana and Cores B&C with Bo, then Core 100 and Core D&E again!

Then I would love to do Where the Brook and the River Meet with Eliana. But, I'm getting way ahead of myself here. :)

I do plan to homeschool all three younger children through high school. While my two teen boys are loving public high school, it's on my heart to have them home again. I don't think it would be easy or even fun, but it would have to be their decision.

I am, however, preparing my heart (and theirs) for the long run with the younger kids. I especially need a hobby for Malachi. He plays soccer and chess, but needs some good boy hobbies until he is old enough to work. Luke just finished reading Created for Work to him (required reading in high school) and I'm anxious to keep his time filled with productive pursuits. We tried whittling and I recently bought him a metal detector and a tool for digging and will be looking for fun ways to use that. I even had the thought to find a way to move to our off-grid property to give him valuable work to do, but I'm afraid we'd be too isolated and the work too hard. It's easy to romanticize the Little House on the Prairie days, but it is hard work to live that way.

Wouldn't it be valuable work to teach the children, though? It was wonderful for teaching the older boys the value of work as they helped build the house, clear the land, and chop firewood. We are planning a trip next month to work (we need to replace firewood that was stolen), but it's hard to take the time and money to get up there regularly. Prairie Primer will be great for inspiring projects and I may sneak a survival course in there for Malachi (the sequel to Prepare and Pray) for more projects.

I almost included this in our line-up, but I took it out thinking it would be too much. Perhaps since I am slowing down, this would be a valuable tool to give Malachi some meaningful work to do.

Above all, I pray for God's guidance to do everything heartily as unto Him.
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