Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Art for the Guilty Mom

I have always felt guilty about art. I'm not a real drawer/sketcher/ painter, etc. And I don't like messes. But, I felt that if I didn't teach art and offer my children the time frame per week to pursue art, and do prepared art lessons, then I would be stifling their creativity and in turn, ruin their lives forever.

I know!

The guilt.

The shame.

Then I realized that if a child has a natural inclination toward art, they will find opportunities on their own to be artistic. Some may not draw or sketch, but that isn't all there is to art. For instance.....

Brittany pursued (on her own) jewelry making, crocheting and cake decorating.

Bethany and Brooke have learned sewing, and Brooke does sketching and painting on her own.

The boys like grabbing paper and sketching out fight scenes and samurai figures.

See? There are many ways to be "creative" and "artistic",

I'm breathing a sigh of relief! The pressure is off! My children will find ways to express their artsy and creative sides and I haven't ruined their lives after all!

Here are some pointers to becoming an art-guilt free home school mom!

  • Don't feel obligated to schedule it into the homeschool day. Let it be a "free-time" activity.
  • Have a supply of different media the children could use on their own. (Just make sure it's kept far, far, far out of reach of the 2 year old.)
  • Keep younger kids media options to a minimum. Unless you like messes.
  • If a child is very interested in a certain art form, chances are there are books, websites and video tutorials that they can learn on their own.
  • If a child shows exceptional skill in a certain area and wants to develop it further, consider lessons from an outside source or co-op.
  • Encourage them to pursue something new, but don't be pushy. Maybe your child isn't artsy or doesn't like messes either.
  • Embrace the classical arts instead! Look at art books (there are a lot geared toward children), listen to composers, collect art prints and visit art museums. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Musings: Favorite Child Edition

Travis (5): MOM! Can I have some more please! Some more of that chili perfection?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ozarks in the Fall

Last week I took a day trip with some friends to Northwest Arkansas. We went to several different craft fairs, one being at the War Eagle Mill. It was a great weekend to go-gorgeous weather and leaves starting to change. We were gone all day and probably could have been home three hours earlier if there wasn't so much traffic around Tontitown and Springdale. (Although it was a good excuse to stop for dinner at a Chinese buffet- so it all worked out well.) I bought some Amish jelly and a key chain that would go on my wrist for my small wallet. I didn't see anything that I just had to have, but I did see a lot of great stuff. I got a lot of ideas for decorating projects that I want to do, but not until we move to a different house. We also each chipped in a few dollars and got our pastor a wooden plaque that said, "A pastor's retirement plan is out of this world."

This is a picture of the War Eagle mill's wheel.

This is the lake with the wheel on the left.

The rickety covered bridge we had to drive across. The mill was on the right.

This was a brief stop just to take a picture and see this sign. We
didn't go down to this mill, but I want to come back and explore!

Sitting on the hill for lunch with the mill in the distance.

Me, Jen and Gail

Our pastor's wife wanted to go with us, but couldn't this year. She said, "Whatever happens in Arkansas stays in Arkansas."   Hmmmmm....... Well, there was that one time........

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nature Study for the Guilty Mom

"Nature Study" evokes pleasant visions of children armed with crisp art pads and watercolors, serenely gazing at the pond reflecting sunbeams on their perfectly coiffed hair. The baby sits happily on the fresh linen blanket while you admire how the children churn out beautiful picture after beautiful picture of the winged water fowl and it's elaborate beak structure.

The reality is that as you hurriedly rush out the door you realize that your two year old has eaten the watercolors, although they blend nicely with the leftover peanut butter on his shirt, the three year old has ripped half the pages out of the art pads and the seven year old can only find one of his shoes. The nine year old is whining because it is "SOOO HOT out here" and the eleven year old asks, "Do we have to do this?"

Can I get an "amen"?

Every year I would think, "THIS. THIS is the year that nature study will work for us. And every year it has fizzled out before it has even begun.

I had to let go of those perfect and quite unrealistic visions of what nature study would be for our family, and once that happened, things went a lot more smoothly.

I realized that nature study for us is best done on the fly.

Not on an actual bug, mind you, but unplanned and unprepared. I'm the type of person that has to have every little piece of information before I do something. So, I thought I needed every tree identification guide, every art tool and read every library book on something before we could go out and observe it. Talk about setting yourself up for failure.

Here are several things we've done over the few months or so that were learning, but weren't planned....

  • My son noticed a wood pecker in a tree in our front yard.
  • We watched the lunar eclipse.
  • A (creepy) spider made its home outside the window by my desk. We observed it for weeks.
  • We went to the zoo.
  • We noticed a squirrel storing away some nuts in our backyard.
  • We picked and cooked some vegetables from a friend's garden.
  • That same friend has chickens we observed.
  • Observed worms, bugs and various creatures that have been in and around our house.
  • The little kids looked at leaves changing for fall.
  • We looked at a pond and the plant and animal life that lives there.

All of that was learning. It was nature study. And it was no stress.

So, nature study for us may never be that perfect structured and researched outing with beautifully illustrated and diagrammed notebooks, but I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tulsa State Fair!

Some of the kids made things to enter into the fair again this year. Three of the kids wanted to do pumpkins. They just added in a preschool catagory, but pumpkins were not a choice on that one, so Travis made a "holiday decoration" instead.

Travis won 2nd place!

Bailey won 2nd place for her "ice princess" pumpkin!

Trace and Brennan in the kiddie car corral.

Brooke got a participation award for her "Jack Sparrow".

Tristan got a participation award for his "caramel apple".

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bible Study for the Homeschool

We've used a lot of resources over the years, and organized our days differently over the years. But what has worked for us the last few years has been to do Bible study together as a group with all the kids eighth grade and under on Friday mornings, while Monday through Thursdays the older kids do their own personal studies and the youngers do study with me. (Sometimes I've included the high school kids in that group, but it depends on what the dynamics are and if the older kids are working or have other things going on.) For the last three years, the "middle" kids have worked on their Awana books as their personal Bible study Monday-Thursday.

Here are some things I've done mostly with the younger kids, probably around 3rd grade and under...

Betty Luken's felt set

I got this on sale with a coupon at a local Christian book store. It took me a sweet forever to cut out all the pieces, so if I had it to do over again I think I would have just ordered the pre-cut pieces. :) The basic set comes with 182 pre-written stories and pieces to go with them.


These are less Bible "story and more "theology" based lessons. I will usually switch off and do one every other year.

Bible Story books

These are great to read any time and there are so many websites available with coloring sheets to go with just about any story. Some sites to print off sheets are here, here, and here.

Sorting the Bible Books

You can use a file folder with a big piece of card stock for each side labeled Old Testament and New Testament. Secure this on the top or sides with tape. (You can put a card stock cross in the middle. (This is the top of the diagram, and is the inside, not the cover.) Under your card stock OT and NT, you will make small fold-overs for each of the Bible categories- Law, History, Poetry, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, etc. If the kids are older I would let them write the Bible books under the flap for the appropriate category, but if they aren't writing well, then I would just type them on the computer and let them cut the lists out. If they want they can close the folder and decorate the outside.

These are things I have done with older and younger together.........

These are stories of people of the faith and missionaries. We've really enjoyed these. There are several different shorter stories on each person.

I picked these up at a discount bookstore maybe 15 years ago. They have great pictures with good background information on the location, history and culture of Biblical times. I don't have the complete set, maybe you can still find them all on Amazon? But, if not, you could probably find other similar books.

This has the potential to take up a lot of room, which we don't have, so I taped the timeline pages together and folded them accordian style so I could take it down and stash it away when we weren't using it.

This has been a lot of fun, and little kids are really good at sign language. I wish I could say my memory was as good, but it isn't. I have to practice something repeatedly to remember it and we didn't do this at all last year, so of course, I forgot everything. :(

Pilgrim's Progress

This very simplified version is really a kids' reader that I believe we were given second hand at some point. There are other versions and, also the original version, but I prefer something simplified for the younger kids. (We haven't done this, but it looks to be a good resource if you want to tackle the original. Or, maybe you would like to turn it into a unit study.)

These are are great for teaching about the lives of some missionaries and heroes of the faith. There are over a dozen stories with free printables under the kids' section. Also, the vidoes are available on Right Now Media, but before that I used to check them out from our library.

Songs and Fingerplays

Here is a great list from Calvary Kids.
Hand Signs for memorizing Scripture, also here and here.

Memory Work

Memory work is great for younger kids, because they are like sponges and will soak up scripture at amazing speeds. You can compile your own list to work on, but here is a good place to start.

Books of the Bible
10 Commandments
Romans Road 
Psalm 23
1 Corinthians 13 (Love is...)
Armor of God
Fruits of the Spirit
ABC verses, or other choices here and here.
52 Kid Friendly verses (maybe for the youngest kids)

Sword Drills

Here is a great list for drills.

Here is a great list for themes. Sometimes when there is a "theme" I won't tell the kids what it is. They have to guess after finding several scriptures.

You can also ask the kids different questions like "In what book/story would I find a story that includes a donkey?" or "In what book/story would I find a person named Jesse?"

Catechism Questions

Here is a list to give you an idea of what a catechism would ask. We got our copy from Abeka years ago. Just make sure the one you choose is in line with what you want to teach your children about Theology.

Character Traits

We have used different character trait resources in the past, but I just discovered these from Character First. There are 20 character traits that come with free resources, and of course you can purchase the entire set. The free resources have printables and videos you can watch with a poem, song and story. These are on the very conservative side. We've done three of them so far this year (Attentiveness, Availability and Compassion), and I like them.

ACTS Prayers 

A-doration: Giving some praise and admiration for God
C-onfession: What we have struggled with this week.
T-hanksgiving: What we are thankful for this week.
S-upplication: What we want to ask God for this week.

And for the high school aged kids..............


I recently came across this website that has printable worksheets for their survey courses. It's done by a Church of Christ, so make sure it's in line with your theology. I have my younger kids doing some of the elementary worksheets, but the adult would be adequate for high school. (The lessons seem to be pretty non-denominational so far as I have noticed.)

Theology and Doctrine

My husband put together a high school course with "Things that Become Sound Doctrine" by Dwight Pentecost for our kids.  I don't have any other examples of this, you would just have to find resources that fall in line with your theology.

SOAP and SOAK Studies


K-neeling in prayer

Basically your student can take a notebook and whatever passage of scripture they would like to choose for study. (Some of my younger kids have actually done this, also.)

Read Through The Bible

Here is a great list of plans from Bible Gateway, or here from RC Sproul ministries.

Map Work

This is a great source for charts and maps.

Other Studies

Greek Language Programs

Great Lives Series by Chuck Swindoll

Answers in Genesis  has a lot of information on creation vs. evolution. (They do have resources for kids of all ages.)

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis


Now, of course I wouldn't do all of these things everyday or even every year. Usually I choose a few things to do during the week, one for Fridays and I rotate things in and out every few years. For instance, if we read Pilgrim's Progress this year, then we probably won't do it again for several years.

Here is just an example of how I may schedule Bible:

Monday: Older/middle Awana or Survey work
                Younger Betty Luken's felt story and recite books of the Bible

Tuesday: Older/middle Awana or Survey work
                Younger Leading Littles to God lesson and recite books of the Bible

Wednesday: Older/Middle Awana or Survey work
                     Younger Betty Luken's felt story and recite books of the Bible

Thursday: Older/Middle Awana or Survey work
                 Younger Songs/fingerplays and recite books of the Bible

Friday: All kids together- practice signing John 3:16; read one chapter of Pilgrim's Progress and Acts

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Musings

Brennan (3): Mama I got clay in my hair. It was a ask-a-dent.

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