Tuesday, April 25, 2017

School Mornings

When we started homeschooling way back in 1988, I had just graduated with my master's degree in music education.  My oldest child was just in K4 so we took things pretty lightly then, doing some table time learning three days a week, playing lots of games and taking lots of field trips with our large support group in Ft. Worth, TX.

As our two older girls grew, I eventually incorporated our morning time routine which started with a Bible reading or pictorial devotional, Scripture memory, Bible songs and story time.  Our family continued to grow eventually to seven children with an age span of almost 25 years.  Our group time grew as the family grew and as we solidified our homeschooling goals for our children.

For the past 20 years or so, I've begun our school day by reading a chapter of Proverbs to coincide with the date.  If today is April 25th, we read Proverbs 25 and so on.  We also go over Scripture memory, read a chapter from Vos' The Child's Story Bible, read a chapter or two from our current read aloud and then have time for some extras such as poetry, hymn studies, Greek and Latin root review, logic, manners, or our unit study vocabulary words.  Each semester is different depending on how many children I have homeschooling and their grade levels.  Every one participates and the younger ones quietly draw, color pictures relating to our unit study, play with Legos or quiet puzzles.  I try to switch things up and incorporate some movement occasionally, especially on days our grandchildren join us for school.

After our group time we separate with the teens going to the dining room or their bedrooms for independent study and the younger school aged children join me at the school table for math and language.  Kindergarteners and preschoolers who happen to join us have time on the floor with fun learning activities placed on towels.  After 20-30 minutes I change their activities and give them time to move around.

Currently our senior daughter is finished with all her bookwork and is out of the house nannying a few days a week.  When she is home she joins us for our Proverbs reading and memory verse review and then heads off to do some chores or preparing her display for graduation.  On a normal day that leaves me with our two youngest sons ages 12 and 8.  This is somewhat bittersweet to me, but I'm looking forward to studying with them and encouraging them in their Bible and academic studies for the next several years.

Our current readings are from the following books:  the Bible, Vos' The Child's Story Bible, Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan for hymn study, You Come Too by Robert Frost for poetry study and Boys of Grit Who Never Gave Up from Lamplighter's Rare Collectors Series.

I keep a box or basket next to my chair in our den to keep our current books at hand and I also have the next books we will be reading through in there ready to start.

So, how does the beginning of your school day look?  What books are you currently sharing with your children?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tips for Homeschooling with the Littles

Reposting this from 2011:  My Caedmon is now an eight year old, but we have a two-year-old grandson with us every Monday.  It's time to start "school" with him.

Two Year Old "School"

What do you do with the little guys while you are teaching the older ones?
 I need to do some kind of learning activities with my toddler, but I have no idea what to do?

When you get busy teaching the older children it is often easy to overlook the educational needs of the little ones.  Yes, we make sure they are clean and fed, but some days it is easy to stick in a video or two for a couple of hours of peace while we teach the older children.   One way to make sure you are incorporating fun, entertaining and educational activities for your little ones is to make a plan.

Go through  your preschool toys and games and make a list of everything  you have that will make up a fun learning experience for your little one.  This is my current list of things my 27 month old son, Caedmon, can do by himself or with help.

1.  Lauri lace up animals
2.  a magnetic board with magnetic shapes of various colors
3.  Discovery Toys Giant Pegboard  for color sorting, stacking, counting or stringing....the back of it can be used as a pegboard with rubber bands
4.  bean bags tossed into a basket or bucket
5.  jumbo Cuisenaire rods
6.  Wee Sing tapes  (ok, I have cassettes--I have had preschoolers for over 20 years!!)
7.  board puzzles--Lauri, Melissa and Doug and Discovery Toys
8.  stickers and paper--I may draw a shape or a letter and have him place stickers to outline the drawing
9.  Color Wonder fingerpaint
10.  Color Wonder markers
11.  What's That Sound?--Discovery Toys listening lotto game
12.  attribute blocks- sort shapes, colors and sizes
13.  exercise CD or video
14.  make pictures with rice, dried beans, pasta or cornmeal
15.  tear construction paper and glue on other paper to make a collage
16.  Duplos
17.  Builders and Benders from Discovery Toys
18.  Little People
19.  Measure Up Cups (Discovery Toys) with a large pan of rice and a funnel
20.  play dough and cookie cutters
21.  large lace up beads from Melissa and Doug
22.  plastic nuts and bolts
23.  Trace and Place puzzles from Discovery Toys
24.  pattern blocks---match colors and shapes, make simple patterns, make designs
25.  small dry erase board and marker
26.  Melissa and Doug box shape sorter
27.  Melissa and Doug stacking blocks
28.  Melissa and Doug pegged shape sorter
29.  Mini Motors from Discovery Toys for sorting and playing
30.  file folder games from
31.  activity bags from
32.  books, books and more books!!
33.  Sounds Like Fun tape from Discovery Toys
34.  toy instruments from Melissa and Doug
35.  play food

As we do many of these activities we will be talking together about various things.  Naming objects, colors and shapes.  Sorting objects also can help teach counting.  Talk about same and different as you sort.  Opposites are fun to teach.  Caedmon is really funny these days as he makes a happy face and then a sad face as requested.  We sing or count as we roll a ball back to each other on the floor.

Children at this age also love to help with various chores.  There is a good bit they can help with if you take the time  to enjoy and encourage their efforts.  Caedmon loves to help load clothes in the washer or dryer.  He can also pick up toys and help vacuum.  A cleaning rag is great fun for him as he wipes down the fronts of kitchen appliances.  With a spray bottle of plain water and a cleaning rag he can clean a spill or a sticky spot in the floor.  With a damp rag he can dust low pieces of furniture.

When we were "poor" seminary students I borrowed several early learning resources from the library.  As I came across an idea that I thought would interest my children I copied it onto an index card.  I have a file box full of fun activities for early learning in all subject areas:  science, physical activities, language, crafts, etc.  Other resources that I have used in the last few years include Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander and The Preschool Primer:  101 Ideas for Learning and Doing.

Now that I have resources and a list of activities I am ready for the planning session.  I have a small plastic set of six drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for each of the five school days.  The extra drawer will contain quiet activities for family worship time.  I keep 4-5 activities in each drawer.   Many items on my list will not fit in the drawers, so I will tape the list to the wall next to my desk.  As I make out my lesson plans for the older children I can easily write down 2-3 activities from the list on my plans for Caedmon. I am hoping that being a little more organized with his activities will keep us all a little less frazzled and Caedmon a little more content.

If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  Do you have a terrific resource for the early preschool years?  How do  you incorporate your littles into  your school day?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Movies to Enhance Homeschooling

We love to add movies and documentaries to our homeschool.  From movies based on historical fiction to documentaries on history, science and geography topics to great film versions of our favorite British classic literature, we love them all.  And they add to our studies with very little effort on my part.

Jeff has been working with PureFlix in the past few years as he has served as producer for American Family Studios.  Recently I looked over what they had to offer and was impressed with the variety of their selections including many that would be useful in our homeschool like these for history and government or these for science and nature studies.  Take a look at what they have to offer and check into a trial membership!  There are also some freebies to check out.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Five Years Ago...Words Still Just as Sweet

I posted this exactly five years ago yesterday.  Words I need to hear all over again!

Getting Dressed

Last night during our family worship time, Jeff read to us from Colossians 3 and 4.  This verses from chapter three, though, really stood out to me.

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another;  even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body;  and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him.   Colossians 3:  12-17

As he was reading I could see each one of us getting dressed each morning and adding on each of these qualities layer upon layer.  How good and pleasant would it be if we could just go to our closets or drawers and physically PUT these qualities upon our bodies.  Oh, if it were as easy as that!!  Dressing ourselves each day with all of the following traits:

          -tender mercies
          -bearing with one another
          -forgiving one another
          -be thankful

Sounds almost impossible, doesn't it?  And it is!   It is only through Christ's righteousness that we can exhibit any of these qualities and even then it isn't always easy.  I fail. every. single. day.  At the end of a busy day of homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, errand running and child training it is so easy to think only of myself, to get tired of answering just one more question, of listening to one more piece on the piano, to hear the constant drumming, banging, snapping that one son MUST do (he has so much music and rhythm within him that it MUST come out!), one more dish to wash, one more load of laundry to fold....It's tiring and I snap, I fail.  But then I remember that even though I do struggle, I do not depend upon my own works for salvation.  I can rest on HIS righteousness and not my own weak self.  How wonderful and precious is that?

The following poem, written many, many years ago by Charitie Lees De Chenez is so special to me.  I cannot get through singing it at church without tears, but the third stanza is generally where I break down.  Yes, I will strive to clothe myself in all the qualities listed in Colossians 3, but will daily remember that Christ has paid it all and has clothed me, even me, with His righteousness.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest, whose Name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven in His hands.
My name is written on His heart;
I know that, while in heaven He stands.
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him, and pardon me.

Behold Him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself, I cannot die,
My soul is purchased by His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Saviour and my God.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter 2017

Our family continues to grow!  Pictured:  Kaelan, our 17 year old daughter who will graduate from our homeschool next month;  Devin with her husband, Justin and son Haddon; Lauren with her husband, James, and their five children Eli (in the green shirt), Chase, Ashtyn Claire, Carolina and Aidan;  our 12 year old son, Jackson, in the pink shirt and our 8 year old son Caedmon in the red shorts;  daughter-in-law, Anna with our son Jordan and their new baby, Andy; me, Jeff and our 20 year old son, Aaron, who will graduate with his associates degree in accounting next month.

Our busy times seem to be even busier these days!!   Lauren is expecting twins very soon and has been on bed rest for the past three weeks.  We've had her children for about 12 of those days and doing school with them as well as our two youngest boys.  Kaelan has almost finished all of her required work for her senior year.  I need to catch up in checking it and she has two series of DVDs to watch for science and history and a couple of papers to write before being officially finished.  She will begin the prerequisites for nursing school this fall.

We were blessed with an unexpected visitor this Easter weekend.  A young woman was traveling by bicycle from Michigan to San Antonio, TX.  She stopped in Tupelo and went to the Good Friday services at our church Friday evening.  I introduced myself to her and discovered she was the oldest of ten children and was also homeschooled.  She stayed with us Friday evening and then Kaelan and Jeff drove her to her next starting point late Saturday morning.  Easter afternoon she called, having run into some trouble.  We were able to get her some immediate help and then pick her up for another night/morning at our home.  Due to an old knee injury, she has opted to continue her trip in a rental vehicle.  She was quite disappointed not to finish as she started, but was determined to get to the Alamo regardless.  A real-life lesson for our KONOS unit study on diligence and determination.  We are thankful to the Lord for putting all the details in place so that we could serve her in a time of need.

Hope you all have a great week!  I'll try to update more about the past four years in our lives.  We have had some major happenings, but God has blessed us greatly through them all.  Now, back to the books for me!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Why We Do What We Do

This is a repost from May 2011, but it still holds true.  Now we are at the end of our 28th year of homeschooling and graduating our fifth child in May.   That will leave us with two children homeschooling...we have 10 years left!

Deuteronomy 6:  4-9  

Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Many, many years ago Jeff and I were traveling I-20 from Mississippi to Texas on our way to visit Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to determine whether or not Jeff would continue his music and ministerial training there.  As we were traveling we listened to Christian radio and heard Marlin Maddox interview Raymond and Dorothy Moore.  They were discussing homeschooling that day.  Jeff and I already had one child at this point and we were intrigued with the idea of homeschooling.  Jeff asked me to write down the Moore's name and we decided then that if it were ever possible for us that we would like to homeschool.  At that time, however, it didn't seem probable as Jeff would soon be enrolling as a full- time seminary student.  In the next couple of years, I completed my master's degree in music education and we added a second child to our family.  When baby number two was just 6 weeks old we packed up and moved to Ft. Worth, TX.

Prior to moving to Texas I made various phone calls and sent letters and applications to the school systems in and surrounding the Ft. Worth, TX area.  Apparently, no one needed  a newly graduated master's level music teacher who was certified K-12.  After arriving in Ft. Worth, we began searching more thoroughly.  We also remembered that interview with the Moore's that we had heard two years earlier.  The desire had never really left our hearts, so we prayed that IF the Lord wanted us to begin homeschooling our four year old that He would close all the doors of employment for me.  And He did!  I had two opportunities open up for me.  One was teaching music in a K-2 day school.  The other was teaching in a day care.  Having heard and read the financial teachings of Larry Burkett, we knew to carefully consider the costs of mom being away from home.  After crunching the numbers we quickly realized that child care, a teaching wardrobe, travel, and convenience foods would demand all of the income and more.  What a blessing to see God's hand revealed!  Thus, we began our homeschooling journey.  Jeff did continue his full-time seminary training and, at times, worked 3-4 jobs as well.  He did well in his studies and even  received a few honors along the way.

God provided all we needed and so much more in those early years and I can say the same for today.  There have been days that have been extremely frustrating as I have tried to teach my children and there have been days that have been extremely rewarding as well.   There has only been one period in our homeschooling life that I have felt so discouraged that I could have sent the children off to school, but thankfully, I can see now that it was during a season of post-partum depression and God somehow sustained us all through that.  Homeschooling is never easy.  I really am convinced that you MUST take the command in Deuteronomy 6 to heart if you are to succeed.  Diligently teaching God's Word as you sit in your house, as  you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up seems to be a 24 hour a day job.  Yes, it can be exhausting but God has a precious promise for us in Galatians 6: 9.  "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

Being with your children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week has to be one of the most humbling and sanctifying positions to be in.  My children see me for what I am....and I have to admit on some days what I am is not pretty.  The faults that I try to correct in my children are faults that they have learned from me.  How can I correct them when I continue to fail in the same areas?  Yes, God uses homeschooling to sanctify parents and especially moms who spend so much of their days working with and teaching their children.

Our homeschooling days are not always those days that bring tears of joy to my eyes as a child finally grasps a new concept or we have an extra special moment sharing the wonder of God's Creation.  There are many days that tears of frustration come as personalities clash, attitudes must be dealt with or a concept just seems too hard to learn.  There are times that LIFE gets so busy that the books need to be put aside for a time so that the life lessons can be learned.  Educating our children is definitely not limited to what we study from a book.  Some of the most important lessons come from what God is teaching us as we learn to live together.

Why do we home educate our children?  Because we truly feel that God called us to do so 23 years ago and unless He tells us otherwise we will continue on this course for another 17 years.  Why am I sharing this today?  I think it is because I needed to be reminded!  It is so very easy for me to get frustrated when LIFE prevents me from spending time working on MY lesson plans.  I need to remember that God's plans are always more important than anything I can plan.  Learning to graciously handle interruptions and little twists in our day will, in the long run, be much more helpful to my children than learning the details of the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, the greenhouse effect or unit multipliers.  And, I share because I hope to encourage someone else out there who might be struggling today as well.

 1 Thessalonians 5: 11  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Grandchildren and More


Jeff and I with Lauren's five children: in Jeff's lap is Aidan followed by Eli, Carolina, Chase and Ashtyn Claire; in my lap is Devin's son, Haddon.  Not pictured is Devin's step-son, Joseph. 

 Lauren's husband was sick the day we took these pictures and didn't join us.  Lauren is expecting twins, a boy and a girl, in May.  We are still in shock!

When I last posted, Devin and Justin had just gotten married...way back in November of 2012!

Jordan married Anna in December of 2015.  Anna has been a friend of our family since she was 5 years old!  She and Jordan are expecting their first son, Andrew Scott, in just a couple of weeks.

We are so very thankful for the new additions to our family!  God has blessed us with great children, sons-and daughter-in-law and wonderful grandchildren.  We are excited to see how God works in our family as we continue to grow.

We're Back

I can't believe it's been over four years since I've posted here at Busy Hands Busy Minds.  There have been many changes within our family...mainly the additions of more grandchildren and a daughter-in-law.  We now have 7 grandchildren and three married children.  Three more grandchildren are due this spring...a first child for our oldest son and twins for our oldest daughter.

I hope to get back here much more frequently to share what we are learning in our homeschool, kitchen and in life.  God has been so good to us!  I'll be updating the sidebar information in the next day or two and hope to have another post to update you all on the past four years.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

How many of you have already planned out your Thanksgiving menu?  Are you taking advantage of great sales prices to stock up.  Butter, cream cheese, turkey, ham, and cranberries are just a few of the items I have been finding at great prices right now.

This year my oldest daughter, Lauren, has decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at her home.  They also live out in the country and have a nice lake just out their back yard.  I'm sure some canoeing and shooting will be going on as well as eating lots of good food and chasing little ones.  I am so thankful that both of my married daughters live close enough for easy visits and we can still be together for one of our favorite holidays.

Our Thanksgiving menu rarely changes through the years.  I'll be baking a turkey and ham, a sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and a dessert that my food allergic boys can eat.  Devin will be making our sweet and sour beans and another dessert.  Lauren is going to try her hand at dressing this year.  She called yesterday wanting the recipe.  Does anyone really use a recipe?  Years spent watching my mamaw and my mama make dressing and being the taste-tester taught me how to make it.  I made a few changes here and there, but we love our dressing.  She'll have to get experience and make it her own.  She also mentioned a caramel apple cheesecake.  Oh, my!!  Grandmother will be bringing rolls and our traditional cranberry/apple casserole.  Here is a link to some of our favorite holiday recipes.  I would love for you to share some of yours with us!!

Chocolate chess pies, blueberry cream cheese pies, sweet and sour beans and cranberry apple casserole recipes are here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Menu for November 11-17

A little late, I know!!  I'm trying to reduce some of our meat consumption on a daily basis while adding in more vegetable dinners.  Some of my guys are not liking the changes....and I am not surprised.  I suppose I have been changing things up a lot with our foods, but for years I have cooked almost two seperate meals at times trying to make sure my food allergy kids had plenty to choose from.  Now I pretty much cook one main dish that all can eat and fill in with sides.  That means most of our dishes no longer have any dairy, egg or wheat products.  We still consume dairy and egg, but not in our main dishes for the most part.

Breakfasts this week are baked oatmeals (I do make two with no dairy or egg and one with)...this morning's has some blueberries added in.  GF DF EF pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs and grits.

Lunches are leftovers or soups....beef stew, French onion soup, potato soup, chicken soup.


Sunday-after our small group book study we headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant

Monday-lentil rice casserole, roasted root veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, rutabaga and turnips), roasted red potatoes and onions, green beans and turnip greens

Tuesday-white bean chicken chili with tortilla chips and salad  (making a few variations with the recipe...using a whole shredded chicken, dry beans and homecanned chicken stock)

Wednesday-ground beef hash and green beans

Thursday-stir fry beef and broccoli with rice, egg drop soup

Friday-homemade pizzas and salad

Saturday-chicken pot pie, English peas and salad

Sunday-pinto beans topped with chopped onions, shredded cheese and sour cream, corn cakes and salad
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