Do you have kids who stress out and hate pressure? I sure do. My husband and I both LOVED flashcards as kids. My mom would drill us at home constantly & I remember enjoying every second of playing round-the-world in elementary school. Maybe because I’m competitive, love a challenge, being on “stage”, and have always been quick at math facts. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, that game probably wasn’t very fun for the majority of the class. But I digress. My children loathe flashcards. It is their absolute least favorite thing to do. So what’s a math drilling momma to do? Figure out a game that gets in the same practice, without the “pressure”. Clearly we need some character lessons on what real struggles and pressure look like, but sometimes, I just want to get the stinking math in any way I can. Enter Forehead Math Master. Continue reading

# Fourth of July Flag Bean Dip

Independence Day is coming this weekend! Break out your stars and stripes, fireworks and booze! Because we’re celebrating “Merica”! Whip up this festive bean dip and you’ll be the hero of the day!

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# Pit Stop Popsicle Shop

One of my greatest struggles is giving my kids the latitude to explore their own ideas…but I know it’s really beneficial for them to go from concept to reality. The process of questioning them, prodding them, and convincing them to think deeper about their ideas is exhausting. It’s so much easier to just tell them what to do, but I know helping them process their thoughts in a logical manner will translate into learning anything well. Last summer, they had a “brilliant idea” to earn money. They would collect sticks from around the neighborhood and then sell bundles of them for \$20 each. Genius right? They were highly disappointed when folks weren’t eagerly flocking to the stick stand. I took this opportunity to teach them the beautiful concept of supply and demand as well as some basic capitalistic principles.

First, I questioned them about what they get excited to buy when it’s hot out (as it was that week). I asked if sticks were helpful or useful, if \$20 was a fair price that others would pay. I suggested selling something they personally would love, and for a price they’d be willing to pay. My munchkins put their heads together, and thus the Pit Stop Popsicle Shop adventure was born. Continue reading

# Causing a Riot With Rhythm

Every single occasion I listen to this piece, I feel myself steadily descending into madness. One errant note at a time, I’m swirling into a crazed world of instruments playing out of range, rhythms that don’t make any logical sense, and seemingly no control whatsoever. Stravinsky has been called a genius. He is the father of modern music, and this piece is hugely important in breaking long-held “rules” of rhythm and instrumentality, but it also is a little nuts. So crazy in fact, it caused an actual riot when it was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1913. Gird your loins people. This piece is a wild ride.

# A Little Mud Never Hurt Anyone

In fact, muddy dirty play is incredibly good for you. According to research, playing outside in the grime and muck has health benefits for your heart, skin and immune system. Plus, studies show enjoying a good clean (dirty) day in the dirt increases happiness, reduces stress and enhances learning. Really. Here’s some reasons to encourage you to back away from the hand sanitizer, laundry soap and hand towels, and embrace the gloriously goopy joy of nature’s immune-system-builder extraordinaire.

# Why Should You Read Aloud to Your Children?

I’m a huge proponent of reading aloud. I read an article recently that expertly explained the benefits of reading to your children, far beyond the point they can read to themselves. Indeed, even through high school.

“In conversation, we tend to use verbal shorthand, not full sentences. But the language in books is very rich, and in books there are complete sentences. In books, newspapers, and magazines, the language is more complicated, more sophisticated. A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words.”

When children are young, they are exposed to language exceeding their own reading level by being read to. This introduction to complex expression of thought equips them in a way reading to themselves cannot. Continue reading

# Science Observation: Owl Pellets

If you are easily grossed out, I’d recommend finding some other reading material for today. You can come back next post. I won’t judge. My daughter’s math book recently had a reference to owl pellets, which, she’d never heard of (I know…I’ve completely failed as a parent educator). So of course, relieve my guilt, and satisfy her curiosity, I put together a little pellet party. What can I say? I’m a nerd to the core. Continue reading

# Devotional – If I Have to, She Should Too

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” – Luke 10:40

Jesus’ response of “Martha, Martha” is incredibly well-known and oft quoted, but I’m always fascinated by Martha’s initial complaint. Her demand that Jesus require Mary to pull her weight. How many people in the Bible feel justified to boss around the Son of God? To lay a guilt trip at the feet of the Lord and think it’s going to work? I mean really. Continue reading

# Nature Sketchbook

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
― Isaac Newton

There is truth and beauty surrounding us in nature if we only take the time to observe it. The pace of life often leaves us in a whirlwind of schedules, appointments, errands and meetings, leaving little room for scrutiny and delight of the magnificent world encircling us. Continue reading

# Finding North Carolina

The hilarity of homeschooling never ceases to tickle my funny bone and drive me to a deeper walk with the Lord. When we memorized our states and capitals earlier this year, I made some copywork and maps for the kids to practice on. My son’s assignment this particular morning was to color in the 5 states we were working on, and trace/write each state and capital on the lines below his unlabeled map.

He was doing fine until he arrived at North Carolina. He simply could not remember where it was. So, I told him to look for the state on our large (labeled) wall map and showed him the general area to focus his search.