Power Word Resolutions

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UntitledI have never been good at making and keeping New Year resolutions. However, I do enjoy spending some time reflecting on the previous year, and almost always feel the need to make resolutions- most of which are unrealistic or unattainable for some reason. Therefore, I set myself (and by extension my family) up for failure before the New Year ever starts. So for 2018, I decided I needed to do something different. I read this fantastic article about ditching traditional task orientated resolutions and instead choosing a power word/phrase. Roy Cohen, a career coach and author, explains the difference in the article, “Resolutions feel like an enormous burden and are a guilty reminder when we occasionally fall off the wagon. When they are grand gestures, they are likely to be a challenge to keep. On the other hand, a single word evokes a state of mind. It is the equivalent of a mantra with the intention of focusing on key themes that motivate us.”

After some reflection, I decided that it would be best to look at individual sections of my life and pick multiple power words. So, with that in mind, I decided to pick power words for the following: Homeschooling, Family Life, Marriage, Homemaking, Writing, and Spirituality.

HOMESCHOOLING: I currently homeschool my three oldest children, and we are in our 5th year of homeschooling. You would think that at this point I would have schooling down to a science. However, the truth is homeschooling is an ever-evolving thing. This past fall, I had grand visions of an organized planned out classical education. I love the ideas behind a classical education, and in the past, we have tried it. Foolishly, I decided to try it again…forgetting that while I love the idea of a classical education, my children don’t like the idea or fit it well. My kids do much better with a hands-on unschooling approach. So, as the new year starts, we are returning to what I know works for us. Formal schooling in reading and math only and unschooling everything else. So the power word for homeschooling in 2018 is going to be APPRECIATE. I am going to focus on appreciating who my kids are. I am going to stick with the approach that works for us. I am not going to try and force my kids to conform to educational principals that don’t work for them. I am going to appreciate that they are individuals and let them learn how they learn. I believe by focusing on the word APPRECIATE that our homeschooling in 2018 will be more successful and enjoyable for everyone.

FAMILY LIFE: As a stay at home mom and wife, my family is my top priority. I love being a stay at home, mom/wife. Nothing makes me happier than spending quality time with my family. However, let’s be honest, family life isn’t always roses and sunshine. Sometimes, it is downright awful- kids misbehave, spouses have bad days, etcetera. It can be easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, to lose your focus and feel stagnate as a family- to forget to find the joy in the mundane. This is why our family is going to have two power word for 2018 that go together- SEEK ENJOYMENT. As a family, I want us to find joy in all parts of our family life. I want us to enjoy spending time with each other whether we are doing something exciting like going to the Lego Discovery Center in Atlanta, GA or having a simple movie night at home. I want us to have a vibrant and active family life. I want my kids to look back on their childhoods and smile from memories.

MARRIAGE: In December, Mark and I attended my childhood best friend’s wedding. It was three nights and four days of just us because the wedding was kid free. My aunt kept the boys for us. It is the first real trip, Mark and I have ever taken without our children. Mark and I had a fantastic time together and got to reconnect together as a couple. I want to capitalize on the reconnecting we did on the trip. So, with that in mind, the power word I have chosen is RECONNECT. We will focus on reconnecting as a couple- making it a priority to spend quality times together and doing little things for each other. I am also wanting to make date nights out a thing that happens regularly, now that my kids are finally old enough that I feel comfortable leaving them with a babysitter, something I have struggled with in the past. My aunt has also offered to take the kids again this summer so that Mark and I can make another trip just the two of us.

HOMEMAKING: My power word for this section of my life is DELEGATE. I am not good at delegating. I tend to do everything on my own. For years that was okay, but now with my medical issues, I no longer have the physical stamina to take care/keep the house all on my own. I know that I am doing my boys (or my future daughter-in-laws!) any favors by not making sure they know how to do necessary household chores. With all of that in mind, I am working on delegating household chores and expecting them to help out around the house. I am also giving each of the boys their own chores. Over the past month, as a family, we have worked on deep cleaning individual rooms of the house. Now that these rooms are clean, the goal is to keep them maintained by tidying daily so that the house is always tidy and not continually falling into messy chaos. My biggest hope with delegating and involving everyone in the housework is that when I am knocked out of commission by pain flares that the house won’t fall apart without me.

WRITING: DILIGENT is my power word choice. Now that I have finished my degree, I have time to devote to my writing. I am currently working on a novel. My goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of August. To meet this goal, I have to be diligent and write daily. I have to power through writer blocks and make writing a priority.

SPIRITUALITY: 2017 was a hard year spirituality-wise. I ended up having a crisis of faith due to my medical issues. While I did not doubt God’s existence, I struggled to find the point to believe in him- to pray and attend Mass. I questioned his love for me because of the crosses I have been given in the form of chronic pain. I felt that God was punishing me for the sins of my parents. It seemed pointless and hopeless to have a spiritual life. That crisis of faith touched my whole family, and we stopped praying together very often and by the end of the year, we were rarely attending Mass. I don’t want that for my family. I want to have an abundant spiritual life- both as an individual, as part of a couple, and as part of a family. With that in mind, I picked two power words for the category of spirituality, and they are FIND and EMBRACE. I want to find my faith again and embrace it. I want to bring spirituality and faith back into my marriage and our family life.

As January comes to an end, I am happy to say that 2018 is off to a good start. Power words are working much better than task orientated goals. I am looking forward to how the words APPRECIATE, SEEK ENJOYMENT, RECONNECT, DELEGATE, DILIGENT, FIND, and EMBRACE are going to enhance my life and the lives of my family this year. Did you make any New Year resolutions or did you pick a word as I did? What did you choose to do and how is the first month going for you and yours?

Intentional Motherhood

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Earlier this month, I attended the wedding of my childhood best friend. We’ve been friends since we were in first grade. She might as well be my sister after we have been through as friends. I was honored to be a member of her bridal party. The wedding was a child-free event, so my husband and I left all four of our boys with my aunt for the four days and took our first real childless trip. I have never been away from my children longer than one to one and a half days. Almost all the occasions that I have been away from my boys have been hospital stays- such as when I had my spinal fusion, and Mark always brought the boys to see me. So I had pretty much had never been away from my children. However, the boys did fantastically, even our youngest William, who is three did great. I honestly was worried about how he would do because he doesn’t like me going to the store without him. Mark and I had a wonderful time. We had the chance to reconnect as a couple outside of our identity as parents. The wedding was wonderful. I had the opportunity to see tons of old friends, who I haven’t seen since I graduated high school.

Interestingly enough, I was pretty much the only mother there in my age group. Of the bridal party, there was only one other mom. The majority of the bridal party, the bride, and most of the friends of the bride and groom had no children. I knew this when I was preparing for the wedding, and it caused me to have what I can only call an identity crisis.

Up until the weeks leading up to the wedding, I have never felt bad about being a stay at home mom. For as long as I can remember I had wanted to be a stay at home mom, even when I was a kid myself I knew that ultimately I wanted to have a family. I got married young. We started our family right away. We chose to have a larger than average family. We decided as a couple that I would be a stay at home mom- a homeschooling one at that. Never once have I felt ashamed of that choice or inadequate for being nothing more than a stay at home mom, until I was preparing for my friend’s wedding.

All of a sudden, it didn’t feel like my choice to be a mom was enough. I was about to spend four days with six women, who all worked outside the home. Two of them are nurses. One runs a non-profit. One was a teacher, up until she had her son a year ago. One has traveled the world as a dancer and is now pursuing a career on Broadway. The last one works at the university in our hometown. All these women are doing great things. They are out contributing to society. As I was packing for the trip, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything worthwhile like they are. I don’t bring any income into the home. Some might even say I squandered away my intelligence and college degree. All of a sudden, I wanted to be doing more than just being a stay at home mom. Except, did I want to be doing more or did I merely feel like I should be doing more because of societal standards? I agonized over my clothing choices, not wanting my clothes to shout that I was just a mom. I fretted over what topics I was going to converse about with the other guests.

I spent time post-wedding reflecting on being a stay at home mom versus working outside of the home. Somewhere along the drive home from D.C., I had an epiphany concerning myself and motherhood. I have nothing to be ashamed of. The jobs of the other bridesmaids are no more important than my role as a mother. I am not saying their careers are unimportant; instead, I believe all our jobs are valuable. My children are important; they help to ensure the continuation of society. If I am happy being a mother, why should I feel ashamed? The answer is I shouldn’t. Motherhood isn’t something I accidentally fell into. It isn’t something I chose because I had no other options. I decided it because I wanted to be a mom. For me, there is fulfillment in being a stay at home mom and raising children. I have sacrificed my health to have my children. Each day, I choose to get up and be a hands-on mommy, despite my chronic pain. I force myself to go beyond my pain and be present for my kids. Being a stay at home mother is a worthy choice. It can be easy to fall into the trap of society that tells us motherhood, especially stay at home mothers, have no value. However, this is false. Motherhood is beautiful. My intentional motherhood is a beautiful and valuable thing. It is my life. These photos are a glimpse into what deliberate motherhood looks like in my family. Are you a stay at home mom? Have you ever been made to feel inadequate for being just a stay at home mom? What helps you to remember that your job as a stay at home mother is important and just as valuable as careers outside the home?

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Reclaiming Joy

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Advent and Christmas are my favorite time of the year, or it used to be. Three years ago, my father died on December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas. It was my favorite celebration in the season of Advent, marking the start of the Advent/Christmas season in my home. We always celebrated the feast day in style. St. Nicholas would come to visit the night of December 5th. He filled Christmas stockings for the children to find in the morning. Over the course of the day, we would read books about St. Nicholas, watch movies about him, talk about him, do activities, and spend time in prayer. In the evening, we would have company come over to share a meal with us. I would prepare a big feast with traditional Dutch foods such as Runderlappen. It was always a beautiful day.

That was until my father died. I received the call that he had passed in the wee hours on the morning of December 6, 2014. He was battling terminal lung cancer and had entered hospice care the previous day. However, I never imaged he would pass so quickly. We didn’t celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day that year. The boys received their stockings, only because they had already been laid out the night before. I spent the day laying in bed, alternating between crying and sleeping. Mark canceled dinner.

For the next two years, we didn’t celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas beyond stockings. I just didn’t have it in me. 2016 was terrible, I had one of the worse chronic pain flares of my life, and ended up in the ER. After that, I mostly gave up celebrating. I was furious with my dad for having the audacity to die on one of my favorite saint’s feast day. (Which I know is unreasonable on my part.) I didn’t know how I would ever reclaim the joy of St. Nicholas Day.

This year my oldest two sons’ expressed that they missed our St. Nicholas celebrations. They wanted more than just stockings. I had no clue how I was going to pull off a happy day of fun. How do you reclaim joy from death? Losing my father devastated me, I had no clue how I was supposed to come back from that.

However, somehow I had to find a way. I turned to prayer. I spent the two weeks from Thanksgiving to December 6, praying. I prayed for joy. I prayed for the ability to live in the moment. As an insurance policy, I called some friends and invited them to dinner, knowing I would feel bad if I canceled. I may have also done a little retail therapy in preparation for the day. Stockings sort of overflowed this year.

stockingsHowever, I did manage to pull off our traditional St. Nicholas Day celebration, for the first time since my father died. We read several books about him, including a new one. We watched the CCC of America movie, Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa. (All their titles are amazing, and I highly recommend them.) We spent time in prayer and talking about everything we had to be grateful for. Lastly, I cooked a terrific meal of twice baked potatoes, Runderlappen, corn, salad, and rolls. Our friends brought Speculatius cookies. Everyone ate and laughed. The children played. The adults visited. At the end of the night, as I was tucking in my oldest son he told me, “Mommy, I am so glad we celebrated like we use too. Thank you for putting aside your sadness to be my mommy and make the celebration happen,” those words cemented the joy I worked so hard to reclaim. It will help ensure that I can find joy year after year on December 6th. I will always mourn my dad, but now I know I can miss him and still celebrate St. Nicholas Day with my family.

Here is a list of some of our very favorite books about St. Nicholas.

If you want to learn more about St. Nicholas and how to celebrate his feast day check out the St. Nicholas Center.

Top 20 Board Books

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With the impending move into the RV later this month we had to downsize drastically. Everything from kitchen stuff to toys had to be downsized. I had to go through all of our books and decided which ones we were keeping and what we were donating. As homeschoolers books are super important in our house. We go to the library on an almost weekly basis. We read for several hours most days. It was pretty easy to downsizes the older kid books and chose what to keep.

However, it was much harder to downsizes the board book collection. I am not a big fan of checking out board books from the library; mostly because of a germ factor. Knowing that babies and toddlers like to slobber and chew on the books I just prefer to have our own books that I know only my kids mouths have been on! Given that I read these books to our baby on a daily basis I wanted to have good reading worthy books; not silly dull “this is green” “this is red” type books. Sure, having a few books like that are nice to teach colors, etc but I would much rather a good story! So, without further ado here is the 20 books that made the cut.

  1. So Many Bunnies Board Book: A Bedtime ABC and Counting Book by Rick Walton
  2. Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton
  3. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
  4. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr
  5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr
  6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  7. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
  8. The Mitten by Jan Brett
  9. Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  10. Over There by Dorinda Silver Williams  (we have the daddy version)
  11. My Very First Bible Stories Our Father by Lois Rock
  12. How Much Is That Doggie in the Window by Iza Trapani
  13. The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  14. Usborne’s That’s not My Snowman (Touchy-feely book)
  15. Little Big Flaps Dinosaurs by Charles Reasoner
  16. The Saving Name of God the Son by Jean Ann Sharpe
  17. Santa’s Prayer by Mary Lou Andes
  18. The Saints Are Watching Over Me by Tiny Saints (This is actually a Christmas present!)
  19. Baby Einstein’s First Words by Disney book group
  20. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury

When picking out books I wanted to meet several different criteria. For example I wanted several interactive type books. So, we kept one touch-in-feel book and one lift the flaps book. I kept Over There by Dorinda Silver Williams because it was an invaluable book when my husband was deployed. We read it multiple times a day. It isn’t in print anymore and I didn’t want to worry about having to replace it if my husband deploys again while William is a little guy.  I kept Baby Einstein’s First Words not because it’s a great literature but it’s been invaluable in helping Antonio work on his speech.



Ancient Rome Book List

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Our first history unit this year is Ancient Rome. My sons really enjoyed Ancient Egypt; so they wanted to learn about other ancient civilizations. As usually our books are borrowed from the library. Here is our book list.

- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Roman Gladiator by John Malam
-Gladiators and the Story of the Colosseum by Dr. Nicholas Saunders
-Sightseers Essential Travel Guides to the Past Ancient Rome by Jonathan Stroud
You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Roman Soldier by David Stewart
- Fierce Fighters Gladiators and Roman Soldiers by Charlotte Guillain (This is an early reader)
100 Things You Should Know About Ancient Rome by Fiona Macdonald
Metropolis Roman Town by Hazel Martell and Mark Bergin
How Would You Survive as an Ancient Roman by Anita Ganeri
Terrible Tales of Ancient Rome by Clare Hibbert

Leaving Baby Season

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For eight years we’ve been in baby season. For eight years I’ve either been pregnant or had a baby in my arms. Like clock work every time the baby in my arms became a toddler we would decide to try for another. God blessed us with being able to easily conceive. However, I didn’t do well pregnant. Pregnancy wasn’t kind to my body. I wasn’t one of those women; who loved being pregnant. Frankly; I hated pregnancy but I loved the end result. The end result was worth all the pain and misery pregnancy brought. I loved the ending so much we had 4.

The fourth coming after a spinal fusion and he is our last. My poor back can’t do another pregnancy. Another pregnancy has a high potential to put me in a wheelchair and put my pain to a point were pain management can no longer help me. The thought that he is our last makes me sad but it isn’t the devastating sadness I felt when the surgeon told me I couldn’t have William. It’s more of a fond sadness. A wistful sadness that I won’t ever hold my brand new baby and fall head over heels in love with another being. A love so strong that it’s all consuming. That I won’t ever get to see my husband hold his new child for the first time radiating love. That I won’t ever see my sons light up with joy when they meet their new sibling.

In 9 days I will be having a hysterectomy out of medical necessity. The surgery is final. It says with a decisiveness that we are leaving baby season. That our time here in this season of new life is up. That we must move on. Move on we will.  It opens up new adventures for us to take. So, while there might be some sadness that this season is coming to a close there is also a sense of excitement for our new adventure.

As we prepare to move on I am left with a handful of wishful thinking items that I am unsure of what to do with. Things I held onto with the intention that one day I would give them to my daughter or daughters. However, there will be no daughter. Despite my prayers (and Paul’s prayers) God did not bless Mark and I with a daughter. I wouldn’t trade any of my boys for a daughter but I do wish there had been a fifth baby that was a girl. Yet, for reasons I do not understand God wanted me to be a mom to only boys. I think the lack of a mother-daughter relationship is what makes having a hysterectomy most difficult for me. Knowing that now there really is no chance that we will ever have a daughter. There are things and experiences within a mother-daughter relationship that just doesn’t exist in a mother-son relationship.

There is a part of me that mourns the loss of that potential daughter so strongly that I want to throw caution to the wind. I want to cancel the hysterectomy and roll the dice and get pregnant again. I want to roll the dice and say who cares if I end up in a wheelchair. So, what if my pain gets to a point that pain management can’t help me anymore. The pain; the loss of being able to walk would all be worth it if it meant that I could have a daughter. If it meant I could give Paul the baby sister he so desperately wants and still asks for on occasion. But, I can’t do that. It’d be the height of folly and would make me a terrible mother and wife. I can’t be that selfish. Mark deserves a wife that isn’t in a wheelchair in agonizing pain. My boys deserve a mother; who can be a mom. That potential daughter deserves a mother; who can be a mom. To try and have a daughter means I give up the ability to be a good mom and wife and I can’t be that selfish.

So, instead I prepare for a hysterectomy. I prepare by snuggling with William and breathing in his sweet baby scent; knowing that I won’t be able to call him baby much longer. He is one and before I know it he will be a totally independent toddler. I prepare by getting rid of the baby items as he out grows them. Donating them; so that they may bless other families. Lastly, I prepare by carefully boxing up the dreams that were for Alexis. It’s time to say goodbye not only to baby season but also to Alexis; for she will never be.

Ancient Egypt Booklist and Activities

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We finished off our first grade year with a unit on Ancient Egypt. We spent about 3 months really diving into Ancient Egypt. Paul was absolutely fascinated by the subject. So, I thought I would share our favorite resources. Most of them we checked out from the library.

Non-Fiction Books

You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Eqyptain Mummy! : Distuging Things You’d Rather Not KNow by David Stewart

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Tutankhamen!: A Mummy Who Really Got Meddled With by David Stewart

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Cursed by King Tut!: A Mysterious Death You’d Rather Avoid by Jacqueline Morley

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Cleopatra!: An Eqyptian Ruler You’d Rather Not Be by Jim Pipe

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder!: A Hazardous Job You’d Rather Not Have by Jacqueline Morley

How Would You Survive as an Ancient Egyptian by Jacqueline Morley

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Egypt by George Hart (the only book we bought)

Fiction Picture Books

Miu and the Pharaoh by Sally Wallace-Jones

The Little Hippo: A Children’s Book Inspired by Egyptian Art by Geraldine Elschner

Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola (Antonio’s favorite. He liked it so much I bought him his own copy)

Bill and Pete to the Rescue by Tomie dePaola (I also bought Antonio a copy of this one)

The Scarab’s Secret by Nick Would

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford.


Egyptian Treasures Mummies and Myths by Jim Weiss

Building Pharaoh’s Chariot (Documentary we found on Netflix)

Virtual Field Trip of Pyramids

Activities: Sadly, while we did a number of hands of activities I did a very poor job taking photos of them.

Step Pryamids built out of legos

Cat Mummy Statues

Egyptian Collars




We Have A Walker

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William is a full fledged walker now and has been for about two weeks. Walking has always been my favorite milestone. I don’t dread the extra mobility and mess that comes from having a walker. Watching the little one teeter and totter as they explore their world at a completely different view brings me incredible joy. It’s also nice not to have to carry them baby everywhere! However, there is something very bitter sweet this time around as I watch William enjoy his new found freedom being a walker has brought him. I am reminded that he is now approaching one and soon I won’t be able to call him a baby. He will be a toddler. I am acutely aware that this is the last time I will watch my baby learn to walk. Never again will I watch and cheer on my baby to take those first few steps. Never again will I encourage my baby to have the confidence to trust himself and let go of the furniture to walk unassisted. William is our last.

I have known that William was our last; since I was put on bed rest 2 weeks before he was born because of debilitating pain. I knew when the midwives and OBGYNs couldn’t come to an agreement on inducing me. There were those that were in favor and than there were those that didn’t want to deal with the extra complications my back added to the picture. My surgeon said it was probably unwise to have another baby. My pain management doctor said it would be disastrous for my health. My body tells me daily that it couldn’t handle another pregnancy. Knowing all this has made me want to savor every moment of his babyhood. I am acutely aware of what a miracle he is and how blessed we are to have him.

I have carefully saved our baby stuff since Paul was born. As each boy outgrew things I would carefully pack them away for later. When the next baby needed them I would retrieve them from storage. This has been the cycle for the last seven years. However, this time there is no need to pack things away for the next baby. So, as William has outgrown stuff I’ve sold or donated most of it; keeping just a select few clothes to turn into a quilt. It has been incredibly hard to give away the baby stuff; not because I am a huge sentimental person and want to keep every little item but because it makes the knowledge that William is our last a reality. It confirms that my body has betrayed me and can not carry another child.

You hear of those women; who say they feel done. That they can’t imagine having another child. I find myself envious of that because I don’t have that. It’d make things easier if I did. I can’t imagine not ever having another baby. I hate pregnancy….I loath pregnancy but I love babies. I love being a mom. It’s something I dreamed about for as long as I can remember. I tried to adopt a baby at 10 years old. Not as in I wanted my parents to adopt the baby. It was a full fledged case of I wanted to adopted the baby myself and be her mom. I was certain I would make a better mom than her biological mom.

I can’t say that if we were able to still have children we would. I just want that option. I want the option to have another child be there. But, it isn’t an option; so instead I find myself making sure that I am enjoying every ounce of babyhood that William has. I am basking in it. As I watch him toddle across the living room I am reminded of all the reasons why this is my favorite milestone. I celebrate it. Soaking up the joy but in the private recesses of my heart I might just cry a little.

1-8th Grade History for under $200 ($25 per year!)

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I had grand plans of teaching history using a  laid out curriculum; that utilized a classical approach. I had researched a ton of curriculum options and settled on one that came with a high cost of several hundred dollars a year. It was suppose to be perfect. I ordered the first unit and quickly realized when I tried to implement it that it wasn’t going to work for us. It was to much and frankly boring. It didn’t keep Paul’s interest. He wasn’t interested in learning about things chronologically. He didn’t want the boring stuff. He wanted to pick a subject that interested him and dive in.  So, we promptly threw in the towel on our fancy expensive curriculum and decided to go with child led unit studies.

In teaching this way our biggest asset is our local library. I let Paul pick a topic and than we go on to the library catalog and start reserving books. Once, they have all arrived (our library is very small; so we rely pretty heavily on inter-library loans.) we go and pick them up. I use pinterest to assembly a list of hands on activities Paul can pick from. We normally do around 5 activities per topic. I try to find at least one field trip in our area that ties in. We will also do virtual field trips via the internet. I can normally find a couple good documentaries or movies on netflix as well.

However, I do have a couple materials that in my opinion are worth investing in. They are materials that can be used over and over; regardless what historical topic you are studying. They can all be purchased for under $200 and will serve you all the way through eight grade. When used in conjunction with the library and internet they help you provide your child with a quality eduction in history. (They could even be used through high school either with a curriculum or continue to be used with unit studies). They are the following:

I bought two poster frames from Walmart ($15 each) to put the maps in to make them easier to use and keep them looking nice.

The other thing is a timeline. I think a timeline is so important for children because it helps them see how history builds on itself. It helps them see the relation between people and events. As we study each topic we add relative events and people to our timeline using figures from the timeline figure collection I listed above. Now, there are timelines you can buy to hang on your wall (like this) but I was to cheap for that. So, what I did was get some painters tape and make my own. I added dates to the tape and that is our timeline. Here is a photo; so you can see what I mean. It’s worked out really well for us and cost me under $5.  So, what is your favorite product for teaching history?


Learning through TV shows and Movies

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We are big fans of fun educational videos in our house. Videos aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you have a very visual learner like a couple of my boys are than maybe the following list will help you. Here are some of our very favorites. Some of them we’ve bought and others we enjoy via Netflix or checking out from the library.

LeapFrog Learning Videos: These videos have long been favorites with our crew when they are toddlers and preschoolers. These videos are a great way to help with ABC’s, numbers, shapes, phonics and other basic early learning skills. We watch them on Netflix but if you wanted to buy them they can be found at Amazon.

Magic School Bus: I bought the complete series off of Amazon and we love pairing them with the books. My boys (and even I) have learned a ton about a wide variety of science topics from watching them.

Wild Kratts: Available on Netflix you can also purchase collections of episodes very inexpensively on Amazon. (Makes a great gift!). We bought the Wild Kratts: Wildest Animal Adventures from Amazon. Paul has learned so much about animals from this show that the last time we were at the zoo he gave the zookeeper sitting next to the cheetah exhibit a lecture on cheetahs. The zookeeper was blown away by all the information Paul knew.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: I personally kind of hate him. He brings back unpleasant memories of being forced to watch him when I was in school as a kid. (I would have rather been reading) but we check out his videos from the library and the kids enjoy them.

Liberty Kids: I can’t recommend this series enough for early elementary age kids studying the American Revolution. It’s an incredibly accurate cartoon series. We bought ours off of Amazon for $5. I have heard that you can find them on youtube as well.

Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego: This is a fun way to learn about different geographical places.  The complete series can be order here on Amazon.

Animated Hero Classic Series: We check this out from the library. A series of 20 biographical that are typically 30-40 minutes long. They have videos about people like George Washington, Harriet Tubman, The Wright Brothers, etc. The movies can be ordered on Amazon. However, if you want to order them the best value I have found is directly from the company Nest Learning that produces the movies. We have not watched any of the bible movies.

I recently came across this blog post that has a great list of movies and documentaries on Netflix that can be used with Story of the World. Even if you don’t use Story of the World (we don’t) it is a great list!

PBS shows like Sid the Science Kid, Word Girl and Super Why are great educational shows for kids. They aren’t my personal favorites but kids can still learn a lot from them. They are readily available on netflix or on PBS.

I also came across the website Teach With Movies. I haven’t used it yet because it is mostly geared movies for kids older than mine but it has some good content on it and I’ve bookmarked it for the future.

What are you favorite educational movies or tv shows for kids?