Blog, She Wrote Top Ten Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten for 2013It’s been a great blogging year for Blog, She Wrote. In January we moved from Blogger to WordPress and streamlined our look and organization. I’m still working on some of that, but I’ve tried more than ever to create relevant content for you all.

Most Popular Blog, She Wrote Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play

Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play- This is my ultimate list of long lasting toys for creative play. We love the things on this list. Do you enjoy any of the same things?

Blog, She Wrote: Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}

Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}- This post is very popular! Enjoy a look at how we use Life of Fred math from elementary through high school and why.

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organizing Your Homeschool Library- This is an older post that is still viewed often. I need to update this post to show our new home’s arrangement, but the basic organization is the same.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}- This was part of my five day series on Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool. Full of ideas, projects, how to mentor are all there. Have a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day- I love this post. It shares the elements that make a joyful and productive day of homeschooling in our home. Among my favorites are reading, projecting, and collaborating. What makes a great day in your homeschool?

Blog, She Wrote: Adventure Box Themes

Adventure Box Themes- The first in a series of Adventure Box ideas in a ten day Hopscotch Series. This one features a video on exactly what Adventure Boxes are and how they can pour into your kids’ passions.

Blog, She Wrote: Working with a Bright, Occasionally Motivated High Schooler

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips & Tricks- The details on how we work with our high schooler to set goals and help him to see them through. I tried to share how we work with a student who isn’t always ideally motivated. I bet a lot of us have smart kids who like to sit back some.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Fun Close to Home

Our {Close to Home} Summer Bucket List- Otherwise known as how to have fun close to home in the summer! We were grounded from traveling when my husband fell and had a severe sprain in his ankle which resulted in five large blood clots in his leg. We aimed to enjoy our time near to home and it was a fabulous summer.

Blog, She Wrote: Robin Cam

Robin Cam- Does anyone remember our robin cam from the spring? Dan set up a camera to capture the nesting season for a pair of robins who set up camp in a potted plant we were given as an encouragement when Dan was injured. Right on the table on our back porch we got an up close look. The videos are still viewable if you’d like to do a little spring dreaming. Just go from the bottom up to see the series.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Learning Environment

Our Learning Spaces: A Tour- The title says it all. This is the grand tour of our homeschool spaces. This post makes me smile.

Thank you for being a reader at Blog, She Wrote. If you’ve never taken the time to subscribe, please do so now and enjoy Blog, She Wrote in your inbox.

Happy 2014! I can’t wait to share more practical homeschooling advice and encouragement in the coming year.

10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion: Owning the Passion

Welcome to 10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion at Blog, She Wrote! Thank you for joining me. Please take a moment to subscribe, so you don’t miss out- you can follow, subscribe by email or RSS feed (just look to the right!) and follow Blog, She Wrote on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I’d love it if you’d stay connected and visit again!

The final topic in this 10 Days Series is Owning the Passion. During the 10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion, we have looked at:

Once you’ve identified a passion and you’ve been pouring into it as a parent, the final step it to make sure your child own the passion at some point. As parents, we will help to get things started and we can create opportunities and makes sure our children meet them. But, as our children grow and mature, we want them to be owners of their own experiences.  

After all, if we have to be the ones always taking the initiative in a particular area, we need to begin questioning whether or not the child really holds a passion for that interest. The goal is to hand off the administration and details to our children once they are in high school. In middle school, we want to see them take some of the lead and show us their continued interest. As a former middle school teacher, I know well that part of our job at that age from 11-13 or so is also teaching responsibility. And it takes effort and patience!

For example, you may recall that last Friday E13 and I took the falconry exam together. In the days leading up to the exam, he needed some reminders of what his priority needed to be. Whether it be enjoying screen time or finding anything else to do besides study, I reminded him that it was time to get serious and prepare for the exam and that a lot of people were supporting this effort and it did not appear that he was preparing well for it. I wondered out loud with him what he would do if I passed and he did not. Sometimes we’ll have to help our children really think about what they are aspiring to and if it’s worth it.

That is not to say that they won’t change their mind or head in a new direction. Always keep in mind that whatever your children are after doesn’t have to be what you have in mind for them! As we began the pursuit of falconry, we were clear with E13 that he had choices about what he would be “all in” for as a teen. What he didn’t have a choice about is the choice to do nothing! We let him know that his time would be full of more than building with legos and playing screen time during his free time. Teens need something they are “all in” for so if falconry wasn’t it that was fine with us…but it would be something. E13 is extremely focused on things he wants to pursue, but his interest can ebb and wane. It will be easy to tell when he’s done with something. The strong fire to go after something will dull to barely a flicker. However, the flicker can be temporary and it’s expected even with something he loves. So, our job is to shepherd that tendency and try to teach diligence and consistency in his effort.

R11 is younger, but with her it’s a matter of continuing to provide more materials, finances, and time to her passion regularly. As long as we see her growing in this area and as long as she remains passionate about what she wants to pursue, we can support her in that growth. Being of a different personality, she already takes a lot of initiative in her projects and learning. With her, it’s more the mentoring of producing a quality project and that although she loves the creative process, consumers of her work will want a well made item as well. It’s all about shaping the passion and moving into a different role.

Our job is to be facilitators of our children’s passions- giving them ample time and opportunity to experience and explore what they love. As our children get older, we continue to facilitate at some level but we become more of a mentor at that point helping to shape the interest and to help our children realize their potential within a given passion. Hopefully realizing the potential will mean post graduate education and a vocation. If it’s not the primary avenue our children choose for themselves, it will be a life long interest continuing to influence them. 

I hope this series has been helpful to you. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Leave a comment and let me know how you are pouring into your child’s passion!

 

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The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects. Visit us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  And of course, click the image below to visit all the 10 Days posts from these homeschool moms of the iHomeschool Network.

You’ll be blessed with tips on how to handle bad days, cultivating curiosity, teaching with Legos, and much much more!

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10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion: Incorporating the Passion into Your Homeschool

Welcome to 10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion at Blog, She Wrote! Thank you for joining me. Please take a moment to subscribe, so you don’t miss out- you can follow, subscribe by email or RSS feed (just look to the right!) and follow Blog, She Wrote on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I’d love it if you’d stay connected and visit again!
Today’s topic is using your homeschool to pour into your child’s passion. This is probably the easiest thing to do when it comes to pouring into a child’s passion. I think the hardest thing will be giving yourself permission to give your student ample time to do so.
What are some ways to incorporate the pursuit of a passion within your homeschool?
 
Difficult Subjects- When you have a subject that is a challenge for your student, look for ways to involve their interest in the process.  I always look for ways to include sewing in R11′s math. She responds to it well and the more authentic the better! Right now she’s in 6th grade doing some work with diving decimals. She doesn’t like it- imagine that! But this week, after having more practice the conventional way, I set about creating some sewing math for her. She has to measure fabric and convert the fractional measurement to decimals and then I give her an assignment that asks her to do something with that quantity- so that she’ll divide! I’m not talking about sewing word problems. That’s not authentic enough…she’s smart enough to know it’s just a word problem on her favorite topic. Instead, I’ve been asking her to measure and work with the numbers. After that, she gets to make the creation from the piece of fabric she’s been using and sometimes I’ve put some fun parameters on that.
R11 tries out her new serger and does some decimal math at the same time.
Unit Studies- of course! We are a unit study family, but if you aren’t it’s a great way to focus on all the aspects of a particular topic in a way that connects the subject to all disciplines. There are many sources for commercial unit studies, but often writing your own is the way to go. One of my favorite inspiring resources for this is Valerie Bendt’s Unit Studies Made Easy (also available in digital download now). You can incorporate the Adventure Box here too and let your child explore the possibilities. I9 has been really interested in space and flight this year and has expressed interest in learning more about flight. This year he’s helped to build a model Wright Flyer and a model rocket which we’ve been launching this spring whenever we have good weather. His last unit of the school year will likely be the Amanda Bennett Unit Study on Flight. Unit studies are a great way to insert some charge into a slow moment in the school year. Take advantage of them!
Books- saturate your print environment with books on the topic and of related areas. You always want to have on hand the books and other print materials that will give your child more information. If it’s a hands-on endeavor, then have the how-to books right there for them to pick up and try. R11 often reads her sewing books, gets them from the library, and reads blogs that give her instructions on new things to try. She is given the freedom to investigate and try out new projects which has helped her to learn new techniques and to practice them.
Time for Passion Pursuit- in addition to providing materials for them, children need to be given the time to explore the opportunities they have in front of them. Without time in their day, it’s difficult to achieve much success. Once our school work is finished for the day, I allow time for them to play and investigate and just generally spend time with the thing that they love- the thing that drives them. For my youngest, it will be anything science related. As I write this, he’s making circuits and trying to design his own using his Snap Circuits. Or you’ll find him looking at things under our digital microscope. You might find my kids reading on their favorite topic or working on that new doll dress. This is a truly Charlotte Mason style activity in our home, but lots of time is given over to working on what they love (outside of video games!).
R11 spends time trying on the dress she will help to refashion for the Civil War Ball this year.
High School Plan- make sure your high school plans include plenty of time for the pursuit of a passion. If you follow along and provide opportunities and mentors for your child’s interests, the hope is that out of those efforts a desire for a vocation will form. High school is the time to focus on those and see what comes of it. So many young people leave for university without knowing their goal, helping our students to discover their passion will help in this process and give them a strong vision for their future. High school is the perfect time to follow the passion in the form of volunteer work, part time work, internships, online coursework, day-long seminars, etc. This is where keeping an eye out for opportunities is important. In the fall, we are planning for E13 to attend a falconry meet here in NY to see other falconers and experience more of the sport. That’s just one more chance to see the passion in action.
Newly trapped male red tail on a trapping expedition last fall.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to allow the time for your students to really dive into an interest and develop it. Don’t be afraid to let go of some of the convention in your homeschool to allow this to happen. It will reap great benefits far beyond those you can plan for in your homeschool.
Equally as important, particularly as they get older, is that they own the passion. It doesn’t work well if you as the parent is the one with all the excitement, though you may be the one to get things started. At a certain point, the student must own it for themselves and that’s just what I’ll be talking about in our last 10 Days post in this series, tomorrow.
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The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects. Visit us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  And of course, click the image below to visit all the 10 Days posts from these homeschool moms of the iHomeschool Network.

You’ll be blessed with tips on how to handle bad days, cultivating curiosity, teaching with Legos, and much much more!

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10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion: Look for Opportunities

Welcome to 10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion at Blog, She Wrote! Thank you for joining me. Please take a moment to subscribe, so you don’t miss out- you can follow, subscribe by email or RSS feed (just look to the right!) and follow Blog, She Wrote on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I’d love it if you’d stay connected and visit again!

Today’s post is all about finding opportunities for your children to encourage them in their passion. These can be ongoing activities or simply one time field trips, but the idea is to seek out ways for your children to experience different aspects of their interest. Some of your ideas may even introduce you to a person who can be a mentor either right away or sometime in the future.
Online experiences- The internet is full of opportunities for you to share with your children. From YouTube videos to online classes, to online clubs (through CurrClick) to formal online coursework, it is likely you can find something for your kids to enjoy. CurrClick has a lot of online classes but also free clubs like LEGO and American Girl that meet each month.
One of my favorites is Craftsy- an online craft class website. Some of our favorite designers have classes there and we have enjoyed some refashioning and Christmas projects. We have other classes in the wings since they have sales all the time- knitting, crocheting, sewing techniques among other things are available. The great thing about Craftsy is that you can access the class anytime. You can contact the teacher with questions and they really do get back to you. Plus, access is unlimited so it never expires. The classes are broken down into segments of about 15- 20 minutes and it’s fun to watch and learn. They are very reasonably priced and often have half off sales which I jump at. Our latest acquisition is a textured sewing class which will add a lot of variety to R11′s projects. Considering the cost of sewing classes locally, this is a steal and it allows her to learn any time she wants. Best of all, I don’t have to drive anywhere with three boys in tow!
We made this poinsettia brooch at the December Sewing Camp- I let the girls watch the segment and they got started. Great fun!
Local colleges and universities- take advantage of opportunities offered by your local colleges and universities. This may be a resource you have not tapped into yet or maybe you think there isn’t much going on, but I encourage you to reach out and see what’s there. We live in the shadow of several colleges and one Ivy League university all of which have programming for the outlying communities. One of them offers a lending library of science activities for homeschoolers and teachers. There are annual events like Insectapalooza- a big day put on by the entomology department in the fall. Each spring the Veterinary School at Cornell has an open house full of all kinds of things to see and career information for kids interested in animals.
Last year I discovered the fashion shows put on by local universities and through an announcement from 4H we attended the one at Syracuse University. An alumni email forwarded to me by a friend led us to a reception followed by the show at Cornell. We had a fabulous evening talking with faculty of the dept and parents of graduating seniors and then enjoyed the show which included men’s fashions. We are going to this year’s show in a few days. Based on various connections, I think the admission faculty at Cornell are awaiting R11′s portfolio to cross their desks in a few years!
Want some time on a microscope? Give them a call. You’d be surprised at what they are willing to offer in the way of tours and interviews. Remember that university faculty ultimately rely on the general public to experience their research in some way. Outreach connections are in the charter of many grants the researchers hold. Reach out and see what can happen.
Organizations and Clubs- Lots of us are involved with scouts or the equivalent. We are a 4H family. We’ve tried out clubs, but we operate best as independents. Either way I love 4H because it’s unifying. I don’t have to take the boys in one direction and our daughter in another. We can participate as a family. 4H offers us the chance to exhibit work in the local and state fair. The kids have made public presentations at various level of competition. This year E13 did an excellent presentation on the Art of Falconry which will he will be doing again at the county and state fair this summer. Right now he serves on the county’s Fair Board and he’s excited about helping to get ready for the fair. I’ve been attending with him and he’s learning a lot for sure. Whatever you choose to be part of, make sure it aligns with your family’s purpose and values.

There are plenty of opportunities for our children if we know where to look and how to ask! Keep your eyes open for announcements and emails about various things going on in your community. You never know if one will ignite or fan the flame of a passion. 

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The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects. Visit us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  And of course, click the image below to visit all the 10 Days posts from these homeschool moms of the iHomeschool Network.

You’ll be blessed with tips on how to handle bad days, cultivating curiosity, teaching with Legos, and much much more!

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10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion: Who Do You Know?

Welcome to 10 Days of Pouring into Your Child’s Passion at Blog, She Wrote! Thank you for joining me. Please take a moment to subscribe, so you don’t miss out- you can follow, subscribe by email or RSS feed (just look to the right!) and follow Blog, She Wrote on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I’d love it if you’d stay connected and visit again!

Today’s topic is Who Do You Know who can help you engage your children and help to mentor them in their area of interest? When our children are young, it is most likely you as a parent or another family member who will recognize and help to further a particular interest. As they get older, you may find other people who can contribute their time and expertise. 
I’m not just talking about people you hire for lessons, but community members who have a niche in the area of your child’s curiosity. Great places to find mentors might be at church or through a friend or even another homeschooling family. Perhaps there is someone you or your spouse work with who can lend a hand. Identify people you know or know of who can be an encourager. It doesn’t have to be on a regular basis. If someone you know loves entomology and you have a nature kid crazy about bugs, how about arranging some time for your child to visit the bug collection and hear all about it and maybe get tips on how to start his own? Obviously, we need to be discerning about who we seek out, but it’s easy to set up a time and have the whole family along. 
Both of our older kids have an adult mentor in their area of interest. As you know, E13 is working on his falconry license. There are some criteria that go along it- you must have a small game hunting license- which requires the hunter safety course. You must pass the falconry exam – we attempted that on Friday and will find out soon if we pass. The hawk house (mews) needs to be built and inspected and you must purchase all the necessary equipment to handle the raptor safely. Lastly, you must be apprenticed to a master falconer for two years (and be 18) before you can become a general falconer. Master falconer is achieved after that. So…one requirement of the license is to find that mentor! Last year at the village library we had a chance to meet up again with an associate director of a local nature center. He was speaking on bird migration at an evening library program. We had seen him another time at the center where we were attending a preschool amphibian program. He talked with E13 (who was along at the time and younger) about the birds that could be seen at the feeder. When E13 could name them all and they chatted with each other about them- he was trying to identify one last bird and the man said well that’s a wood pecker. E13 replied, “I know it’s a woodpecker. I’m trying to decide if it’s a downy or a hairy woodpecker!” After that Mr. H knew E13 was serious about birds and guaranteed him he’d see a hawk on the hike. Sure enough, he pulled out his hawk for us to see (that is the picture I use often of the hawk on the fist). So, that night at the library last year, I encouraged E to ask Mr. H if he would apprentice him to be a falconer and Mr. H gave a hearty yes! We’ve attended bird trappings and he has helped E13 out with his 4H presentations. Once we apply for our licenses in the fall (we must build a mews and of course wait for E to turn 14 in September!), we’ll be seeing a lot more of Mr. H.
After R11 was inspired by her grandmother to begin machine sewing, another mentor stepped in for her (we live over 300 miles away from sewing grandmothers). Mrs. R has been a fast friend for R11 having had four daughters of her own. She goes to our church. She loves R’s company and being of the same creative mold, they always have a great time. Right now they are working on something together. I’ll give you a glimpse of R’s Civil War Ball gown. We got together to design the gown which was to be refashioned from an old bridesmaid turned prom gown. We looked at a few vintage sewing sources and decided on a tiered skirt which I read had been all the rage back in the 1850s. We took apart a few dresses and R11 was tasked with the underskirt – attaching a ribbon and making a new seam on a crinoline and liner taken from yet another dress. Meanwhile, Mrs. R has been working on the dress pieces. This picture is from the second fitting and we are due for another this week. I won’t give away anymore gown secrets today, but we’ll show some more progress soon. The ball is on May 12th.

Our younger boys spend a great deal of time with us building models, looking into microscopes, and lately…Dan and I9 have been doing model rockets together. J6 is happiest when you pour into his passion of science. I mold a lot of his schooling around experiments and discoveries.

So, I encourage you to find others who can contribute some time to your kids and their journey. Who do you know? Who do you know who knows someone else? Tomorrow I’ll be writing about finding opportunities for your kids to experience what they love. Hopefully, that will give you more ideas on finding an occasional mentor.

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The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects. Visit us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  And of course, click the image below to visit all the 10 Days posts from these homeschool moms of the iHomeschool Network.

You’ll be blessed with tips on how to handle bad days, cultivating curiosity, teaching with Legos, and much much more!

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