Geography Quest: Operation Christmas Child Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Operation Christmas Child Edition

It’s that time of year when Samartin’s Purse is gearing up for Operation Christmas Child collections. Does your family participate? We have for years and with the addition of some simple tracking options, I thought Operation Christmas Child would make a fun Geography Quest.

Map the Locations in the World Where OCC Boxes Are Sent

Pack an OCC Box & Pray over It and the Child Who Will Receive It.

  • Enjoy some Veggie Tales themed OCC materials- fun printouts for the kids and you can find the box labels here.
  • You can print coloring pages to send with your box. Our kids love to put their biographical information and address in hopes that maybe they’ll hear back from the child who receives the box. It hasn’t happened yet, but we keep trying!
  • How about some instructions on what goes into a box and how to pack it and make sure it gets shipped?
  • We pack a box for each of our children in the same age and gender categories as our children.
  • Pray over your boxes and the children who will receive them.

Other Ways to Be Involved

Map the Journey Your Box Took Once You Receive Notification

  • For a few years now, OCC has given everyone the option of paying online and printing labels which have a barcode on them. When those codes are scanned, OCC will track the box for you and you’ll receive an email after delivery on where your boxes were sent.
  • Map a possible journey your box took from your home to the country of destination.

Join me in sending a box of Hope to a child around the world and learn a little culture and geography at the same time. We still have time to fill boxes and make the collection week in mid-November. It’s easy to find a collection point near you. Thanks for another fun Hopscotch series!


Student Portraits 2013-2014

Blog She Wrote: Student PortaitsFor the Student Portrait sharing day on the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop, I’m sharing a “portrait” of each of our students. Enjoy a “look” at who our kids are and where they are in life right now starting the 2013-2014 homeschool year.

Blog She Wrote: Student Portaits

E14 (almost 15)- 10th Grade

  • loves anything Star Wars and in particular LEGO Star Wars
  • is passionate about making his own LEGO Star Wars minifig customs- he started a blog showing how he does it, but he tells me that’s a lot of work and won’t be adding to it. We’ll see if I can convince him otherwise! BrikSmith Customs is his blog.
  • is a computation king- he is a numbers kid.
  • loves a good standardized test. I recently dropped him off on a summer night to take the PSAT practice test. He’d been doing work during the day and boy did I feel a little guilty about requiring the practice on a gorgeous summer night. Until I picked him up. He was jazzed. Ramped up because this kid loves a good test. More power to him.
  • Enjoys good literature- he loves to read, although he loves his favorites best and it’s not easy to get him to try something new
  • Loves to write- this is a new area we are pouring into because I realized how much of a word smart kid he is.
  • Blogs at Of Bows and Arrows, Swords and Spears- enjoy a peek into his writing world.
  • Wrote a novel with One Year Adventure Novel and adores the community of teens there. He is working hard to save money to attend next year’s summer conference.
  • Has a knack for languages and is currently learning Arabic and Biblical Greek
  • Loves technology- what 14yo male doesn’t? He’s pretty handy.
  • Enjoys video games- of course he does.

Blog She Wrote: Student PortaitsR13- 8th Grade

  • Is a creative girl from her very core
  • Loves to sew- as many of you know
  • Has a little business sewing custom designs for people who ask.
  • Loves yarn and creating with yarn
  • Has a blog and keeps it fairly current now- Miss Bliss
  • Loves to play- she is young at heart
  • Is great with younger kids and engaging them with activity
  • Is a sweet soul who loves her brothers
  • Loves her Kindle and reads a lot- she loves fiction and anything crafty
  • Has excellent spatial skills and can read and follow directions on “how tos” very well. I wish I had that super power.
  • Wants to be a fabric designer and make things with fabric

Blog She Wrote: Student PortaitsI11- 6th Grade

  • Is a boy adventurer- in spirit not always action!
  • Very cautious
  • Loves airplanes. Anything airplanes. All airplanes.
  • Joined the Academy of Model Aeronautics a few months ago- loves to go to local events
  • Flies his model airplane as often as he can
  • Enjoys his flight simulator
  • Reads, reads, reads- he loves stories of adventure and flight along with anything non-fiction on flight, model rocketry, and military planes and their campaigns.
  • Builds model planes and rockets in his workspace
  • Would love to design planes. Piloting is out because he is red/green colored blind. Unless, of course, his little brother invents something amazing to combat that problem.

Blog She Wrote: Student PortaitsJ8- 3rd Grade

  • Quintessential engineer- this boy has engineering coursing through his veins. If you’ve ever known and engineer, then you know what I’m talking about. He approaches everything in life by figuring out how it works and how he could make it better. He is going for the triple threat- chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineer. If anyone can do it, he could. Let’s see how his focus narrows down as he grows.
  • Loves all things science. ALL things.
  • Entomologist- he likes to collect bugs. Sometimes for pets. But also to pin. He has joined an entomology 4H club this year and is anxious to begin. We are currently collecting for pinning throughout the year. Serious business.
  • Tinkerer- loves to build and fiddle and figure out.
  • Fiercely Independent- the very fun combination of being very independent but sensitive. This kid will stake out his ground but does it so honestly much of the time that it’s easy to hurt his feelings.
  • Independent Learner- FIERCELY independent in his learning. If any of our kids could be that person from history who taught himself and became something great, this is the kid. He has a burning desire to learn because he has stuff in mind to do. He has just finished reading his C++ manual from cover to cover and has taught his dad things about that programming language from all his reading.
  • I have lots of stories of this kid doing and figuring out things. Here’s a video of his automatic toilet flusher made from LEGO NXT.

I hope you enjoyed a brief look at our students for the 2013-2014 homeschool year. Enjoy other student portraits from the 5th annual Not-Back-to-School Hop from iHN.


Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of Homeschooling

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of HomeschoolingFreedom from the conventional academic schedule

We can orchestrate our school year any way we’d like as long as we meet 180 days a year. Families can choose to homeschool while they travel or take breaks when the weather is good and school through harsh weather conditions. Not being bound by the school academic calendar has many benefits.

Tailoring our children’s education to their specific interests and needs

There is a significant advantage to being able to design a program of education just for a specific child and having the time to implement it.

Kids can work at their own pace. This is a huge part of implementing a customized program for our children. Some students need to press the edge of what they can do and some need to slow down.

Pouring into a passion and watching talent and skill grow

Homeschooling means having the time and energy to focus on a particular area of interest and skill with abandon. It doesn’t have to be compartmentalized away from other academic work or pursuits. Pursuing passions is a large part of our homeschool. Click here for my ten day series on Pouring into a Passion in Your Homeschool.

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool DayFreedom from the typical daily school routine

We love our homeschool days! Just ask us what happens on any given day and we’ll tell you what makes a Great Homeschool Day. On any given day our kids are immersed in learning. If you haven’t read about it, click in to enjoy the characteristics of a homeschool day at our house!

Allowing our children to have ownership in their education

I have always sought our children’s input into their education. When they were younger it might be as simple as the choice between two unit studies we’d eventually do anyway, but it gave them a limited sense of steering the course. As they’ve gotten older, they make bigger decisions about their schooling. There are some basic guidelines to follow, but how we get there and which materials we use are largely flexible. If a student has a strong desire for something, we can probably make it happen especially if it fits with their educational goals.

Taking advantage of opportunities based on availability

Our children can be mentored or have internships when public schooled kids are not available. It’s great to incorporate this time right into their schooling. We’ve gone on hawk trappings and fish stockings. We’ve arranged for sewing times and other lessons as part of our homeschool day.

Having time to dive into a topic and follow it to the end

Once given an assignment, our kids can manage their own time and complete it without having to always switch gears to another class or do their work outside of “class time”. As the teacher, you have to be willing to experience the same flexibility, but I’ve seen excellent work come out of allowing my kids to work on a project their own way. Watching students work on their own is a great way to discover how your kids work best.

Always time for reading- reading on our own and reading aloud together.

Our kids do a lot of reading. Sometimes it’s suggestion when someone is bored, but more often than not it’s based on an interest. We have plenty of print material on hand and there’s always a Kindle book available.

Reading aloud is a huge part of our family culture and always brings us together and gets us talking about story. Homeschooling means we can read aloud for two hours in a day and still get the rest of our academic work finished.

I post a lot on how to build a reading culture in your home- whether or not your kids enjoy reading. Enjoyment is not really a prerequisite for the requirement and there are a lot of resources out there to inspire you to make it a priority in your home.

Enjoy a few posts on the topic of reading!

  • Emerging Readers to Super Readers- a post I wrote for Heart of the Matter on how to work with a newly emerging reader. Great ideas here for increasing fluency.
  • Keeping up with The Accelerated Reader- another post I did for HOTM on how to work with a child who reads well above grade level and reads a lot. It’s a lot of work to keep up with a voracious reader.
  • Tips for Reading Aloud- do you struggle with reading aloud or getting your kids to sit for it? These tips might give you some ideas.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of Homeschooling

Living out a lifestyle of learning

Without feeling like we are asking our kids to do school at home- when they’d be home from school. When our oldest was in public school we could not engage him on all the fun learning things we did for the first five years of his life because he was done at the end of a school day. We knew we had to turn that back around.

Our kids know that learning occurs all the time. We can incorporate life skills into our academic programming and get yummy homeschool lunches as a result! Our days are “structured” so that they can do academic work and project work throughout the day.

Our home is set up to maximize learning potential as well. We keep a large homeschool library for our kids to enjoy and each of them has a personal space for their projects (post coming soon now that J8 has his spot!).

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of Homeschooling

Spending time together

Homeschooling allows us to spend time together learning, playing, and discovering. We can build strong relationships with each other and our kids get to be around people of all ages during the day. We love to play games and make meals together. Our children play well with each other and often encourage one another. Of course, there’s a downside to that too, but largely when our kids run into squabbles they are able to take some time to work it out. The benefits of collaboration between our children far outweighs any of the occasional frustrating moments.

Feel free to check out more benefits of homeschooling from other iHomeschool Network bloggers!

Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on Our Shelf

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational CookbooksThis post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Blog, She Wrote!

Last week I missed Top Ten Tuesday so I thought I’d do a twist on favorite foods this week and tell you about our favorite educational cookbooks. (You didn’t need to know ten random things about me, did you?)

Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on Our Shelf!

These are the Top Ten that are currently on our cookbook shelves. Most are oriented toward children and some are specifically related to our homeschool.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks

Five in a Row Cookbook- These are recipes that go with each of the titles in the first three volumes of the Five in a Row curriculum as well as Beyond FIAR. Many of you know we are big users of FIAR and have been since the beginning. The recipes for Volume 4 are found right in the volume with the lessons and Bible supplement.

The Math Chef: Over 60 Math Activities and Recipes for Kids- I love to use math in the kitchen with my kids. You don’t need a special cookbook for this purpose of course, but I like the way The Math Chef breaks to recipes down into the various concepts in math from measuring to fractions, geometry, and arithmetic. There are recipes to go with each concept. That makes it nice for planning.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks

American Grub – Eats for Kids from All Fifty States - This is a cool little book I picked up at the library sale. There are lots of geography focused cookbooks I don’t have, but this one shares recipes that represent each state. I think its one limitation is not being able to capture a region very well. Each state has a recipe, but it may only be the big deal food from one area of the state. For example, NY pizza is a great idea for the city, but not so much upstate NY. Still, there’s a lot of geography and anecdotal information in this collection of recipes.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks

The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories  -This is a classic especially if your family enjoys the Little House series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are so many lessons in here about the foods mentioned in the books and why they would have cooked the way they did and made the food choices they did. This is a great title for Little House fans and a lovely history book besides.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks

Williams Sonoma Kids Baking- fabulous cookbook teaching kids the finer points of baking. The banana bread recipe I made this week was lovely. I enjoy how they use graphics and words to give the basics about baking at the start of the book.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks

Williams-Sonoma Cooking Together: Having Fun in the Kitchen with Your Kidsa  cookbook with more than just dessert. Any WS cookbook does a great job with general cooking instruction. This one is no exception.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on Our Shelf

Cooking & Science for Secondary Students- this one is really a science text focusing on science in the kitchen. Great details for using this as a lab text. I highly recommend this book. Fabulous kitchen chemistry. Well written. Excellent resource for writing lab reports. Bonus- you’ll get food when you are finished!

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on Our Shelf

Cooking & Science for Elementary Students- this one is very similar to the secondary edition, but instead of the students writing their own lab reports they have the full worksheet waiting for them. Our kids really enjoyed working through this last school year. We haven’t finished yet so we have more fun in store.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on our Shelf

I’m Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0- Any Alton Brown fans among us? Anything by Alton is educational. He is the king of kitchen chemistry and is able to convey the whys of method and practice in a humorous and effective way. If you are interested in learning about your food and not just following a recipe, Alton is your guy!

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on Our ShelfI’m Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking- The second volume of this series of Alton Brown cookbooks, this one focuses more on baking. He shares the science behind breads, cakes, cookies, etc. If you have a child who loves to cook and loves to learn good technique, these books are a great starting place.

There you have it. The Top Ten Educational Cookbooks on Our Shelf. I’m sure you have some you could share with us. Please leave your favorites in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesdays are sponsored by iHN and Many Little Blessings. See what other bloggers have to say this week!

Our {Close to Home} Summer Bucket List

Today I’m sharing our Summer Bucket List which has changed in the last six weeks due to an injury Dan sustained in late April. His bad ankle sprain has translated into complications requiring frequent visits to the doctor and continued monitoring. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and that’s what we’ll aim to do.

The official Blog, She Wrote Summer 2013 Bucket List!

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket List

Use the different paint additives we have on projects- we have a fabric medium which turns our Biocolor paint into fabric paint. We can make puffy paints along with shimmery and glittery paints.

Volunteer at a Wildlife Refuge- I read in a regional magazine about some opportunity and we think it would be a great experience. Especially for our falconer.

Spend regular afternoons at the pool- we’re joining a community pool this year which I hope will be a fun way to cool off and learn more water skills. My kids have been slow to enjoy water and some are still working on it. I’m hopeful there won’t be tons of camp kids there!

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket List

See a kids’ play at a local theater- we’ve purchased season tickets in the past. It would be fun to just pick one to see that everyone would enjoy.

Trips to the library in our old town along with a stop at the ice cream shop- we had our first cone of the season last week. R12 was asked to teach a session making Zines for the summer library program. So, we should have ample chances at this one.

See our garden through to a good harvest- this is our first concerted effort at a big garden. Some plants are in and some are being planted this weekend. Wish us luck!

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket ListPrepare projects for and participate in the 4H County Fair- we have until the end of July to get this in order. We have some projects in the works and others are still in the planning stage.

Explore some local parks- we live adjacent to one and a few blocks from another just for starters. Just today they took off for the park with their Swallows & Amazons flags!

Enjoy summer nature studies- which can include observation, sketching, painting, or research. Whatever the kids find to discover works for me.

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket List

Set some reading goals and achieve them- I haven’t decided on a goal yet. My kids read all the time, but there’s no reason not to encourage them anyway. Still thinking on this one. I have my own reading goals so it might be fun to share those with the kids and see what comes of it.

Read aloud together the next two books in the Swallows & Amazons series- Have you read these Arthur Ransome books with your kids? They’re just FUN. You can’t help but enjoy the adventures these children have. Oh the freedom to set sail and camp on an island! My kids are ready to embark on this one already. I’ve been asked several times to start reading. I’m looking forward to it! Swallows and Amazons forever!

Spend time outside on our porches- we have three…well two since one isn’t covered, but we can easily read aloud on rainy afternoons on a good porch. I adore my porches. We can play games or read or anything.

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket List

Play games. Lots and lots of games. - We hope to get through some we haven’t played yet and enjoy others we already enjoy. We have a new game on the floor right now my kids are hoping to sit down and play tomorrow.

Enjoy our local science center- which is a fantastic place. We’re going to renew our membership and have fun. They have a new summer exhibit to learn about. This will be a fabulous stop on super hot days. Or super rainy days!

Take walks- we have wooded trails behind our house along with any number of park trails in and around our town. If you like outside, this is the place to be!

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket List

Make a pie crust- I’ve only done it once and I was not impressed. But, I’ve always wanted to be able to make a great pie crust. I know I’ll have some eager helpers. And eager taste testers.

Take a trip to the William Seward House- this is the home of Lincoln’s Secretary of State and it is full of wonderful artifacts. If we can’t get to Gettysburg this summer (still hoping for the fall), then we’ll pick another fun spot with some Lincoln artifacts. I’m hoping to put together a scavenger hunt based on our last visit a few years ago.

Try some new snack recipes- I’ve always wanted to get good at making fun, healthy snacks and Pinterest is calling to me to try some new things. It’ll be tasty and it’ll get more kids in the kitchen to learn their way around.

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket ListTake care of our garter snake successfully for the summer- we will likely return him to his habitat at the end of the summer, but so far we’ve learned a great deal about this species and hope to learn more.

Paint some rooms in the house- we can’t do them all at once, but we hope to get a few more places painted. Even if their personal space doesn’t get finished, whatever is done is one room closer to their rooms being painted!

Install ceiling fans in the kids’ bedrooms- I think I can safely say this one is on everyone’s bucket list. They can hardly wait!

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket ListMake a batik fabric- using the directions from our Craftsy class on Making Wax Fabric Resists. Very excited to try this one and I know the boys will like it too.

Pursue a passion daily- our kids always have something going on and we’ll spend time nurturing our projects this summer.

Camp at our favorite state park- this one is on the calendar and reserved for the week before Labor Day. Usually we camp at least once more for a week, but this is where we are rolling with it.

Blog She Wrote: Summer Bucket List

Instead of providing you with a printable for your bucket list, I thought this would be a great reminder for you about how much I adore notebook paper! I made my notebook paper bucket list in just a few moments. Need more refreshing ideas on how to use loose leaf paper? Check out my series on Using Ordinary Notebook Paper!

I do reserve the right to add to our list though it was a group effort. Whatever your plans are this summer, be sure to enjoy them!

Be sure to visit some other iHomeschool Network bloggers for a peek at the summer plans for other families!