All Good Things must come to an end...

2013-04-13 20.05.48...or the "What I did for summer" post...

I had every intention of being better at this consistent blogging stuff. 


I did.

And then summer came and it hit like a ton of bricks and I once again succumbed to that phenomenon that hits towards the end of June when we hit the height of baseball season. You know...that overwhelming feeling that I'm treading water just fast enough to keep from drowning.

2015-06-23 16.26.29I know it sounds like a very dismal prospect, but I have to clarify that when I'm in the midst of it, I'm actually loving it. It's not until I've had a week of no baseball and I begin to process the previous 6-8 weeks that it hits me, that "Wow, this is what those weeks were like. And I made it through them once again."

Now I'm sitting on the shore and I get to breathe and relax and essentially turn off my brain for a while. I don't have to run anyone anywhere if  I don't want to; I can park myself in front of the TV/computer and binge-watch whatever is the latest obsession (it's Poldark, in case you're wondering); I can plop down in my favorite cozy chair and lose myself in the other-world of a good book.

What I'm Reading

2015-07-25 15.00.47If you're connected to me on GoodReads, you'll see that I've spent a good deal of time reading. Part of beauty of travel baseball is that although you're at the whim of the baseball schedule, you tend to have a decent amount of "down time" and not nearly the number of distractions of home (you know, like housework, LOL). Here's a list of the books I've gone through this summer (note: there are some affiliate links following):

I am also currently reading the following:

I like to have a few books going at once, since I never know what kind of mood I'm going to be in. And if you're a keen observer, you'll see that about half of the books on these lists are related to the medieval period in history. Which leads me to my next thought...

Planning for the new school year

So I've taken some time to just chill, but that's not to say I haven't been thinking. Baseball season officially finished last weekend for us as a family and I gave myself several days of no-thinking before I turned my mind to planning for the new school year.

Actually, there are several things I need to wrap up from the previous school year before I can move forward for real. One major thing is getting the kids' assessments done. I think we will be using Ohio Homeschool Assessments again this year. We did assessments through Becky a few years ago and it was a really positive experience--a learning experience for me as a homeschool mom. If you're in need of an assessor, click on over an give Becky a try. She gives great, thorough feedback!

2014-02-28 13.07.57I've also really been considering stepping up our game a little bit here. I really would like us all to dive into studying Medieval History and since I have the pertinent guides from RC History, it would be a shame for them to just sit on the shelf. I have been making some changes, since I can never, ever seem to use a curriculum as it's written: I've switched out some books (I prefer to use secular texts for the core readings) and have looked up some fun/interesting videos and movies to watch.

I've even started working on a Medieval/Renaissance music history plan to go with the history units. I hope to publish these amendments and lists before we start back to school.

2014-08-07 13.54.57Science is another topic I've been  thinking about a lot recently. I'm torn between using a textbook approach for Biology with supplementary work from Biology Corner, and a more "living books" approach as suggested here and here.  I had come up with a multi-level life science unit for K-8 several years ago, so I might tinker with that and include some high school stuff so we're all on the same page. What I'd really like is a relaxed, meaningful (mindful?) approach that implements a health dose of nature study along with some serious lab work.


And, of course, planning means actually planning...not just thinking about planning! After many years using the Homeschool Tracker Plus software to help keep track of the kids' learning and generate transcripts for those who have moved on to bigger and better things (oh, do I have a story to tell you there...but...wait!), I finally took the plunge and purchased an online membership. It's very similar to using the software (in some ways it's easier), but what I like the most is that the kids will be able to access their assignments online! And if you are assigning things that are online, like YouTube videos or Khan Academy or some other educational website, the links are clickable from the assignment page. No more wasted paper! Hooray!

Preparing for College

As you may know, we now have two high school graduates, which means the next several weeks will be devoted to getting them ready to head off to college. Julia, our oldest, will be starting her junior year at Bowling Green State University. John was supposed to be heading off to play baseball at the University of Akron, but those plans have changed.

We were hit with a devastating blow about two weeks ago. The head coach e-mailed all the parents of the U. of Akron baseball team to say that the president of the college was eliminating its baseball program.  We're still incredulous that a Division I school would pull such a trick. Thankfully as an incoming freshman, our son has had plenty of options. After much consideration, John is going to take advantage of playing JUCO (jr. college/community college) baseball in California. He's flying out to meet with Glendale Community College next week for orientation and to meet with the coaching staff.

As he put it, he wouldn't want to spend the rest of his life wondering "what if" if he didn't take advantage of playing baseball in a warm-weather area. If it doesn't work out for him, he can come back home and start over...but at least he will have tried it. We're praying this whole thing is a blessing in disguise and that God has bigger and better plans for our son! I just could've used a good 6-12 months to wrap my head (and my heart) around a cross-country move. Such an enormous leap of faith for all of us. We are so incredibly thankful to the baseball community who have been so supportive of John through this process. Baseball family ROCKS!

So, I think that pretty much brings you up to date. Baseball is done and we have a few weeks' reprieve before we ship the two young adults out. I'm sure the time will go by in the blink of an eye, just like the past two months have. Hopefully this means I'll be a little more consistent with posting and sharing documents that I have created.

Please remember, that although I don't always post and share here, I do try to peek into the blog's Facebook page a couple of times a week to share new and interesting things relating to homeschooling. Be sure to follow me there!


A Little Bit of Nature Study

The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock is a staple for those who follow the philosophy of Charlotte Mason in home education. Comstock was born in upstate New York and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Since I'm currently nearby in Cooperstown, NY, I couldn't help but think about the author of this most handy resource when I was doing my own informal nature study this morning on the property of the home we're renting for the week. The book, which is probably about 3 inches thick, is also available for viewing online here and there are a number of websites that give guidance in how to implement the book in your homeschool nature studies.  My favorites are the page at Charlotte Mason Help and the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

2015-06-24 11.04.04I grew up in what we called "upstate" NY, but what true upstaters would likely call "downstate." We called it upstate to differentiate from what most people thought of when you say you're from New York: the city. So, we'd clarify with the modifier (often said with indignant emphasis) upstate New York. The emphasis signified that we weren't those city folks, the ones who come up in the fall to clog up the local highways and byways taking photos of the vibrant colored mountains and hills. My childhood consisted of playing in the woods, making up imaginary games where pine needles were spaghetti and pine cones were meatballs, and my house was a lean-to made of fallen tree limbs and hemlock branches. My brother, cousins, and I would forage for wild native treats like woodland strawberries and blackberries. I was even so bold to try the tangy red berries of a sumac tree (which scared my poor mother to pieces, thinking that the local trees with the fuzzy red berries were poison sumac)! And sometimes, in a wild streak of rebellion, we'd take off down to the bottom of our dead end road to the stream that was too close to the highway for our parents' comfort and try our hand at catching fish.  Now, as an adult, I live in a subdivision and my kids are probably more "citified" than I'd prefer them to be. Thankfully, our property is set on 1.5 acres of a nicely wooded lot, with several more unoccupied acres of forest behind us. We also have a creek that borders our property, so the kids at least have a chance to explore a little like I did, without the danger of trespassing.

2015-06-24 11.00.50This rental home set on a wooded hill on Otsego Lake reminds me a lot of my childhood home. I spent the morning identifying several plants and trees that were familiar to me, but whose names had escaped me. Thankfully there are a number of handy smartphone apps that helped with identification while I was out walking. Here you see a collection (r to l) of Eastern Hemlock pinecones (small), mature and immature White Pine cones, and Red Pine cones. (I like the green one, which I found close to the house).

2015-06-24 10.43.55This plant is growing all around the house and I remember it from my childhood. My mom used to call it "skunk cabbage", which always confused me because there was never anything smelly about the plant. I now know she was mistaken in that name. It is actually a giant Burdock plant and this plant's leaves are about 2 feet long! The plant can grow up to a few feet in height and sprout a spiny purple flower (similar in some ways to thistle) which then leaves a burr seedhead.

2015-06-24 10.41.38


The burrs were apparently the inspiration for the manufacture of a popular hook and loop fastener.




2015-06-24 10.50.22

Plants aren't the only things I've identified around here. We have seen these insects on the window screens every morning. I knew they weren't crane flies since I knew they looked like giant mosquitoes.  I suspected that these were the "shad flies" that my uncle used to talk about and my suspicion was confirmed by a quick look up online. They are also known as May Flies.

2015-06-24 09.40.21And of course, I can't forget the chipmunks! They are plentiful on the property and are fun to listen to as the "chip" to one another. Sorry the photo of Mr. Chips here is not very clear. They are hard to catch posing and I was able to get this shot only because I had been sitting on a stump, identifying a plant when I looked up and saw him. We have chipmunks in the greater Cincinnati area, but the only times I see them on our property is when one of the cats has made a kill.


2015-06-23 16.26.29On the baseball front, the 12U Cincy Flames continue to do well. They won all 6 of their regular pool play games, most of which were no-hitter, shut-outs finished in four innings. Our young man hit a homerun during their one night game. The team is the 6 seed heading into the tournament bracket games. With such a high seed, they get 4 "byes" before playing later tonight. The weather has been gorgeous and cool, with the exception of a brief downpour during yesterday afternoon's game. I hope they play well in their bracket, but I'm really looking forward to heading a little south to visit my family for a few days.


Cooperstown (yet again)

2015-06-22 08.01.08Good Morning from the Lake of Shining Waters...

I know, I know. It's name is Otsego Lake and it's nickname around these parts is "Glimmerglass." While "Glimmerglass" is almost an Anne-ish nickname, when I first came to this rental home, all I could think of was "the lake of shining waters"; and so, that is what it will be in my mind. After all, I just recently finished reading the second and third books of the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, so Anne's poetic nickname is fresh in my mind. From where I sit, I can hear blue jays raucously calling to one another from the tall pines above while the chipmunks chip happily in the forest undergrowth below.

I'm here in Cooperstown, NY in the region that is not north enough to be Adirondack and not south enough to be Catskills, but still hilly and beautiful and rustic. It's called the Leatherstocking region (named thus for the leather breeches the frontiersmen in the area wore in the 18th century) and was the home to James Fenimore Cooper, author of Last of the Mohicans.  Cooperstown is probably best known, though, for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

2015-06-19 19.03.27Our reason for being here is definitely baseball-related. In fact, it is our third time to visit the area for strictly baseball reasons. Our 12-year-old son is playing baseball at the Cooperstown Dreams Park, a tournament that is run as a summer camp for around two months, hosting hundreds of teams from across the US and Canada for a week-long run. The teams stay in barracks with their coaches and essentially eat, sleep, and breath baseball 24/7.  For a kid who lives to play baseball, this is a dream come true!

JohnOur oldest son (pictured here, age 13), who is college-baseball-bound this fall, went here in 2007 when they still did a week of 10U baseball, and then again in 2009 as a 12U player. Needless to say, the whole Cooperstown Dreams Park experience has become "old hat" for us as a family, but seeing them play is still as much fun as it was the first time.



2015-06-21 10.58.50Our current 12-year-old's team did very well on their first day of games. They won both games, scored 25 runs--4 of which were hit out of the park--and didn't allow their opponents to score any runs. This has placed them at the top of the standings list after the first day, which likely means there will be a buzz around camp that they are the team to beat. We'll see what today's games have in store for the boys and hope they perform to the best of their abilities.


In our down time we have visited Glimmerglass State Park (which is almost directly across the lake from our rental home) and attempted to find a place to fish. Tomorrow is supposed to be stormy, so the Dreams Park has shifted the game schedule so more games will be played today while the weather is fair. We'll find something touristy to do in our down time tomorrow.

Until then...

2015-06-20 12.49.24 2015-06-20 12.53.25 2015-06-20 13.08.21

Geography Fun (how we do it in our relaxed homeschool)

2015-04-21 14.57.23The high school baseball season has come to an end for us. There were at least two straight weeks where our son was playing games six days straight. Add to that two other boys who play ball, our oldest daughter moving back home for the summer after being at college, doctor and dentist appointments, and sundry other children who needed food, clothing, and loving attention, and you'll understand why blogging once again got pushed to the back burner.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links for which I earn a small commission should you choose to click through and make purchases. Many thanks for that small kindness!



I do!

I think it first started when we took a trip across country when I was in fifth grade to deposit my older brother at college in Utah. I was allowed to use the atlas to figure out where we were going and I perused it often to help pass the time on some very long drives. So, it's no surprise that once we started homeschooling, our first purchases included wall maps and a globe.

Our home has long been a place where geography has been an intriguing subject. However, we have never used a formal curriculum. Instead, we have made geography a staple in our everyday lives, through conversations, living books, home decor, travel to other places, and--above all--play.

Our dining room (that's no longer a dining room) is the place where the maps are hung and where we have several types of globes. It's also where my awesome homemade map table now stands. This table has proven very useful in creating some geography games for the kids. We have had two inspiring geography products for a while now, and I thought they'd lend themselves to some games:

  • Safari World Landmarks TOOB
  • Landmark Flashcards (these were the ones I found at my local Target store in the $1 section. Check there when the back to school sales start coming around. National Geographic also used to sell similar cards as well as Rand-McNally, but all I can find is way overpriced used ones online)

2015-05-19 08.42.05

The first game is setting the TOOB Landmarks on their proper places on the map.

You can see how crowded Europe and Egypt got, as the bulk of this TOOB was European landmarks. If you click on the photo, you'll see the landmarks include Big Ben, Stonehenge, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the Parthenon, the Pyramids at Giza, and the Sphinx.

2015-05-19 08.42.35

The Asian landmarks include the Taj Mahal, Buddha of Lantau, and the Great Wall of China. The set is rounded out with the Easter Island Heads, the Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore.



2015-05-19 08.43.43The other game is a simple matching game where the child matches the TOOB figures to the landmark cards. I'm not sure we have all the cards that match the figures, but most of them do have a card to match.

So, that's it for our map table and the games we play there. However, we have other items that make learning relaxed and fun.

2015-05-19 08.44.27The Geography Shelves

We have a lot of fun items to explore on our geography shelves. They range from Montessori materials to puzzles, books, and games.

The Montessori materials include the following:


We also have a variety of puzzles, games, and books:

 I love the Target $1 bin when the back-to-school sales begin late in summer. I've found all sorts of cool flash cards that can be used for geography games or added to continent boxes (animals of the world, landmarks, etc.). They also sometimes have inexpensive workbooks and wipe-off white board maps to make learning geography low-key and fun. My 10-year old enjoys using the map white board to test her knowledge in state capitals--much easier than erasing a worksheet or a paper map if she makes a mistake!

Making Connections

One very important thing to keep in mind is helping your child make connections. If a country comes up in what you're reading, casually suggest finding that location on the US or World map. I find it's helpful to use the words "I wonder...?" when making the suggestion.

If someone you know is traveling, once again, rely on your handy-dandy map to seek out where they are going to be. My husband travels a lot for work and the kids are constantly looking on the map to see where dad is headed next. My sports enthusiasts use the maps to find the locations for their favorite teams (I'm reminded of Elizabeth Foss' Monday Night Football Geography and Cuisine post).

And, of course, geography goes hand-in-hand with the study of history and humanities. I love the maps from Knowledge Quest, especially the MapTrek series. They are handy downloads that can be printed up at a moment's notice. If you haven't checked the series out, there is a free sample download available.

They also have several curriculum integration guides, so you can see which MapTrek maps can be used alongside your favorite history curriculum (included are Story of the World, A Little History of the World, Ambleside Online and Sonlight. Check back at this blog for a similar integration for those of us who have the older editions of Connecting With History from RC History).

Don't forget about their FREE Globalmania curriculum, a $14.95 value! This is a great way to learn together as a family in a fun and relaxed manner.

Our Favorite Apps

Lest you think we're all about paper and tangible items here in our pursuit of geographic knowledge, we also make use of technology to enhance our learning.

Stack the States

This is a cute app which teaches US geography with trivia about the states. It also uses strategy to stack the state shapes without having them topple over. When you complete a level, you "win" a state that gets placed on your US map. It's very cute.

Stack the Countries

As with Stack the States, you can learn about world geography through trivia and strategy. It too is available for Android, iOS, and Windows.

Both of these games are available in free Lite versions for the iOS platform.

National Geographic GeoBee Challenge

We actually have the board game version of this geography trivia game. The Android version makes it easier to just do the straight trivia, rather than having to keep track of cards and game pieces. Plus, you're able to take it on the road, which isn't easy to do with a board game! Also available for iOS.

Google Earth

Of course, this is a must-have app, available for free for Android, iOS, and Windows. The beauty of Google Earth is that you can explore geography in such a unique way. This product allows you to do fly-overs and see world cities in 3-D. Google Earth also has Street View, which gives you a whole other experience, enabling you to see places in the world you might never get to see in person. I made serious use of Google Maps and Google Earth when planning our trip to Ireland in 2014.



So, there you have it--how we do geography in our home. I hope you find some of these resources useful in your home learning journey.

Do you have other resources you have found helpful?

Any tips you'd like to share? Leave a comment or drop me a line at my Facebook page.

Let's keep the conversation going!


Grassy Run Field Trip

2015-04-24 13.43.14The Grassy Run Rendezvous in Williamsburg, Ohio held their student day today. I was expecting the event to be packed, but we were pleased to share the encampment with a couple of small local Catholic schools and likely a handful of other homeschoolers.

What I love most about these living history encampments is that the folks are really eager to share their knowledge and skills with the patrons. That love of history makes things stick longer in young (and old) minds!

2015-04-24 12.37.22Our first stop was where a lady was spinning wool. She explained to us the process of shearing sheep wool, how lanolin colors the white wool a yellow color, and how it needs to be cleaned and carded. We remembered carding wool from our visit to Sharon Woods Heritage Village and had the chance to do it again. Then she took the wool and showed us how she spins it into yarn on the spinning wheel. AJ was intrigued by how the wheel was threaded so that the yarn could be gathered on the spool.

We then stopped and chatted with a nice gentleman who told us a bit about the Battle of Grassy Run. He also shared a story about Simon Kenton running the gauntlet when captured by the Shawnee. Did you know that after Kenton's death, they had found a couple of indentations in his skull that they think had been caused by being hit with a pipehawk when he ran the gauntlet? Neither did I! Late in his life, old Simon had complained of frequent headaches, which they think was caused by the head wounds he suffered. I don't know if this is a completely true story, but it was interesting nonetheless!

We skipped the table where the school kids were crowded around, testing out writing with a quill and ink. We'll have to try that out here at home instead. We also skipped the tin punching since that was also a favorite of the school groups. We were entertained by a couple of different musicians. One fellow played the penny whistle and explained the lyrics of "Yankee Doodle", most notably what "macaroni" stood for. Another played the hammer dulcimer, which my sixteen-year-old daughter thought was really cool.

2015-04-24 13.05.42The kids also tried their hand at tomahawk throwing. AJ managed to hit the target once, but Liz was frustrated by being, in her opinion, too close to the target to be effective.

We watched many demonstrations and listened to explanations on what a typical 18th century settler would've work and carried with them when they were out hunting. We got to see and even handle a variety of weapons, from tomahawks to flintlock rifles.

2015-04-24 13.24.31 2015-04-24 13.24.31


The kids and I also got to try our hand at weaving after watching a demonstration by the very garrulous and friendly weaver. And a couple even attempted to work together to cut through a piece of wood!


2015-04-24 13.52.28Our last stop of the outing was the rope-maker. His station was crowded when we first came to the event, so we came back around and learned how to make rope. Liz was the anchor, holding the hook that would spin the individual cords into the rope, while AJ turned the crank that wound the cords. Each cord is twisted until it prompts the hook on the opposite end to twist the three cords upon themselves to make the rope. It was pretty cool and we got to keep our rope as a souvenir!


Here is a video clip of the kids working with the rope-maker to show how it's done.




Here are some resources that are good for early Ohio history (some affiliate links):

Homeschool Spring Cleaning

2015-04-20 11.14.35Inspiration hits in unusual ways.

It all started when I was clicking through Bloglovin' and came across this brilliant little post about decoupaging a child's table with vintage children's book images.

"Hey," I thought to myself, "I have a tired old table that could use some rejuvenation!"

I let the idea stew a little. Then I talked about it with a couple of the kids. And then, one afternoon trip to Hobby Lobby sealed the deal. I knew they had paper maps there as well as large bottles of Mod Podge, among other tempting goodies. I don't know what it is about a craft store that makes me go ga-ga. I was good, though; I didn't go overboard. I was a woman on a mission and didn't let myself get distracted by packs of multi-colored permanent markers or lovely watercolor pencils or pretty scrapbook paper (these are seriously things I tend to purchase even though I don't need them...sigh).

Anyway, I jumped right into the project. I mean, how hard can it be? Right? Umm...wrong! If you are considering replicating this genius idea in the photo, be sure to actually research the best way to attack this project so you will spare yourself the grief and frustration that come as wrinkles and bubbles!

So, after letting the map table project relax while I went to Atlanta and back in a 36 hour time span (can you say "rained-out baseball tournament? sigh), I decided to paint the border around the map this morning before going out to an all-girl hair appointment. And, well, once we got back and I was so pleased with the look of the table, I decided it was time to spruce up the room a bit.

Cleaning the Resource Room

I should explain why I call it a resource room. Actually, I still call it the dining room, even though it has never, ever functioned as that kind of room for us! We all know it's the room that we walk through from the kitchen to the den. But for you, dear readers, I am calling it the resource room. Why? It's not a schoolroom, since we learn all over the house. It's the area where the bulk of our resources (besides books, that is) are housed.

Here...have a gander at some BEFORE photos:

20150420_154103 20150420_154103






The photo on the left was taken after I had started moving things around and cleaning. There was a bookshelf against the window by the wall (which you can see in the first photo at the top of the page) that I decided didn't need to be in the room anymore. It now has a new home behind my desk in the den (which is the adjoining room). The bookshelf was holding a lot of early learning materials that we no longer need to have sitting out. I moved those things into a box in the basement...not sure why??? To have around for grandchildren? (shrug) It's still kind of weird to go through certain items and know we won't be using them anymore since our youngest child is seven and reads quite well. Anyway, I digress...

After culling old items, cleaning, and rearranging the shelves, I came up with a happy arrangement to the room:

20150420_175732 20150420_175732


Can you tell I'm a little map-happy? We enjoy geography around here. Maps, globes, geography's all good!

The white shelves all house "centers", or grouped items to invite independent exploration in various subject areas. The geography center is obvious, right? Next to that is science and nature, then math and art. The two small tables are the writing center. There are various papers and writing instruments, including calligraphy pens. There are also lined white boards for penmanship practice and Montessori pink and green spelling cards.

The clock hanging there no longer keeps time very well. It was moved from our living room (and I got a new clock at HL for 50% off on that same trip...BOOYAH!) I figure it can be used to teach telling time with Roman numerals. Or it can just hang there and look pretty.

There are still a couple of areas that need fixing. Next to the entry to the kitchen is a old desk that needs to be repainted. It is where we keep a lot of our craft supplies, but it also tends to be a clutter-catcher, so I need to re-think how we're going to use it. Also, next to the map table is a white shelf that has basket storage cube things that the kids used to use to hold folders, workbooks, and various scraps of papers. They kind of fell into disuse as we changed our approach to learning and record-keeping (I really like binders as well as digital records), so that area will be revamped as well.

Here's one last photo of a spontaneous game that happened with our World Landmarks Toob (affiliate link) on the map table (a certain red-headed child ran away before I could get a picture of her playing):







Field Trips for Spring 2015

Butterfly-6-5-13When we went to the Sharon Woods Heritage Village last month, my ten-year-old daughter admitted that she liked field trips with an "old-timey" theme to them. Needless to say, I've been on the lookout ever since for opportunities that might spark her interest in history even more.

Now that the weather has warmed up some more, we have all be itching to get out and do some things that don't involve baseball.




image from www.grassyrun.orgOne event I've intended to go to for several years is the Grassy Run Heritage Rendezvous. One nice thing about this event is that it is held in our home county, so we don't have that far of a drive. Another nice thing is that they have a school day set aside so that local students can come and learn history in a more hands-on way. Kids will learn about life in 1700's Ohio and will see all sorts of crafts and costumed interpreters taking part in this living history encampment. Living History encampments are pretty cool, as we witnessed when we attended Days of Knights last fall, since the folks all have a passionate interest in their area of expertise.

The school day for this year will be Friday, April 24 from 9am to 3pm. The website doesn't specify if there is a discount on admission for the school day. However, regular admission is $5 for adults (over age 14), and $2 for children between the ages of 6 and 14. The general public can attend on the weekend. All information and directions are at the link above.

On a more personal note, this event is held very close to the area where my father-in-law's ancestors settled in the early 1800s, so I'll be sure to point out the family history connections to the kids.


CatebutterflyWe have gone to the butterfly show at Krohn a few times in the past. I personally love walking into the conservatory that has been turned into a butterfly house and having beautiful insects flitting around me; however, some of the kids are not as fond of the experience as I am.

Cate thoroughly enjoyed the experience a few years ago, so I thought we'd go back this year. The theme this year is Butterflies of the Philippines. The show, which began on April 3 and will go until June 21, is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children over the age of 4. Homeschool groups (of 10 or more) can register online to get a slight discount ($1 off admission for students). However, it might be easier for individual families to download the coupon which gives $1 off any admission and is good for up to four people. Directions and other information can be found at the link at the top of this section.



2013-07-24 20.11.58This weekend I'm heading to Atlanta for a baseball tournament with one of the boys. If we have time between games, I'm hoping to meet up with a homeschooling friend and check out some of the trips suggested by Tricia over at HodgePodge.

We visited Stone Mountain a couple of years ago when we were there for a week-long tournament, so I doubt we'll repeat that. We might hit the World of Coca-Cola since there will only be two of us, or maybe we'll take a gander at one of the many Civil War battlefields in the area. Naturally, this all depends on the game schedule!

Next month we're heading to Grand Park, in Westfield, IN. Many years ago, sometime during our first years of homeschooling, I took the kids to Conner Prairie. This interactive history park is a really cool place to visit and since it's only about twenty minutes from the baseball venue, I am seriously thinking about visiting again. It is kind of spendy at $16 for anyone over age 12, and $11 for kids 2-12. For our family, it would be reasonable to just purchase a family membership. I'm always on the lookout for fun and interesting place to visit when we're on a baseball road trip.

What are some of your favorite places to visit?

Knowledge Quest


I'm please to announce that Seven Times the Fun is now an affiliate for Knowledge QuestFor any purchase made through affiliate links on this blog (or in any downloadable files), I receive a commission.

I've been a fan of Knowledge Quest Map Trek maps for many, many years, since early on in our homeschool journey. Although I'm most familiar with their maps, there are a whole other host of products the company provides to help with your family's study of history and geography.

I just want to say straight out that I've fought with myself long and hard over not "monetizing" this blog. I don't do ads and I don't think I ever will, unless I wholeheartedly believe in the company and the products they are selling. And affiliate partnership is a bit different though. I'm able to choose which companies I want to support and which products I most want to promote on my blog. These companies and resources are ones that I feel have really benefited our homeschooling family and I hope they will benefit yours as well.

So, if you click through and purchase, I thank you for your support.

Homeschool Conventions

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

2015-03-31 10.31.21IT'S SPRING...

which means it is Homeschool Convention Season!

OK, I'll admit it. We've been homeschooling since 2001 and I have yet to attend a homeschool convention. I don't really have a good excuse.  The Midwest Homeschool Convention has been held annually in Cincinnati since as long as I can remember (the first few years we homeschooled, I think it was called the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention). Folks come from different states, traveling hundreds of miles to attend this convention, while I live about thirty-five minutes away.

It doesn't help that they come to Cincinnati right when baseball season has gotten underway. That's usually my excuse. When we were first starting out, of course, all the kids were too young to stay home unattended, and there was no way I was going to cart them all to the convention center. In my mind, there was probably going to be very little yield on that investment. Most of the time, though, I just forgot.

However, this year it seems that the planets have aligned and I have vowed to go. Thursday is the one day where there isn't a baseball game scheduled (although it has been raining all week, so there hasn't been any baseball....well, other than four innings of a varsity game that got called for rain/lightning). It also happens that on Thursday evening, Andrew Kern of CiRCE Institute is giving his "Socratic Teaching" talk. I am, in all honesty, excited!For, while I am dedicated to taking a relaxed approach to learning around here, I think I will always be intrigued by the philosophy of classical education.

Prepare Before You Go

Having read for years that a large homeschool convention can be overwhelming, I have taken the advice to do some preparation before attending. Here are some of the things I did:

  1. See which speakers will be in attendance: It may be there are a bunch of folks you'd like to see speak in person over the course of the convention or there may just be a handful to see on one day. Choose which talks would be the most interesting or helpful to you as a homeschooling parent. Some talks are more parenting- or family-based (time management, etc.) while others are more academic oriented. Decide which type you're most interested in a plan which days and times you'll be likely to sit on talks.
  2. See which exhibitors will be in attendance: Luckily Great Homeschool Conventions publishes a list of exhibitors for each venue. There is quite a lengthy list for the Cincinnati venue (which is the Duke Energy Center). Many people like to attend conventions solely to look at and purchase curriculum and resources (saves on shipping, etc.). GHC sells passes for those who only want to shop. For Thursday evening only, from 6-9pm, patrons will be able to gain entrance into the vendor hall and SHOP FOR FREE! Bonus!
  3. Plot your course: I found the assignment for exhibitor booths as well as a map of the exhibit space floor plan. I also looked up the Duke Energy Convention Center floor plan for the meeting rooms. (Yes, because I'm a crazy planner type who doesn't like surprises.) Then I printed out the floor plans and highlighted the booths I would most like to visit, should I find myself with some time to linger about. I've heard it can be super crowded, and with that offer of three free shopping hours on Thursday, I will definitely need some kind of plan of attack.

So, there you go. I'm going to my first homeschool convention even though I'm not a noob! I'll keep you posted how it went.

High School American History Units, Part 1: Exploration to Reconstruction



I did the editing in stages, so I hope all the links are functioning. The YouTube links are especially tricky, since sometimes a video will be removed and the link will no longer work. If you find a broken link, or a missing video, please shoot me an e-mail or a comment and I will fix it as soon as I can.

I also realize that I jumped the gun in publishing Unit 6 and had forgotten some links for the composers, so I will go back and fix that ASAP. The links are in the PDF, though!

You are free to print this document out for your own use at home, although anything that is a link will only print as blue. You are free to share on your own blog or on social media provided you link directly to the blog post or document and provide appropriate attribution to me. The document can be downloaded via the link below and will also be added to the Downloads page.

Download High School American History part 1