Friday, November 18, 2011

The Holiday's = Family, Fun and Good Movies!

I love love love to watch a good movie over the holidays. In fact, I can't wait till the day AFTER Thanksgiving so that I can sit home all day wearing my PJ's, eating leftover turkey, mayo and toast sandwiches with a side of yams and mashed potatoes watching a good movie. I'll take a break, play some games with the kids, make another sandwich for dinner and watch another movie. It is my free pass to just enjoy the day. So in case this may be your plan as well I am here to share some of my favorites.

Movies from the 40's:
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • White Christmas
  • Meet Me in St. Louis

Movies from the 70's & 80's (my childhood)
  • Star Wars
  • E.T.
  • Princess Bride
  • Ann of Green Gables
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Sixteen Candles

Movies that made me LAUGH!:
  • First Wives Club
  • The Lost Boys
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • Father of the Bride

Historical or Historical Fiction:
  • Into the West
  • The Patriot
  • Braveheart
  • Amadeus
  • Lady Jane
  • Wives and Daughters
  • North & South (BBC)

  • Jane Eyre BBC
  • Pride & Prejudice BBC
  • The Notebook
  • Far and Away

Sci-Fi or Fantasy:
  • Harry Potter (all of them)
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • I am Legend
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Contact
  • War of the Worlds

Kid / Family Films:
  • Tangled
  • Finding Nemo
  • Barbie Princess and the Pauper
  • National Treasure
  • Joseph, King of Dreams
  • Prince of Egypt
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • Stranded
  • Tuck Everlasting

Action Adventure or Thriller:
  • The Village
  • Signs
  • Count of Monte Cristo
  • Mission Impossible
  • Minority Report

  • Sound of Music
  • Mary Poppins
  • My Fair Lady

Heart Strings:
  • Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine
  • A Walk to Remember
  • Rocky 1-5
  • Eight Below

Monday, November 14, 2011

Movies, Movies, Movies

I love movies. I have ever since we bought our first VCR and our first VHS movie (Dirty Dancing, ugg I hate to admit that) that I watched 37 times before we got a Video Connection membership and could expand our repertoire.

I really love to use movies in my homeschool. Right now my oldest daughter is at an age that I can show her more mature films and it has been a lot of fun. She is studying the 1960's and 1970's right now in history and last week she watched:
West Side Story

She has been singing the songs all week. Here is one of her favorites:

She has been learning about the Space Race for a few weeks now and so I thought it was a good time to include Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. Watching movies about real events can really bring the topic the kids are reading about alive. They begin to feel connected to the people and events that took place. 

Apollo 13

We have also been learning about the Civil Rights Movement. For my younger kids, I showed them films about Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and the movie Selma, Lord Selma. My oldest has already seen these films so I decided to show her Remember the Titans. It is true story about a newly appointed African American football coach and his first season working with a racially integrated team. It is an excellent film and I am excited to share it with her.

Remember the Titans

I stumbled upon this film years ago and was drawn in by the amazing story line and excellent acting. We may not get to see this one because of time, but I wanted to mention it here in case it is something you may want to check out. 

The Right Stuff is a 1983 American film adapted fromTom Wolfe's 1979 book The Right Stuff about the test pilots  who were involved in high-speed aeronautical research at Edwards Air Force Base as well as those selected to be astronauts for Project Mercury, the United States first attempt at manned spaceflight. 

The Right Stuff

And a documentary: The surviving crew members from NASA's Apollo missions tell their story in their own words.

In the Shadow of the Moon

For my younger ones, we are going to reinforce their literature by watching the 1969 movie My Side of the Mountain based on the book of the same name that I am currently reading aloud. It is a wonderful story about a boy who is enchanted with nature and takes off to live on his family mountain alone with nothing but the clothes on his back. It tells all sorts of wonderful details about how he survives. I found this online pdf discussion and activity guide to add some interest.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our Homeschool

This year for the first time ever, I am homeschooling all 5 of my children. They have all always been homeschooled, but it was this year that I added my son who started kindergarten. I have to say that it has been just the last few years that I feel like I really know what works for my family and how to structure my days. It was a real struggle in the past to find curriculum that would mesh with my love for the ideas of Charlotte Mason and artistic nature and my need just get it done each day.  I wanted everything to be beautiful and hands on but sometimes you have to get more of a mix in order to have balance in your homeschool.

In future posts, I plan to share more about each of the programs I am currently using but for now, I'll just share what we are doing for the 2011-2012 school year followed by how long we have been using the program. It is important to know how long a person is using something in order to know if they have gotten over the "everything is beautiful and perfect" stage of the new materials.

Kindergarten - My son is using these materials. He turned 5 in April 2011 and had not had any formal schooling prior to starting this year. He has done very well with the material and is flying through the math.

My next two daughters are ages 8 & 11. They are what I consider 3rd and 5th grades. I teach them both at the same time but on their own levels. 

Christian Light of course!   (2 years)

Language Arts 
Writing With Ease   (1 year)

History - Geography - Literature - Writing - Fine Arts
Tapestry of Grace - Currently on Year 4 Unit 4 (3 years)


My 14 year old daughter works mostly independently so she has her own program that works wonderfully for her. I am especially excited about this years program as Carrie Austen has done a fantastic job pulling together some amazing resources. She is able to schedule each day so that so much gets accomplished yet you don't feel overwhelmed. I am looking forward to using this program with my younger girls when they are a little older. My 14 year old has used Heart of Dakota for the last 3 years.

Main Program
Heart of Dakota Hearts for Him Through Time: Revival to Revolution
This includes History, Literature, Poetry, Language Arts, Geography, Government, Science, Bible, Art and Music. It also includes Math but we use Christian Light for that. I also added in Vocabulary from Classical Roots.

My oldest daughter (age 17) uses:

  • Tapestry of Grace (History, Literature, Geography, Music, Art) 
  • Apologia Science    (4 years)
  • Rod and Staff Grammar
  • Vocabulary from Classical Roots    (1 year)
  • Christian Light Math. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Learning through Memory Work

This year I have instituted a morning ritual that I call "Morning Meeting". It is during these meetings that we work on:

Memorizing Bible Passages: We do this by starting with the reciting the first verse several times. Then we add to it each day. Eventually we recite the entire passage beginning to end.

Bible Catechism: We are using Training Hearts and Teaching Minds by Starr Meade. It has a weekly question and answer to memorize. Then a short bible study that reinforces each question.

Presidents Song: Found on YouTube

Skip Counting Songs: My own creation. Here is an example. You can find more of my videos by clicking on My Video's up top.

Finally, we have a theme of the day:

New's Day: I share a news article for the Sunday Paper
Show & Tell: This gives them a chance to show their siblings school work or projects they have been working on. 
President's Facts Day: I want them to learn about the President's they are memorizing
Character Trait Day: I reinforce this with a Bible verse. 
Recitation Day: This gives them a chance to recite the memory work by themselves and show what they know. 

Now that I have told you all about it, I am motivated to get back to it. We did this for the first two months of school and then I let life get in the way. I could really see the benefit to these short morning meetings. My kids were really using the math they were learning from the videos and scripture is always a good thing. How do you incorporate memory work into your school day?

Review: Christian Light Math


I have homeschooled now for over 11 years. I currently homeschool ages 5, 8, 11, 14 & 17. I have looked at and used nearly every math program out there. You see, we are not a very mathy family. I kept changing because my kids wouldn't get it and I wouldn't know how to explain it to them so it made sense. I understood what it wanted them to do, but I couldn't teach it.

This led to several of my children falling behind in this one area. I just didn't know what to do. Then about 2 years ago I came across Christian Light Math. I liked the idea of a program that taught the child their mathematics since this was my weakness. We had tried Teaching Textbooks but the cost was extremely high and the concepts were not reviewed enough to stick.

So I decided to go ahead and give Christian Light a chance. I ordered it first only for my two youngest daughters. They both had only worked in RightStart Math up to this point and I was struggling to make this very teacher intensive program work each day. I also felt they needed a more traditional math program for all of sanity.

I noticed right away that Christian Light had a real flow to it. Start off going over the new concepts, take a speed drill and then the child worked on her own in the "We Remember" section. My slightly older daughter caught on faster than her younger sister so I decided to accelerate her. Christian Light is made up of a series of 10 books per grade level. Each book has a final Light Unit test. I gave these Light Unit tests to my daughter and if she passed, she was able to skip that book.

I realized that this program was what I had been looking for. Not only did it take a lot of the work off of me, but it also taught the concepts logically and layer upon layer. My daughters were getting it and so was I! CLP was teaching me how to teach!

I decided right then to have my two oldest daughters take the placement tests and get them started in it as well. They both have flourished with the program and have been taking an accelerated path by completing two lessons per day. Since they are older, the lessons are completely self-taught. They even grade their daily work by looking at the teacher guide which has copies of their workbook pages with the full solution to each and every problem. I grade their two quizzes and Light Unit test each book just to be sure they are grasping the concepts. Very rarely do they need to come to me because everything is explained so well, but when that does occasionally happen it is easily worked out.

I honestly feel that every homeschooler should consider Christian Light Math because it has changed my homeschool and my children. They enjoy math for the first time and they know math now. Oh, and the price. It is only around $33.00 per year for the workbooks and the TM are around $9-$15. You can't beat that!

You can see more at

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

This is so good, just make sure you bake it fully for tender broccoli.

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 stick butter
14 ounce bag frozen broccoli florets
2 Cups Minute Rice
2 Cups Water
10-12 Slices of American Cheese (Can be 2%)
1 Cup Milk
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.) Melt Butter in the pan, add onions. Once they have cooked for a bit add the broccoli. Cook over low till the broccoli is no longer frozen.

3.) While Broccoli is cooking, mix the Minute Rice and Water in a glass bowl. Place in microwave and cover. Cook according to package directions.

4.) Combine Broccoli Mixture, Cooked Rice, American Cheese, Milk and Cream of Chicken in a bowl. Mix well.

5.) Pour into 9x13 casserole dish. (do not cover) Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until top is slightly browned and sauce is bubbly.

Cheesy Potato Soup

I cannot say enough good things about this soup! It is easy to make and my kids LOVE it which is saying a lot.

4-4 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
1 -2 cup ham, diced and cooked
3 1/4 cups water
3 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
1/2 teaspoon salt ( to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine potatoes, onion, ham, and water in stockpot and bring to boil.
1.) Then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper.

2.) In separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook stirring constantly until thick.

3.) Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form and all milk is added. Continue to stir until thick (4-5 minutes)

4.)Add in cheese and stir until melted.

5.)Stir the cheese mixture into the stockpot and cook until heated through. (I also will break up some of the potatoes for thickness. It gets thicker as it cools and next day).