World Geography Through Literature Resources, Part 1

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Happy Mendez Academy Spring Break to all of you! That is the wonderful thing about homeschooling, you can take a Spring Break week WHEN YOU WANT TO. I have been waiting oh so impatiently for it to actually BE SPRING so we can have a real Spring Break! It’s finally sunny and warm-ish enough here, and I plan to spend as much of this week as I can just sitting outdoors! (After doping up on the necessary amount of allergy meds of course.)

I am enjoying this beautiful Sunday afternoon, and decided to catch up on some of my blogging work. And I realized I have over 50 “draft” postings that I started but never completed! Oops. So today, I thought I would get a little bit caught up!

We’ve been “notebooking” our way through World Geography for a semester now, and having THE BEST TIME.  We have just left Europe finally, and will now spend a few weeks studying Russia! I’m not sure how much further we will get before
“school” ends for us for the summer – I really didn’t expect to spend months on Europe. But oh, we have had a blast! Be sure to check out my posts for more details!

If this is something you’re considering as well, I wanted to share with you some “world geography” resources I’ve found that might be helpful! Oh, and FREE (mostly).

First, when we start a new country, I Google it! I can’t imagine homeschooling without the Internet now. For example, I might search by “homeschool unit study”, or “__(country)__ notebooking homeschool”, or  “__(country)__ lapbooking homeschool”. I might throw in the word FREE in there as well. Instant resources right at your fingertips!

And I’ve always loved homeschool bloggers, but now I LOVE homeschool bloggers, because they are so awesome and share everything they do, including their resources! Really, how great is it when others have done all the work and you can just copy it???

Case in point: The Homeschool Helper: New Dimension Media Educational Films on Amazon. We use this resource now ALL THE TIME! Plus, it opened my eyes to the possibilities of resources through Amazon Prime. Which we already pay for, so heck, more FREE homeschool resources! Isn’t that awesome???? And all because of a homeschool blogger sharing!!

Then I check my running book list, put holds on the library books that I need, and then make a trip as soon as they are available to pick them up! While there, I tend to grab a librarian and start asking random questions, or try and track down certain tangents that popped in my head.

For example, we’re beginning to study about Russia. I had made a note to listen to Tchaikovsky months earlier when we got to this unit. He composed many of the most famous classical ballets. My girls are currently taking ballet, and love watching the Barbie movie versions of these. The Russian Ballet is one of the best and most famous in the world. Hmm, wouldn’t it be great if the girls could watch a video of the Russian ballet performing one of these particular ballets? So, I start trying to check resources at the library! Depending on how cool your particular librarians are, they can also be great at suggesting some out-of-the-box resources as well. (Unfortunately in this case, they are not that cool, and also don’t have any videos of the Russian ballet available. Hmmph. I’ll prevail, I just have to look harder elsewhere.)

Can you see why it’s taking us so long to get through World Geography now? I will have to do a bit better at this next year, or we’ll spend the next three/four years trying to complete it!

But in addition to all of that, here are some fabulous world geography-specific resources that I’ve come across as I began to research online resources. I hope it’s helpful!

WORLD GEOGRAPHY RESOURCES
Read Around the World
National Geographic – Countries A-Z
National Geographic Education
“Memphis in May” – Poland Curriculum
A Moment in Our World (Great Country Homeschool Units!)
Worldwide Culture Swap
1+1+1=1 Continent Boxes
Free Geography Resources for Homeschool
Time for Kids: Around the World
Education World: Women’s History Month Lesson Plans and Activities
National Women’s History Museum

Lessons Learned From Past Homeschool Conventions

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32nd_convention_signature_wavesThis is re-posted from previous years, with minor changes.

Here are a few of my lessons learned from attending HEAV’s Homeschool Convention:

1. Pack half of what you need, and then cut that by half. Really.

2. Don’t expect to actually to get anything done afterwards in the evenings in the hotel. You’re going to be brain-dead. Or exhausted from hauling your loads of junk around. So why pack it in the first place? Just leave it all at home.

3. WEAR COMFY SHOES WITH LOTS OF SUPPORT. Trust me, no one here is going to look at your feet and no one will care if your sneakers match your outfit in the least. In fact, they will probably be looking very longingly at your feet, wishing they were wearing comfy sneakers too. And remember, you’re talking of two days of walking around carrying tons of junk.

4. There is a reason that they recommend you bring a cart on wheels. ‘Cause you will be carrying lots of junk. I had one of my Thirty-One Gifts Large Utility Totes, and about killed myself. First of all, because the bag will just hold too much stuff and I am apparently a wimp. But also, because I had it up over my shoulder all day long. Even my “briefcase purse” that I’m using today is tiring. (Gots lots of complements on them though! And being a girl, I did enjoy getting complements on my bags and my purse!)

5. Labels with your contact info. That was recommended on a blog post I read, and I’m so glad I did this. This is great for filling out all those “Enter to Win” forms. Peel, stick, and you’re done. Saves a lot of writers’ cramp.

6. Business cards with contact info on it to share with other people. I learned this eons ago from when I used to go to conferences with another direct-selling company and it was wonderful. However, I was completely SHOCKED at how many people were so surprised when I was able to hand them my contact info after we met. AND, by how many didn’t even offer to reciprocate. Like every single person I met (that wasn’t trying to sell me something in the exhibition hall). No one even offered to write down their email and exchange that.

7. MEET NEW PEOPLE! Don’t only talk to the people you know! Please, please, please, step outside your pretty little comfort zone box and talk to someone new. Because that someone new might have come by herself with two small children, might be new to the area and not know a soul, and might just be STARVING for friendship. Take a chance, and go a step beyond the polite conversation in the Starbucks line! That “nice gal I briefly met” might be a wonderful encouragement to you, or perhaps be your chance to be God’s arms and give her a huge hug after an emotional session!

8. Come ready for God to speak to your heart and stir your soul. Really. PACK KLEENEX PACKETS. Bring extras to share to bless the gal next to you. Bring extra pens to share, and paper (cause I forgot my pad in one session and had to scribble on a scratch paper). Pray for those around you. Look for God working in the room, and offer up prayers and praise in support. And set aside a few minutes of quiet time partway through each  day to just deal with what He is bringing up in your own heart. Trust me, you’re going to need it. And plan some alone time after you get home to just process all that you took in while there. It’s just an overload of stuff.

9. Take copious notes. And then buy the convention recordings.

10. SLEEP. Don’t worry about anything else in the evenings except showering and sleeping. You are going to need the extra sleep to deal with all the emotional energy you are going to be expending. And carting around of stuff like heavy curriculum books and impulse purchases. I wish I was kidding! (Surely, I’ll behave better next year, right? As all this won’t be so new???? Oh well, I can dream.)

11. Check the room before you leave. Have someone else check it, then wait five minutes and check it again. I did all this and still left my nice Tempur-Pedic pillow there. Doh! I was losing things all weekend. I blame it on the sleep deprivation.

12. Take extra bags to bring stuff home in! My Thirty-One Gifts Large Utility Totes came is so handy when it was time to come home! Everything I got – books, brochures, whatever, was easily shoved into one tote, the girls toys and pillows in another, etc. They collapse completely when not using them and take up almost no room. So that’s why I like them. Well, that and they’re cute.

13. Okay, I know I’m supposed to say something about staying on budget, blah blah blah. Coming with your list and your money and sticking to it. Well, I didn’t follow my own advice, so I’m definitely not going to be the one to tell you to! HA! At the very least before you go, make a list of “must haves” and review what you already have so you don’t buy duplicates.

14. Take advantage of the experts there! While there, I was able to sit down and talk to several different ladies about my children and their educational/ developmental needs. I got some fabulous advice and information that really helped me feel like we are now in a position to conquer the dreaded math facts instead of them conquering us! Plus, I talked to several people about missionary work around the world, legislative work at both the state and federal level, and what science kits would be appropriate for our current age levels. Soak up the knowledge of the pros while you can!

15. Use childcare. At the HEAV convention, the “kids room” started at age five, and I didn’t want to split up my girls. Plus, there was absolutely NO WAY I was taking a three year old into lecture hall sessions with me for eight straight hours! That would have been pure torture for both of us. So, I bit the bullet, worked my contact list and found a college student babysitter. My girls were thrilled, and I got to really focus on the task at hand. It was a pretty price to pay, but worth it. I am hoping by next year I have figured out a cheaper option, but for this weekend, it worked out well for us. The moms/parents who were hauling around multiple toddlers and older kids and still trying to listen to the speakers while keeping the rug-rats happy and quiet — I honestly don’t know how they heard or concentrated on a thing. (I am not talking about breastfeeding infants.) I hope that next year HEAV creates a (potty-trained) preschooler room, where at least they can go and play safely, even if the parent has to go with them.

 So there ya’ go. My 15 lessons learned. And now, I am going to go crash in my very own bed and sleep like a rock until the chickadees wake me up at the crack of dawn tomorrow!
 
Convention-Logo-2015-660x660“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

Show me . . . . How/Where You Do Your Devotional Time.!

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For more information about our new “Show Me” Series, go here.
Welcome to our “Show Me” series! Your link-up can be just a picture, or pictures with explanation. Or just explanation if you’re like me when taking the picture and actually getting it uploaded might mean you’d miss out!
The goal of this linkup is fun, though some might have a homeschool bent. If you don’t homeschool, please feel free to participate anyway and show us how that “show me” theme pertains to you and your home! And if we can share some tips and cool brainstorming ideas along the way — EVEN BETTER!

This week’s theme is “Show Me How/Where You Do Your Devotional Time.

 

 

As you can see, I have no picture. Because I am confessing I’ve fallen completely off the devotional time bandwagon.

Part of that is because of adjusting to the move, which I think is finally happening now. (Um, ten months later.) Every move means adjustments to house layouts and to family schedules, which means my how/where much change. What worked at the last place won’t necessarily work here. I’m still trying things, and attempting to find my full groove. Some things are finally starting to click and work well. My devotional time just . . . isn’t.

I know I’m entirely too busy. I have about twenty too many things on my plate. I know I’m not participating in a group Bible study (see above). I haven’t quite found my “tribe” there yet, so to speak, though I’ve not put much effort into it (see beginning of this paragraph). I’ve not even quite found a study that I want to do.

A bigger part is that I’ve been struggling with some stuff spiritually. I’m dealing with things. Don’t worry – there’s nothing that you need to worry about. It’s just . . .  life. It would be so much easier if I really only saw 2 sides -black or white, this way or that. But life is made up of so much more gray murkiness, and right now today in this season of life I’m just trying to feel my way through. I feel like I’m being pulled by the current a bit, rather than swimming it under my own power. Normally, I wouldn’t “settle” for this, but for right now, it’s what I’ve got.

So confessing this to you guys is just as much as about being as truthful and honest with you guys as giving myself a bit of grace. I’ve learned, as my type-A-recovering self, that I have to accept those times where I don’t have it all together. It is what it is.

As long as IT doesn’t stay that way.

 

Be sure to check out some of my friend’s posts!

Amy at Http://homegrownhatfields.wordpress.com
Michelle at http://homeschoolerontheedge.crookers.com/
Kyndra at http://kyndrasteinmann.com

Join us and post your link in the comments! Be sure to check out everyone else’s posts!

Getting Ready for 2015 Homeschool Convention Season #1

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This post is a repeat with minor changes from last year. It’s time for the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) Convention again, and I thought it would be a good idea to re-share my posts to get you ready!!!

The 2015 HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) Convention is coming up soon! Are you guys excited??

And are you registered????? Because registration is open! Clicky Here (And if I were you, I’d go ahead and get that hotel room reserved!)

Reading a post from the 2:1 Conference, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about getting ready for the upcoming homeschool conference.

In previous First Things First posts, I’ve talked about the idea of making sure we put Christ first in everything we do. And I really like the idea of practicing what I preach to my girls as well – if I say I want to put God first in our homeschool life, then just maybe I should start putting him first in my preparation of it as well!

So that’s my challenge for YOU this week. Are you putting God FIRST in your homeschool preparation? Before the research of curriculum choices, before the sorting and organizing for the Used Curriculum Sale, before asking a zillion other homeschool moms their opinions on various programs — Have you put FIRST THINGS FIRST?

Please take some time this week and prepare your heart with God. Spend time getting His input on your children’s education!

After all, who could really know your children better than the Maker and Creator? (1 Peter 4:19)

Who could know what is truly going to up in the next year better than the One who sees all? (Psalm 139:1-5)

Who is the One who holds your kids in the palm of His hand? (John 10:29)

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And pray not only for your children, but what about you? (Oh, and your spouse, of course!)

After all, this is the stereotypical time of the year that you plan for next. And how can you lead unless you yourself are being led by the Commander of the Heavenly Hosts?  (Isaiah 55:4)

Pray that you will continue to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” even before advanced “education.” Beg the One Who Sees All to open your eyes, so that you can see the vision as well, and the road before you.

Ask that He prepare your heart before you arrive, so not only can this (not-so-little) homeschool convention be MORE than just about “school.” May this be a time of rejuvenation, of strengthening, of clarity, of encouragement. Oh, and of fun! Nothing wrong with asking that God help you truly enjoy your time there!

Each week until the HEAV Convention, I’ll be posting more thoughts on getting prepared! Stay tuned!!!

 

“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

Show me . . . . Your Sweetest Easter Memory For This Year!

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For more information about our new “Show Me” Series, go here.
Welcome to our “Show Me” series! Your link-up can be just a picture, or pictures with explanation. Or just explanation if you’re like me when taking the picture and actually getting it uploaded might mean you’d miss out!
The goal of this linkup is fun, though some might have a homeschool bent. If you don’t homeschool, please feel free to participate anyway and show us how that “show me” theme pertains to you and your home! And if we can share some tips and cool brainstorming ideas along the way — EVEN BETTER!

This week’s theme is “Show Me Your Sweetest Easter Memory For This Year!”20150403_185737 This Easter was very near and dear to my heart. It’s the first Easter that my girls are believers. To me, it’s their first “real” Easter. Good Friday took on all new meaning for me.

20150403_190911While we celebrate this day as a solemn, serious occasion, I still see so much love in rejoicing in this event.

20150405_113445I would lay my life down for these girls. Without even thinking about it.

But even laying MY LIFE down for them wouldn’t be enough.

I could be the BESTEST ______, MOST AWESOMEST _____ and I still couldn’t save my own kids. Nothing I could do could ever be enough.

And frankly, for this recovering Type-A overachiever, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

But also so freeing! Because you know what? I don’t have to!

I can relax, because the Lord Jesus loves my kids more than I do. (And I as I tell my girls, that is a whole heck of a lot!) More than I could possibly EVER.

And he loves me too. He saved my kids for me, because He knew I couldn’t.

20150403_191259I can relax. I can rejoice. Because I know He’s got this.

Yes, the crucifixion was an amazingly horrible, painful, and harrowing experience.

But HE DID IT. IT IS FINISHED.

(You know how good it feels to mark something off your to-do list??? Yeah. Think about getting to scratch that off! IT IS FINISHED takes on whole new meaning, doesn’t it?)

As a Good Friday writing exercise, I asked both my girls to write a paragraph about why Good Friday was important, and what this all meant, as if the person they were writing to didn’t know what Easter was. I promised them I would share it here (which they love, by the way. I might have future bloggers on my hands!). These paragraphs are my most special memories from this year. And so, here it is, in their own words. (I did fix the misspellings.)

YOUNGEST: (Age 6)

“Jesus died on the cross. Why? Because He wanted the punishment, to take away everyone’s sins. That is why we celebrate Easter. We collect eggs, but that is not the best part. What is it? Jesus! Jesus is the best part of Easter. It is say that Jesus dies on the cross, but He rose again! After the cross, a friend of Jesus took him into a little cave. And 3 days later, He had risen!”

20150405_113555Oldest: (Age 8)

I am going to tell you why Jesus died on the cross. You know all the bad things we do? They’re called sins. Jesus got nailed on the cross. He did not do anything bad. And it hurt very bad. That is why we celebrate Easter. He died on the cross for our sins. Easter is all about him dying on the cross for our sins.

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Be sure to check out some of my friend’s posts!

Amy at Http://homegrownhatfields.wordpress.com
Michelle at http://homeschoolerontheedge.crookers.com/
Kyndra at http://kyndrasteinmann.com

Join us and post your link in the comments! Be sure to check out everyone else’s posts!

HEAV Convention Wish List Tip!!

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32nd_convention_signature_wavesYou know that list of random, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if I could find ______ at Convention?”

Or while you’re there: “Hmm, I wonder if I should buy this here, order it when I get home, or if my local library has it?”

Let me tell you my new brilliant solution for this: Amazon Wish Lists!!

When I see a blog post (or Pinterest – my newest addition) with lists of books I think would be great for us, or something I think would be useful next year, I send it to my awesome hubby.

He then logs into our local library’s site and searches to see if they have it, or if we can get it through inter-library loan.

He then saves it to one of our Amazon Wish List, so I can find it later. We have several lists we update constantly:

  • “Books for Homeschool” – My running list of books, etc. the library doesn’t carry, but I wish we had.
  • “Gift List Ideas for the Girls” – Also great when grandparents ask me – I don’t have to come up with the ideas off the top of my head, but just have to review the list I’ve been keeping.
  • “Homeschool books at the library” – This is the list I know NOT to buy because I can get it free by checking it out when we need it!

AmazonI also plan to take pictures of my girls’ bookshelves before we go – just to attempt to not duplicate books we already own. We honestly have so many books there is no way I could ever keep up with what’s here.

I really think this is going to make trying to figure out what to buy at Convention so much easier this year! Plus, it’s easily accessible from my phone – as long as I keep it charged up! No more carrying around too full notebooks!

Convention-Logo-2015-660x660“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day!

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Lapbook/Notebooking Resources:
The Homeschool Mom: Ireland
15 Free St. Patrick’s Day Notebooking Pages
Homeschool Share: Ireland Notebook

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We listened to traditional Irish music while working on Irish worksheets. (Check your library’s CD collection! Great stuff to be found there!)

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Look what I found at Costco! We’ll be trying this at dinner tonight!

Books We Found At the Library:

20150317_114213Videos:
Veggie Tales St. Patrick
Vacations Ireland Kids
Kid Irish Dance
10 Facts About Ireland

Show me . . . Your Cure for Cabin Fever!

Tags

For more information about our new “Show Me” Series, go here.
Welcome to our “Show Me” series! Your link-up can be just a picture, or pictures with explanation. Or just explanation if you’re like me when taking the picture and actually getting it uploaded might mean you’d miss out!
The goal of this linkup is fun, though some might have a homeschool bent. If you you don’t homeschool, please feel free to participate anyway and show us how that “show me” theme pertains to you and your home! And if we can share some tips and cool brainstorming ideas along the way — EVEN BETTER!

This week’s theme is “Show me . . . your cure for cabin fever!

My best way to deal with cabin fever is to break up the monotony! Have fun activities to look forward to!

My girls love board games. They don’t even mind “educational” ones!

This is what’s on the schedule for this evening. Brand new!20150317_114704 Our board game stash: 20150317_114723

Be sure to check out some of my friend’s posts!

Amy at Http://homegrownhatfields.wordpress.com
Michelle at http://homeschoolerontheedge.crookers.com/
Kyndra at http://kyndrasteinmann.com

Join us and post your link in the comments! Be sure to check out everyone else’s posts!

Getting Dad Involved in Your Homeschool

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We are blessed with a Homeschool Dad that loves to be involved in our homeschool!

It wasn’t always this way. He wasn’t particularly enthused about homeschooling at first. It took encouragement and enthusiasm from other homeschooling dads before he would agree to us homeschooling at first. Now, he is one of homeschool’s biggest salesmen!

So, how can your homeschool dad be involved in your homeschool? How can you encourage him?

First, make sure he feels welcome! My husband has admitted to me that sometimes he doesn’t feel “needed.” I’ve never intentionally shut him out, but it’s sometimes easy for me to get so absorbed that I didn’t realized he wanted to be included.

Also, don’t only show him  the negative! I know many refer to their homeschool dad as “Principal.” But if all he sees of the homeschool experience is having to be the Enforcer or Disciplinarian, how can he enjoy it?

Here are some of the ways our Homeschool Dad participates:

1. Field Trips  – We try to save as many field trips for family activity time, often on weekends, so hubby can join in.

2. Holidays – We are blessed that hubby gets most federal holidays off. He will join in our regular homeschool activities, and often acts as “substitute teacher” while I take the opportunity to get other things done.

3. Take Over Certain Subjects – Hubby has been great about taking over certain activities and lessons for me. I save up games, science experiments, or various parts of lessons that I haven’t been able to get to. He will do these with the girls on the weekends or evenings.  He also works with them on their Spanish – which is good because being a native speaker, he is much better at it!

4. Evening Reading – We save our larger group reading for right before bedtime. If it is a book that I think he’ll enjoy, Hubby will take over the reading of the nightly chapter. It’s great to get a break sometimes, isn’t it?

5. Extracurriculars – Hubby has been willing to very involved in the girls’ activities. He took over a lot of the carpool duties when we were participating in the Upward Sports program, and now he is actively being my “heavy labor” for our American Heritage Girls troop.

6. Support of Me – Hubby wants me to be sure to mention how a Homeschool Dad’s primary job is to take care of the Homeschool Mom! He’s my sounding board to bounce ideas and issues off of, he’s my encourager and motivator. Be even more importantly, he considers it his job to protect me, even from myself. Maybe even mostly from myself! :) He keeps me going and keeps me from burn out. He sometimes plays “bad cop” when I’m too much of a softie.

7. BRING HIM TO A HOMESCHOOL CONVENTION! – Hubby’s first time at the HEAV Convention in his support and understanding of homeschool. He was so excited to realize that homeschooling didn’t make us “weird,” it made us NORMAL! :)  He came, expecting to just be “supportive” and be there for me, but participating in some of the “Dad” sessions opened his eyes to the great opportunities homeschool provided.

Homeschool is such a wonderful blessing to our entire family. In addition to the “educational side,” it’s truly been a vehicle for our family to spend time together and enjoy each other.

TONIGHT IS THE LAST NIGHT TO SIGN UP FOR THIS HEAV GIVEAWAY!!! DON’T MISS IT!!!!!

Sign up for my HEAV Convention Pass Giveaway!! HEAV’s convention is June 11-13th this year!

HEAV

Yes, you can win a pass so you can attend HEAV’s convention for free! (Leaving more money to spend on stuff! WAHOO!) Optional Programs are not included, and if you have already registered and you win, HEAV will credit you for the amount of the free pass! This giveaway ends March 15 at midnight, so sign up now!

Go to this Rafflecopter giveaway And Good Luck!

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