Getting Ready for a Homeschool Convention #1

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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!!!

Just a FEW Weeks to the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) Convention! Are you guys excited??

And are you registered????? Because registration is now 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 the 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 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!!!

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“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.”

Back in the Saddle, and Back to Blogging

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It’s been a CRAZY year this year. Oh my gosh, HOW INSANE.

And of course, we decided to make it even more insane by putting our girls in Upward Sports this winter. There went our entire Saturday EVERY Saturday, for the past three months.  But they loved it. LOVED it. Sigh. At least it counts as PE, right.

i-KSKRKkD-L???????????????????????????????In the midst of all this, I’ve been working more than should be humanly possible, AND we’ve been trying to crank through as much homeschool as we could. We have a bit of a self-imposed deadline due to our upcoming move this summer – which I really don’t think we’re going to meet. Sigh. I would really love to not have to do homeschool in a hotel room and while dealing with relocating. Might not be possible though.

That truly has been the extent of our lives for the past few months. Not too much exciting to share or report.

Oh, but I have to share this cute picture. Our youngest was reading the story of Joseph in her Bible reader (My Father’s World 1st grade) and drew this picture. Notice she labeled him “Jose.” Ha! #SpanishSpeakersUnite!

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Now that Upward Sports is over, I can try to catch up on all my blogging here, AND start getting ready for our move and for HEAV’s homeschool convention! You’ll be seeing a lot about that in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!

What have we been up to?

Hello! Yes, I’ve been MIA for quite a while, and I apologize! Our 2014 has been quite nutso! I’ve been working a ton, and on top of all that I’ve been trying to crank out (and heck, one day actually finish) several projects for work and get them out of the way before the year got too far gone. Well, they haven’t gone as quickly as I’d like, but I’m making progress.

In fact, I finally finished our taxes TODAY, and so to celebrate I’m working on a few things that I’ve had to put on the back burner. Like posting here!

So, this is how we have spent the first part of our year:

Enjoying the multiple Snowmageddon days. Why do homeschool when everyone else gets days off, right??? And oh, I took my own turn on the sled a couple of times. THAT WAS FUN! I’ve never been on a sled before and I had a blast! (Sanity resumed after a few tries though – I’d be the type who’d break my neck doing this.)???????????????????????????????

We also started the girls in Upward Sports, which has completely killed our Saturdays for three months. They love it though.
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We’re enjoying American Heritage Girls, and our oldest got her first badges and service stars.
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We have been attempting to really focus on our homeschool work and get a lot done while it’s not fun to go outside. Here we are, making the Tower of Babel out of different materials (investigating which tower would be stronger and sturdier)
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And oh, there was MORE snow. This time it almost buried us under.
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Daddy has had quite a few snow days from work, so we really have had more “fun”days than “work” school days, though. Here they are playing Made for Trade. Which is an awesome game if you’re studying the American Colonial time period! (We’re past it, but the girls still want to play it over and over!)
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Our new tradition is to have a family “Valentine’s Day” dinner. It’s always way too expensive to go out on Valentine’s Day, and impossible to find a sitter, so we do a family thing, and then hubby and I go out for a Valentine’s celebration later on. The girls chose the menu this year and chose a “breakfast for dinner” meal. We had scrambled egg muffins (just scrambled eggs with a bunch of stuff thrown in and baked in a muffin pan), french toast, and strawberries. They loved it.
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On President’s Day, we visited Mount Vernon because it was free to the public. And freezing. We didn’t last very long.
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And here we are back at homeschool work again.
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And oh my gosh, there was a break in the snow! We got OUTSIDE!!!!!!
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(Our youngest was collecting things, while the older was running around like a crazy person. Both happy as clams.)
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In February, we were also participated in our homeschool group’s “State Geography Fair” project. Representing the awesome state of Alabama of course!
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So there ya go. That’s why I haven’t been here as much. I wish I could say it was going to slow down soon, but it’s not! Oh well, as soon as I can get the last of these projects off my plate I WILL be here more, posting and writing! I’ve got a mountain of ideas I’m sitting on!

State Geography Fair

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As part of our local homeschool group, us parents are expected to volunteer at least once during the year. So, I decided to organize a “State Geography Fair” for our group. Each family chose a state to learn about and share during the event. This is great fun, educational, and can be as wildly creative as you would like! As a plus, this fits in perfectly with our MFW Adventures study this year – studying US History and Geography!

We chose Alabama, since that is our “home” state.

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Our “Welcome” Table – Decorated with 4th of July Decorations!

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We set out anything USA we might have at home – puzzles, Leapster interactive maps (my favorite), US geography games, etc. These were to entertain kids if they got bored. It worked!

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We made my grandmother’s cornbread (but gluten-free version) complete with a cast-iron skillet, and bacon grease. Needless to say, we didn’t have much left over to take home!

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Our report, and several books from our library

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Our finished display! (The strings are attached to tourist brochures, connected to the cities they go to on the map!)

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Roll Tide, by the way!

 

Organizing this event was super easy. Beyond booking the room, the majority of the work was just keeping track of which family was doing what (trying to avoid duplicates). And sending out an occasional encouraging email to keep them on track. It was great!

Learning Resources and Ideas!

  • Tri-Fold Display Boards – If you want/need these, I found some VERY CHEAP at the Dollar Store!
  • There are tons of ideas you can use to learn about your particular state! The library, Internet, state senators, and more. I’ve seen great items in the Target Dollar Spot section in the past!
  • Maps -  Learn about the topography of the state.
  • Postcards – Perhaps write different people from the state and get them to send you postcards from different areas, telling you about their home town. What’s it like to live there?
  • Flat Stanley – might be a fun project for this!
  • History – Any particularly important historical events connected with the state?
  • Food – Is the state famous for any particular foods?
  • Animals and Plants – What are the state plants or animals?

Here are a few online resources that I have personally found – obviously mine tend to skew toward the elementary years, since that is what I have.

Here are part of the instructions I sent out – perhaps this will help you with ideas for your own group event!

Parents,

Please create a display and have your children ready to talk about the state (in an informal capacity) to those who come around and visit your “booth.” Think colorful, educational, interactive, and fun!
 
You are more than welcome to tailor your child’s educational experience to your child’s age and ability. But also remember that those visiting will be of various ages. Of course we can all learn something from any age group – but it might be a good idea to have your child practice talking about their state before they arrive. Maybe even practice some things that younger/less advanced kids might want to know, verses older/more advanced kids (and adults). Just a thought we wanted to throw out there!
 
If you choose to have a food item to represent your state, please have plenty to share! Please make sure it is labeled carefully with any known allergic ingredients. Also, if you are going to need to plug something in, please let us know WAY in advance, and bring your own power strip. But also know that we can’t necessarily guarantee we can accommodate. We will try! Also, please be responsible for any items you might need to serve that food, plates, napkins, plastic silverware, etc.

Catching Up – What We’ve Been Up to This Fall!

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I wanted to share with you some pictures of what we’ve  been doing this fall!

This year, we’re focusing on American History.

One of our first activities was to create boats and “float” them across “the ocean.” I didn’t really have time for that, so instead, the girls and I made paper boats. And then the girls decided that we MUST have Christopher Columbus on the boat. They refused to believe me that Queen Isabella didn’t join him on the boat (seriously, my girls are going to come up with a princess- theme in everything).

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Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus

When studying colonial America, we made our own Tri-Corner Hats . . .

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Our Tri-Corner Tri-Color Hats!

Then we used our own Qwill Pens to practice signing our names for the Declaration of Independence!

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We also made Hasty Pudding, and decided it’s absolutely revolting.

???????????????????????????????When we have time, we add in music lessons with Mommy. We don’t get to do this as much as I and the girls would like. But here are the girls playing a concert for Daddy on their new recorders. By the way – recorders are not as easy to play as I thought! How many instruments I’ve played, and I think I might have to give myself a few lessons before we attack those again.???????????????????????????????

A Recorder Concert for Daddy Before Bedtime

We also joined American Heritage Girls! We are having a blast with that – the girls are really getting into it.

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We’ve also done quite a few field trips this fall, in addition to our Colonial Williamsburg/Jamestown trip. More on those very soon.

And that’s it so far!

Thanksgiving Curriculum Plans, 2013!

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It’s time to share new Thanksgiving curriculum ideas and resources!

We spent this morning creating our Thanksgiving Tree! Here are pictures from past years:

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This year, I tried to up my game a bit.

???????????????????????????????This is a great way to use up old scrapbooking supplies, by the way! I chose some of my “ugly” scrapbooking paper that was in fall colors, and then pulled out my die-cutting machine. (I have a SLICE. And it’s been a while since I’ve been able to really scrapbook, and had an urge to get crafty.) After cutting out various leaf shapes, I had the girls write things they were thankful for on the back, and then we hung them from the lighting fixture in our dining room.

And voila! a perfect Thanksgiving decoration! We’ll continue to add more in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

If you’d like to use my more low-tech file, please feel free to download them here: Thanksgiving Leaves

The last time I shared Thanksgiving resources was a few years ago, and since my girls have done most of that, and also outgrown some of them, I’ve been collecting new ideas to try! Here are some of my favorites:

Cultivating Thankful Hearts: A FREE Unit Study
http://theroadto31.com/ – several printables and resources
Moccasin Printable
Tiny bow & arrow
Homeschool Share – Native Americans
30 Days of Giving Thanks
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Homeschool Share – Thanksgiving – Pinterest
History of Thanksgiving Unit Study
Scholastic – The First Thanksgiving
3 Dinosaurs Blog – Free Thanksgiving Pack
Gift of Curiosity – Free Thanksgiving Printable Pack
Motherhood on a Dime – Thanksgiving Crafts, Snacks, and Activities for Kids
30 Days of Thanksgiving: Printable Gratitude Journal
Thanksgiving Word Bump
Thanksgiving Finger Puppets

And I wanted to make a special shout-out to this post: 5 Ways to Teach Your Children to Be Givers.

2013 Gratitude Challenge, Day #14

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I am so thankful for my Bible study group.  We came together this year to form one instead of several small groups – the “experienced” ladies, the moms, the singles and the eclectics to jumped from one group to the next. And we’re learning together and supporting each other. It has been an amazing experience to watch the women of our church bond and become a collective unit. I can see how God is forming His women in this Church to become a mighty army for Him.

Last night was especially touching, as one of the most “quietest” members began to share right from her heart about her struggles – and woman after woman stood up to encourage her and just cover her in love. I just stepped back (I’m leading the group right now) and just got out of Jesus’ way and let Him do His work. My co-leader was fretting before class that she wasn’t quite prepared – and afterwards we joked that God didn’t want us teaching that day anyway!

PS. In case you’re curious, we’re doing Priscilla Shirer’s study, Gideon: Your weakness. God’s strength.It’s A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

Join us in the 2013 Gratitude challenge and follow others that are participating HERE.

Jamestown Trip

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While we were visiting Williamsburg, we set aside a day to enjoy Jamestown, which is just down the road. It ended up being one of the highlights of our trip – we absolutely loved it.

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???????????????????????????????During the Homeschool Days, our tickets got us a full family tour of both the settlement, boats, and Powhatan village that was filled with reenactors.

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???????????????????????????????For part of the tour, we were able to go down into replicas of the ships, and had a “sailor” tell us about the voyage.

???????????????????????????????I have to say our favorite part was the Powhatan village and learning about the Native American tribe. Because my girls are into all things “princess,” I jumped on the Pocahontas story.  Yes, they watched the Disney movie – but we also watched “The Making Of” part, which talked about the fact that much of story wasn’t accurate. I also found a biography of Pocahontas in the thrift store, of all places, and we read the “real” story as well.

???????????????????????????????We took classes about the Powhatan tribe – how they lived, what they ate, etc. Here is my oldest dressing up like Pocahontas. You’ll be so pleased to know that they wore very little clothes – in fact the ONLY thing they wore was this “apron.” (This is an adult size apron on a seven year old.) My girls spent weeks afterwards trying to be exhibitionists – after all, if Pocahontas didn’t have to wear clothes, why did they? Sigh. Not exactly the lesson I was hoping for them to take home from this!

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Making rope
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scraping a deer hide

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Scraping out a tree log to make a canoe. My youngest really got into this!

The entire family had a fabulous time, and no one wanted to leave! In fact, after dropping me off at the hotel so I could work that afternoon, hubby took the girls back to enjoy more time there, and check out their museum.

We really could have spent more time there. If you get a chance to go, be sure to take advantage of the tours and classes offered. The volunteers there are wonderful!

Historic Jamestowne
Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center Homeschool Days

Colonial Williamsburg Trip

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???????????????????????????????I wanted to share with you some pictures from our trip to Colonial Williamsburg!

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of Colonial Williamsburg’s Homeschool Days. The prices are SOOO much better, and there are lots of events,activities, and “classes” to participate in. Usually they are twice a year, in September and February/March.

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Forget the doghouse, we’ll just put hubby here!
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the auctioneer

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I apparently was the only one enjoying the auction.

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We loved this because we had just finished reading “Farmer Boy”, about Almanzo Wilder and his oxen.

????????   ???????????????????????????????It was so hot while we were there in September! It easily topped 90 degrees the week we there. We ended up having to buy little hats as souvenirs to help protect our fair skin from the sun. A word of warning – the stuff IN Coloninal Williamsburg is ridiculously expensive. Buy your souvenirs at the tacky souvenir shops in the rest of the city!

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The Wigmaker

One of the “extra” activities we did (for just $5 more) was a “Be a Soldier” session. They learned to march, throw a hatchet, and pitch a tent. Hubby had even more fun than our girls did. (Youngest was being stubborn and refused to participate.)

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Our Oldest with a “Soldier”

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March, 2, 3, 4

Food is very expensive in the park as well. So, to save money, we packed lunches, snacks, and water bottles every day in a backpack. We joked how how you could pick out all the homeschoolers, because they brought their own food. The trick that week was to find a shady place to eat it. This was in the gardens of the Governor’s home and it was one of my favorite spots.???????????????????????????????

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The Williamsburg Bathroom. Chamber pot anyone?

What ended up being some of our favorite activities were the free classes at the Museum! First of all, it was AIR CONDITIONED. I loved it for that alone. But they also offered two free classes each day, and we did quite a few of them. And the ladies who led the classes were so sweet and patient with all the kids.I would HIGHLY recommend taking anything offered at the Museum.

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Creating Our Own Self- Portraits

Our biggest expense in Williamsburg was definitely lodging. For months in advance, I watched Groupon-type offerings, and finally found a fabulous deal at a resort we had stayed at once before. It was a condo-type with a kitchen, which meant we could prep our dinners there. This was important to me since I’m gluten-free – which is sometimes to hard to deal with when traveling. So, we brought several prepped and frozen meals with us, along with breakfast food. When we arrived, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up eggs, milk, and bread. Every morning we stopped for coffee on our way.

We didn’t do much “official” homeschool work that week. I brought some activity pages and colors to occupy the girls at the hotel/condo, but it wasn’t really needed.

Beforehand, we had read some of the American Girl Felicity books, which I highly recommend

So, there ya go. Our trip to Colonial Williamsburg! We spent a week in the area and had a BLAST.

Colonial Williamsburg Educational Site
Colonial Williamsburg Homeschool Days
Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Community

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