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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New SEEDS Family Worship Album! {Giveaway}

Come enter to win a copy of the new SEEDS Family Worship CD-Scripture Memory for the whole family! {The Unlikely Homeschool}

In the words of Mary Poppins, "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! the job's a game."

OK...scratch that last line.

It isn't exactly fun.
If doing a job were always fun, it would be called play, not work.
But the fantastical nanny with "rosy cheeks and everything" did get one thing right when she encouraged the bright-eyed Jane and Michael to clean up the nursery.

The truth is, the blessing of work can certainly be found and appreciated more freely if you sing along to a little bit of music while you do the job...even if your song is slightly off key {ahem!}.

That's why, without fail, every big-family-cleaning session in our home finds us all with dust rags in hand jammin' to our favorite family-friendly worship music.


But, lest you think SEEDS is a sampling of your run-of-the-mill, big-purple-dinosaur-inspired kid songs, let me just set you straight.

This is music with purpose.  This is music with praise.  This is music graced with the very Words of the Gospel.

Seeds Family Worship is a ministry aimed at planting the seeds of God's Truth into the hearts and minds of families...to encourage Scripture memory with the help of a toe-tapping rhythm.

We love all of the SEEDS music that we own and listen to them every chance we can get...in the car, at bedtime, and, of course, during our afternoon cleaning times.  There's no bird tweeting along outside our window, but the music is just as delightful as that of #17 Cherry Tree Lane.

As I've mentioned before, SEEDS music is one of my favorite tools for encouraging Scripture memorization in our home.  And it's not just for kids either.  Recently, when speaking in front of a large group of women, a verse popped into my head that perfectly illustrated the point I was trying to make to the audience. I was able to quote...or more truthfully, slightly sing...the words to 1 John 1:5 with no hesitation.

Why?  Because in letting a song saturate my home with Scripture, I am "hiding God's Word in my heart" and helping my children to do the same.  I am ensuring that when the Enemy and the noise of this world tries to captivate them, my kids can hear God's still small voice of Truth ringing in their minds.

Naturally, I am so excited to announce that Seeds Family Worship has just released a brand new album, The Word of God (vol. 8)! (Can I tell you a little secret?  My Greased Lightning ABSOLUTELY loves Seeds music and will be getting this latest album as his Gift of Myrrh for Christmas.)

Come enter to win a copy of the new SEEDS Family Worship CD-Scripture Memory for the whole family! {The Unlikely Homeschool}

The Word of God, vol. 8

Retails for $12.98
Song titles include the following:
  • The Word of God- Hebrews 4:12
  • Your Life is Hidden- Colossians 3:2-3
  • Impress Them- Deuteronomy 6:4-7
  • Jesus Christ is Lord- Philippians 2:9-11
  • Breathed Out- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Your Word in My Heart- Psalm 119:9-11
  • Do What It Says- James 1:22
  • Genuine- Romans 12:9-10
  • Act Like Men- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
  • A Woman Who Fears the Lord- Proverbs 31:30
  • Your Life is Hidden- Colossians 3:2-3
  • H.E.R.O- Philippians 2:9-11
When you purchase one album, like all other SEEDS albums, you receive TWO!  One to keep and one to give away...so that the Word of God can go forth as seeds to your neighborhood and to all the world.  

Here, have a listen..

Wanna win one?

Now's your chance to grab your very own copy of the The Word of God (vol. 8).  One lucky reader will win!  There are several chances to enter.  Just click on the +sign for every entry you wish to make.

No purchase necessary to win.  Must be 18 years old or older and have a US or Canadian address to enter.  The winners will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter and announced sometime after Wednesday, September 24, 2014.  The winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to respond.  If an email is not provided or the winner does not respond, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be randomly selected.  This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook.

***Mandatory Entry: To enter, be sure to leave a comment in the "comments" section of this post telling me the reference of your favorite Scripture verse and why you think the lovely folks of SEEDS should one day set it to music.  (Remember, simply leaving a comment does not ensure entry. You also have to click the +5 after you have commented.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given a copy of The Word of God, vol. 8 in exchange for my thorough and honest review.  All opinions expressed are completely my own.  I am not responsible if your experiences vary.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Child of the Day: Privilege + Responsibility

While I have no desire to strip my children of their individuality and the very singular love I have for each of them by merging them into a one-size-fits all kind of household, I also know that sewing childhood seeds of privilege and entitlement results in a harvest of selfishness...of an adult who bears the fruits of an unholy trinity: Me, Myself, and I. The balance of privilege and responsibility: Child of the Day {The Unlikely Homeschool}

With a large family, it's easy to slip into the "herd mentality" of doing everything as a group...of lumping all of my children into one big collection and operating with a "if it's good for one, it's good for all" anthem.  

On the other hand, parenting in an era characterized by child-centered homes, I can quickly find myself frittering these few foundational years of childhood away on overindulgence...on building a very me-centered child whose myopic lens only sees their own needs...their own wants.

While I have no desire to strip my children of their individuality and the very singular love I have for each of them by merging them into a one-size-fits all kind of household, I also know that sewing childhood seeds of privilege and entitlement results in a harvest of selfishness...of an adult who bears the fruits of an unholy trinity: Me, Myself, and I.

The balance of privilege and responsibility: Child of the Day {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Over and over again, the examples I see in Scripture are balanced.  
They are patterns of privilege AND responsibility.  
Of blessing AND business.  

Adam who was given a paradise but was entrusted with the responsibility of ruling over it...

Joseph who was elevated to second in command but whose shoulders carried the burden of national survival...

David who was granted the throne but who spent most of his kingship defending the nation of Israel and defeating the enemies of the Lord...

Esther who was chosen but "for such a time as this"...

Paul who was so graciously redeemed and forgiven but later challenged to multiply his "talent" around the world by spreading the Good News. 
And the list goes on. 

Scripture is brimming with stories of men and women who were given great privilege and yet charged with great responsibility.   

Privilege + Responsibility.
It is a coupling seen throughout the ages...one which I think is all too often lost in parenting today.  

The balance of privilege and responsibility: Child of the Day {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Three years ago, in an effort to model our parenting after the many examples of blessing and business we see in the Bible, the Hubs and I assigned "Child of the Day" privileges to each child once a week.  

It was a way to grant some individual attention to each child while still maintaining a God-centered...not child-centered...home.  

Over the years, the "Child of the Day" privileges and responsibilities have ebbed and flowed with the changes of parenting seasons and household needs, but the core purpose has remained the same.  

Since there were five week days and we had four...soon to be five...children at the time, it was quite easy to divvy up a day to each child.  We determined that the day-assignments would remain constant and would be simple for everyone to remember since they were awarded by birth order with the oldest child getting the first day of the week and the youngest getting the last.  


Determining what the "privileges" would be, was the easy part.  These ended up being the "little things" that might seem kind of silly to an adult, but which carry a lot of weight and honor to a child...the ones which can often be argued over and jockeyed for.

Things like...
  • sitting by dad at the dining room table (For whatever reason, no one ever rallies to sit by mom...sigh!)
  • checking the mail each afternoon
  • praying at meal time (While I'm grateful that they are all eager to pray, it can quickly dampen the spirit of prayer when you have two or three people arguing about whose turn it is to pray.)
  • picking the morning Netflix cartoon that they watch while mom reads her Bible for daily devotions
I generally frown on the idea of "taking turns" and making everything "fair" as I don't think it is a concept promoted in the New Testament (Phil. 2:4). In addition, I think that our American parenting mantra of "you have it for five minutes and then let Suzie play with it for five minutes" supports a very close-hearted, tight-fisted view of "stuff".  I never want my children to hold so tightly to their stuff...to their rights...to their turn...that they are not willing to extend it willingly to someone else should God ask them to do so.  

That being said, I also know that most children thrive on routine...on expectations and boundaries. 

By allowing my kids to have the privilege to have a "turn" at all of these "little things" each week, I am establishing a household routine...a rhythm to our week.  And since the weekend days have not been assigned to anyone in particular (except for prayer times-the Hubs and I take our turn to lead the family in prayer on those days), the children still have ample opportunity to practice New Testament "sharing"...the dying to self kind...the relinquishing MY will, MY wants, MY choice kind...the considering the interests of others in order to allow my sibling to sit by dad, check the mail, (fill-in-the-blank) kind.

The balance of privilege and responsibility: Child of the Day {The Unlikely Homeschool}


With all "great" privilege comes great responsibility.  On his/her "day", each of my children have added responsibilities...these are above and beyond their normal household chores.  Since our decision to offer "Child of the Day" privileges stemmed from a desire to celebrate the "individual", we wanted the responsibility portion to foster opportunities for INDIVIDUAL training. Although we hoped this would be a time of character building, we also craved some meaningful one-on-one time with each of our kids...something that is hard to come by in a larger-than-average-sized family.  

The "job description" for the "Child of the Day" can be summed up in one word...SIDEKICK.  

For the entire day, the child shadows me...coming alongside me as I make meals, fold laundry, run errands, etc.  They are my sidekick. If I'm baking, they're kneading dough.  If I'm grocery shopping, they're pushing the cart.  While the word "responsibility" generally evokes thoughts of work and duty, my children are beginning to see that the responsibility...the work and duty...IS the privilege. They all love being the one to crack the eggs or ladle up the soup...ALONE with mom.  And, as an added benefit, they are learning the valuable life skills that can easily slip through the cracks of a momma's busy schedule.

A day of privilege.  A day of responsibility.
A day of parenting with purpose. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

God's Girls Club for Tweens: GLAM Books

God's Girls (Club for Tween Girls) make a GLAM book (God's Love and Adoration for Me) club meeting ideas and format {The Unlikely Homeschool}

For the fifth summer in a row, I set aside time for discipleship...for passing on faith and femininity to my favorite girl.  It's not as if SUMMERtime is the only time I do this.  Summer just brings about a looser schedule and with it, the opportunity to invite a few other young ladies to join us in our fun. It provides moments of intentionality...of purpose.  

This year, Sweetie Pea and I extended an invitation to ANY teen girl who wanted to join us.  I didn't want to limit our group to just our current social circles.  I wanted to open our doors and our hearts to new girls in our church and in our community...girls that needed to connect...girls that needed to know God's love.  And so, we invited ANY and ALL tween girls to join us...or at least as many as would fit in my tiny dining room...that would be seven.

God's Girls (Club for Tween Girls) make a GLAM book (God's Love and Adoration for Me) club meeting ideas and format {The Unlikely Homeschool}

In year's past, our summer club has been a grand affair complete with snacks, decorations, and dress-up.  But, since we currently have our house for sale and need to maintain a certain level of...well...cleanliness...,I knew I needed to keep this year's meetings s.i.m.p.l.e. 


Inspired by a few art journal tutorials I had recently seen, I welcomed the girls over one night a week for a month and a half to create a faith journal that would point them to God and His love for them.  

God's Girls (Club for Tween Girls) make a GLAM book (God's Love and Adoration for Me) club meeting ideas and format {The Unlikely Homeschool}

"Top 3"- Get-to-know you game

Since the majority of the girls had never met, we spent the first few minutes of our first meeting playing a simple mixer called "Top 3".  

Before playing "Top 3"

Prepare a slip of paper for each player.  On the top of each slip of paper write a "Top 3" theme or list suggestion such as "My top 3 favorite books" or "My top 3 favorite things to do in the summer". Then, write the numbers 1-3 in a list format down the left side of the slip of paper.  Each slip should have a different Top 3 theme to it.

To play "Top 3"

Pass out a pen and one Top 3 slip of paper to each player.  Encourage each girl to read her theme and then write down her top 3 items that fit that theme. When everyone has finished writing down their top 3, go around the room and allow everyone to introduce herself and give the answers...and only the answers...to her Top 3.  After a list of Top 3 is given, invite the other girls to guess what they all think the "theme" of the list is.  

Example:  A girl might say, "Hi!  I'm Sarah and my Top 3 are eating a cookie as big as my face, visiting my Aunt in Florida, and winning a new bike in the library reading program."  The other girls might then guess things like "The Top 3 things you dream about doing" or "The Top 3 favorite things about the summer" or "Your Top 3 goals for the upcoming year"  
There really is no winner or looser to this game.  It's just a way to learn a few things about each of the girls in the group and possibly open the door to further conversation.

Typical Meeting Agenda

For the most part, the evening meetings ran like this...

  • We would create one GLAM Book page and embellishments.  Embellishments might include tags, book marks, beaded page dividers.
  • As one section of the page was drying, I would read the week's theme and theme verse and we would discuss them...very informally.  I wanted to guide the conversation, but also allow all the girls to be able to share their thoughts openly.
  • We would add glam (glitter, stickers, jewels, buttons, etc) to the painted or decoupaged page.
  • If the page was dry enough, we would write the week's theme and theme verse onto the page leaving plenty of room for faith journaling later.  If the page was still wet, we would begin the next meeting with this step before moving on to the next page.  

GLAM Books

Using scrapbook paper, paint, stickers, and all kinds of embellishments, we transformed a half dozen board books that I had picked up at our library used book sale into faith journals...or GLAM Books. (In case you're curious, GLAM stands for God's Love and Adoration for Me. Yep...I totally made that up in order to give our faith journals a tweenish name for the club. But it works because it's true!) It is my hope that these books will be filled with verses, prayers, and love letters of thanksgiving to God.  

Each page of the GLAM Books had to be lightly sanded in order to create a matte surface with which to paint or decoupage.  Although some of the girls chose to maintain a continuous color scheme throughout their books, most of the girls opted to make each page unique.  

Should you decide to make a GLAM book of your own, I highly recommend putting a piece of scrap paper under each of the pages you are currently working on so that the paint from your current page does not bleed over the edge and onto your previously create pages.  

There really is no ONE way to make an art journal, and consequently, no ONE way to make a GLAM book...just be sure to add lots of glam!

God's Girls (Club for Tween Girls) make a GLAM book (God's Love and Adoration for Me) club meeting ideas and format {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Weekly Themes and Verses

  1. I am wonderfully made.- Psalm 139:14
  2. God has a plan for me and my life.- Jeremiah 29:11
  3. I cannot be separated from God's love.- Romans 8:35
  4. I belong to God. I am His.- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  5. I am God's workmanship.- Ephesians 2:10
  6. God draws me to Himself.- Jeremiah 31:3

God's Girls (Club for Tween Girls) make a GLAM book (God's Love and Adoration for Me) club meeting ideas and format {The Unlikely Homeschool}

I have no idea HOW God will use our short time together in the lives of these girls.  But, I pray that these GLAM books will be a long-lasting reminder to them of His love and their worth.  

For more information on forming a discipleship club or to see what we've done in previous summers, check out the 2012 God's Girls Club>>

I am so grateful to have had the help of a dear blog reader-turned-friend who graciously volunteered to help me each week.  Sweet friend...you know who you are..., homeschooling may have brought us together, but a love for God and our girls has built a foundation for a friendship that the Author had written long before we ever met.  May we always be iron sharpening iron to each other and to our girls!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

National Museum Day: FREE Admission to Participating Museums!

National Museum Day: Free Admission to participating museums {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Pssst...in case you hadn't heard, Saturday, September 27th, the Smithsonian will be launching their annual Museum Day!  Head on over to Smithsonian.com to download your FREE tickets to any of the participating nation-wide museums.  Not sure if your favorite museum made the cut?  Just enter your zip code on the Search for a Museum page to see what museums in your area qualify for two FREE admission OR use the handy google map to find out locations of participating museums all around the country.

***VERY IMPORTANT- A free admission ticket must be presented for FREE ADMISSION.  Be sure to follow the instructions under the "ticket" tab to print your two free admission tickets.

We'll be heading to a museum on the 27th, will you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

What We're Reading in September 2014

What We're Reading in September 2014 (Homeschool book choices for mom and kids in 6th, 3rd, 2nd, and K) The Unlikely Homeschool

We're back in the saddle again. After a lovely, albeit lightning fast, summer, we are embracing our school day routine once more.  Which means books...books...and lots more books.  Stealing away time to crack open a book in July and August proved to be a bit tricky for some. But, in the land of perpetual cold (Did I mention we live in the land of perpetual cold?), I never feel the least bit guilty setting the books aside to enjoy a day in the sun...those days are so rare 'round here. (This post contains affiliate links.)

Now that we're reading folks again, we've stacked our book bins with the following...

Read Aloud- Everybody

Charlotte's Web- We've read this EVERY-FAMILY-MUST-READ classic once before, but my youngest boys were so young at the time, they don't remember it. After seeing the prize winning pigs at the country fair last month, we were all itchin' to crack it open once again.  It's just T-double E-double R-double I-double F...well, you get the idea!

Jamie- that's me!

Love Idol- Like so many other women, I have spent years seeking the approval of a few overcritical people in my life...approval that, sadly, probably will never come.  This book has been an excellent reminder of how to point my gaze to THE ONE whose approval matters most. 

Power of a Praying Wife- I read this fantastic book a few years ago but am revisiting it for a ladies' Bible study/accountability group that I am in.

Wild at Heart- The Hubs and I are slowly...very slowly...reading through this together when time allows. 

Sweetie Pea- 6th Grade

A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls- (Mom Assigned Book) This is one of four life-skills-type books that I have planned for her to read during the first few months of school. 

The Ark, the Reed, & The Fire Cloud- (Read for fun book) We discovered this new series at our local Christian bookstore.  Each book tells the epic adventure of one of the major stories in the Bible but from the perspective of Max, a Scottish terrier, and Liz, a French black cat.  The books are each well over 400 pages long, so I suspect she might still be reading this one next month.  But, since she says it's fantastic, maybe not.  

Super Boy- 3rd Grade

The Original Boxcar Children- (Mom assigned book) He started this towards the end of August, but due to fun in the sun he hasn't gotten very far in it yet.

Solar Systems- (Read for fun book)

Blonde Warrior- 2nd Grade

Buttons for General Washington- (Mom assigned book) Blonde Warrior loves ANY book about Washington or Lincoln.  So, this book has naturally made a great start to the school year. 

Bats- (Read for fun book) Yep. He wants to read a book about bats.  Fine by me.  Just don't expect me to be peering over his shoulder while he reads it.  

Greased Lightning- Kindergarten

Reading For Fun Enrichment Library- This is a series of emergent readers designed to follow his phonetical progression.

So, that's what we'll be reading at the start of the school year.  How about you?

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Day Traditions (For Homeschool) 2014-2015

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

When blending learning with living, it's easy to just START the year...with no fanfare...with no fuss. But beginnings should always be marked with a bit of pageantry, in my opinion anyway.  To me, a monumental, memory-making first day is the curly-cue flourish on the otherwise straight line of the school year.  

Over the years, I've tried to make each first day a memorable one.  (Yes, EACH!  Around here, we have a first day dedicated to each one of our kids...because doesn't everyone deserve to be celebrated individually? For more on the HOWS and WHYS of our many first days, head here>>)

It took us nearly a whole week, but we've had a very successful start to 2014-2015.  Here's what occupied our days.  

Morning messages

Anytime a day brings celebration, I try to write a personal message to the kids on our bathroom mirror.  Since we only have one bathroom, I know the recipient is sure to see it at the start of the day.  

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

First day photos

A first and last day of school photo has been an annual tradition.  It's a great pictorial timeline of physical changes.

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

School book scavenger hunt

I put together a school book scavenger hunt a few years ago and it has become my kids' favorite first-day pastimes.  Before cracking open their books, they each have to find them.  I start by handing the first-day-kiddo a handwritten clue which leads him/her to a book and another clue.  After racing all around the house, he/she has an armload of books and a smile on his/her face ready to start the year.

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

Board Game with Mom

The first "lesson" of each first day was a favorite board game with mom.  It made for an easy, one-on-one start and a nice transition from the fun of summer to the more-structured days of school.  (In case you are curious...I got beat EVERY day.  Sadly, I didn't even let them win.)

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

Then it was on to a gentle nudge into each of the individual subjects like language and math. Because only one child does school each day throughout the first week of school, we save all of our group subjects like science and history for the second week of school.

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

With its new books and school supplies, the first day(s) of school can feel like Christmas to everyone but the smallest of the family.  I try to make it a point to provide a little bit of "new" for my tot that week as well.  This year, Sweetie Pea made a texture board for The Newbie to enjoy during his moments of tot school.  (For more thoughts on homeschooling with a baby or toddler in the home, head here>>)

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

End-of-the-day accolades

As soon as The Hubs walked in the door from work, I whisked the first-day-kiddo out of the house for a surprise stop at a neighborhood candy shop.  We ended the school day with a little sugar and then came home to tell The Hubs all about it.  The celebration continued over dinner with a meal on the family celebration plate.  

First Day Traditions (for homeschool) 2014-2015

That was how we marked the start of 2014-2015.  

Do you have any special first-day traditions?

I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Lots of changes happenin' in our co-op this year.  

Lots of changes.

But, as with all changes, these alterations bring an element of excitement and anticipation.


Changes in membership

Due to some scheduling conflicts, the Architect's family has opted to step out of co-op...at least for the year.  It was with much sadness that we said goodbye but with hope that we'd still have opportunities to play and learn with them in church and on special field trips.  

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}
A morning trip to the county fair.

With wide open-arms, we welcome a new family into our midst...new to our group, but not new to our homeschooling community.  The Builder's family with their five smiling blondies is such a wonderful addition to our group.  Our kids have already begun to make lasting memories with them as they have joined us for a few summer-time outings.  The Builder is currently running for a State House of Representatives seat.  So, it will be quite an adventurous year for them.  We're honored to come along side them on their journey.

Changes in venue

We had been meeting in the two conference rooms of our local library.  But, it was clear by the end of the last year that we were outgrowing the space and that we needed a more kid-friendly location.

We have made arrangements with a local church to rent a few rooms a few times each month.  God not only provided a wonderful space complete with outdoor play area and nursery, but one that is well-under our original budget plans.  

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Changes in classes 

For the past two years, we have divided our kids into two age groups...BIGS and LITTLES.  The Bigs' class has "traveled the world" with a look at the culture and geography of countries all over the globe; while the Littles have enjoyed a gentle book club of sorts patterned after the ideas found in the Five in a Row resources.

For more information on these two co-op classes, head here>>

This year, however, we will be mixin' it up.  We have divided the year in half and will offer two classes during the first half of the year and one class and one ministry opportunity for the last half of the year.  The Littles will continue with their book club as we feel it makes for a fabulous unit-study approach to group learning.  

Semester 1 Schedule

The Littles (ages 1-6)

Each morning during the first semester, the Littles will head off to the nursery/preschool wing of the church with the Deputy's Wife and the Builder's Wife to participate in their book club. Their room has a half-wall divider in the middle.  The toddlers can play with toys on one side of the wall and the Little learners can sit at a table and do some group learning on the other.  We love this set up because it mimics the learning environment of our homes...kids of all ages learning and playing TOGETHER. The two moms will trade off hosting the club every other time until January. The mom who is not hosting/teaching will be in charge of the toddlers.  (In an upcoming post, I will be sharing the books and themes that the book club will focus on for the year.)

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}
Testing the abilities of three different leavening agents

The Bigs (ages 7-13)

The Bigs will meet each co-op morning in one large room to have a few minutes of "visit" time and then will be randomly divided into two groups.  One group will be with the The Radio Announcer's wife and the other group will begin the day with me.  Since the groups will be divided randomly, the kids will have lots of opportunity to collaborate with different ages and personalities.  Session 1 will last for 45 minutes. Then, we will all come together in a large room for a group snack/visit time which will last for about 15 minutes.  After snack time, the kids will swap.  Whoever started the morning with the Radio Announcer's wife will now be in my group and vice versa.  We, moms, will then repeat our 45 minute morning lesson/activity with our new set of kids.  

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Semester 1 Classes

Group Games

The Radio Announcer's wife will be teaching a class on group games.  These will consist of old table games like Bridge and 500. There were three main reasons we considered when we chose this topic for a class.  
  1. Games challenge critical thinking skills and promote many great character-building opportunities.  Since most of the kids in the BIG group are the first and second borns of their households, they often don't lose at games...when playing with younger siblings.  We wanted to give them an opportunity to play with kids of similar age and ability in order to learn how to win with grace and lose with honor.  
  2. We wanted our kids to learn some long-forgotten games that some of us moms don't even know how to play.
  3. We will be using these SPECIFIC game-playing skills during Semester 2 at our ministry outings.  
Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}
Giving a speech about Ancient Greece

Public Speaking

As a public speaking minor in college, I have learned to loooooove the art of delivering a message with conviction and passion.  I will be introducing gentle activities designed to teach many of the skills necessary to speak effectively and expertly.  (In an upcoming post, I will be including the course outline for this class.  Be sure to watch for that in the near future.)  Our reasons for this class were also three-fold.
  1. As homeschoolers, natural public speaking opportunities are not always easy to come by.  We have to be intentional to provide them and seek them out.  This class will create many occasions for delivering a message to a large group.
  2. I'm a firm believer that what is often mistaken for "shyness" is really just a quiet self-centeredness.  Often times a person slinks away from speaking up because he is more concerned with what others will think of him.  He can not focus on the message he needs to deliver, because he is more concerned with the messenger (himself) and how everyone will be looking at and perceiving him.  As Scripture says, we need to "be ready to answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have." In order to do that, a person needs to care enough about another person...and less about himself...to look an individual in the eye and speak with clarity and boldness.  (Phil. 2:4 "not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.) Obviously, God created different personality types...both introverts and extroverts...but BOTH personalities are encouraged to live without fear and "be ready to answer".  BOTH personalities are not to live in a "spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7) So much of shyness is wrapped in fear.  Is a Christian to live in fear?  I hope to answer this and many more questions in my class.
  3. These will be skills that will definitely come in handy during Semester 2 at our ministry outings.  

Semester 2 Schedule

The Littles

For semester 2, the basic format of the Book Club will remain the same.  The only significant change will be that The Announcer's Wife and I will take over hosting responsibilities.  

The Bigs

The second semester will be divided in half.  The first half will find the entire group of Big kids heading out on a morning ministry field trip to a local nursing home.  For the second half of the semester, they will return to a large room of the church to have one large collaborative class.

Homeschool Co-op Class Plans 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}
A double-edged labrys from Grecian history

Semester 2 Classes

Adopt a Grandparent

The Builder's Wife has connected with a local nursing home to create an adopt-a-grandparent program for our kids.  They will each be assigned one elderly resident that they will continue with for the duration of the semester.  Each morning, our group will meet our "grandparents" in a large community room and spend a few hours chatting with them and playing table games together...the same two skills learned in Semester 1.  We hope that by the end of this time, they will have learned enough about their "grandparent" to complete the first project in the second class of the semester. 

Make It!

The Deputy's Wife has created a list of projects which will require both individual effort as well as group collaboration. Each class period, which will last for the entire morning, she will assign a different project or projects that the children will have to create/develop.  She will give a few basic guidelines and suggestions, assign partners/groups (if applicable), spread out an assortment of supplies, and say "Go!" The kids will, for the most part, be on their own to problem solve, design, and communicate to complete the day's task. The first assignment will be to create a biographical time line of their "grandparent's" life span in comparison to historical events that took place during their lifetime.  Other projects might include the following: build a rocket and make your own board game.  (I will be sure to include the full list of projects in an upcoming post.)

A year of collaborative learning!

The people, venue, and classes might look a little different, but the point is still the same...to live and learn together all for the glory of God!

Looking for tips to start your own cooperative adventure?  Be sure to check out my tips for launching a successful homeschool co-op>>

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum 2014-2015

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum 2014-2015 {The Unlikely Homeschool}

He's in kindergarten.  


Truthfully, I really don't think he knows what "kindergarten" actually means.  We don't focus on grade levels 'round here.  We're more of the "learning-for-life" kinda folks.  But, he's heard the word and he knows it somehow EQUALS his school year.  

Like anything shrouded with an element of mystery, kindergarten has him excited!  And how can it not?  This foreign word, "kindergarten" has brought him congratulatory cards in the mail, many awkward thumb's ups from the ladies behind the registers of the grocery store, and a high-five from his Sunday school teacher at church.  

Kindergarten is a BIG deal, he's surmised.  It must be...everyone keeps telling him so.  

In truth, it is.  The tears welling up in my eyes as I write this remind me of that fact.  Kindergarten is a man-made bridge from one stage of learning into the next...or so they say.  Because learning has been a regular part of our family culture since as long as he can remember AND since he has been crawling up to the school table since the first day he could take two wobbly steps on his chubby tot feet, I'm sure he would conclude that THIS year will feel no different than any other year.  

But, whether it is, in fact, the START of something or (as I see it) the natural CONTINUATION of something that started five years ago when he opened his eyes to the world and began learning and growing, it IS a big deal.  

I hope to make it one, for his sake, anyway.

Here's what he'll be learning.

Content-rich subjects

Despite the fact that he is several years behind his older siblings, he will take a spot next to them on the couch each day for our content-rich subjects like science and history and certain subjective subjects like art and creative writing.  Naturally, his learning in these areas will be more gentle...age appropriate...but no less enriching than that of his brothers and sister.  You will find more specific details and resource lists for these subjects here>>

Personal devotions

Since his reading ability is somewhat limited at this point, his personal devotions will be done in partnership with all the READERS in the house.  Like last year, the four older kids and I will each take turns reading him a story out of his Bible each day.  This not only helps to establish the personal habit of starting his day in God's Word, but it also affords the older children an opportunity to minister to and encourage him.  




Extra Curriculars

  • help make lunch and dinner one day each week
  • co-op (2x a month)
  • Can You Find Me?- This year, our official "critical thinking" resources are a big question mark. With the addition of a new history curriculum...one that is much more time consuming than we are use to...I don't know if we will have the time.  There are only so many hours in the day.  My plan is to start the school year WITHOUT an official "critical thinking" time each week and weave it in later if time and sanity allow.  

So, that's what the monumental year of kindergarten will look like for him. 
Lots of learning.  
Because it's a big deal.


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