Ezra and Nehemiah Bible lesson, and boy is my head spinning

My head is spinning from how much life changes, but we’ll get to that in our wrap-up portion of the week.  This week our Bible lesson has been Ezra and Nehemiah.  I always pair those two in my mind, even though they are two separate books, but they take place at the same time.


Lessons from Ezra

Ezra Bible lesson

Ezra and Nehemiah have very similar themes, God is supreme over all, even foreign kings; stand strong in your faith despite the trials,  follow hard after God.


But Ezra is different from Nehemiah.  If you’re looking at the prophet/priest/king split up of ministry, he is quite clearly the prophet or priest.  Ezra sees what is wrong and guides the people to what is right.  While slogging through all of the names in Ezra it’s a good reminder to see that Ezra kept on going and pointed everyone back to God through every single problem.




Lessons from Nehemiah


Bible lessons from Nehemiah

I like Nehemiah a lot.  He became one of my favorites, even if there’s 4 chapters of names, a few yeas ago.  Nehemiah saw a problem, Jerusalem couldn’t defend itself, and God had put Nehemiah in the right place to solve the problem.  Nehemiah talked to the king and convinced him to fund the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  He is quite clearly a king in the prophet/priest/king split up, planning and solving problems quickly and efficiently.


Many people came up against Nehemiah to stop their work, just as with Ezra, but Nehemiah organized the men to build the walls.  Each person was responsible for a small part, and together they rebuilt the walls in 52 days.  That’s a minor miracle there.  They built with a sword in one hand and a shovel in the other.


Nehemiah Bible lesson

How do you work to defend what you believe in?  Back in the 1990s a movement arose called Promise-Keepers, these were men who said they would keep their promise and would “stand in the gap” to protect their marriage.  I think that’s quite an amazing sentiment, and ever since hearing the phrase “Standing in the gap” I’ve been amused by it.


Ezra and Nehemiah activities


This week has been a little odd, so we didn’t get quite as much done as I’d wanted, and the pictures from this post are actually from last Christmas (we talk about Ezra as part of our Advent activities).


building Nehemiah's walls

My kids’ all time favorite Ezra activities are rebuilding the wall and defending it.  I give them a small section of room (about 3 feet long) and have them try to build a wall 3 cans high, or blocks, your building item of choice.  Meanwhile the other team (Jeff and I, or whoever else is being drafted for the opposing team) tries to steal the wall.  The kids defend with pillows and it’s a big messy fun game.  I haven’t quite figured out how to scale this up to a Sunday School class, it’d be too violent and dangerous right now.


Ezra build a tabernacle

For Ezra we built ourselves a tabernacle out of chairs and blankets.  In the book it says the people celebrated the feast of Tabernacles together, so what better way than to build our own giant tent.  This particular time we did not build a model of the temple, but you could do that also.

Ezra and Nehemiah Bible lesson

Get your own Ezra and Nehemiah lesson here.


Ezra and Nehemiah resources


What have we been up to for the past few weeks?


busy 2 weeks

Well, in the Austin area news.  Jeff and I went to a murder mystery party with a Jan Austen theme, at the end of the night we were quite shocked to learn Jeff’s character (Mr. Bennett) had committed the murder in a fit of anger.  The next day we received news Tara’s Mom had died, so the rest of the week was bouncing back and forth between helping with funeral details, schooling the kids, and replanning our mini-vacation to Houston.  Originally we were going to be gone for the whole weekend and would go to NASA, Battleship Texas, San Jacinto monument, Renaissance Festival, and a quick stop by the beach.  It was going to be a glorious 4 day weekend, but we cut it short to come back for the funeral and help with all the last minute details.


Nasa trip

NASA was everything Batman could have wanted, and it was perfectly timed for Poppins Book Nook on Monday, which is a space theme.  We learned all sorts of amazing things on our trip including a new plan to visit Mars in the upcoming future, that’s our big plan.  Come back Monday to learn all about that fun trip.


Battleship Texas

Friday we climbed all over Battleship Texas for several hours.  It was rife with a chance to learn about history and more importantly to the kids’ mind, a chance to pretend to be sailors.  They climbed all over, tried shooting guns, laid in the beds, pretended to cook.  Generally had a good time.  Jeff also found out about an overnight tour you can take called the “hardhat tour,” which he’s rather curious to try out.


We came back to news of our dog having played chicken with a car and lost.  Thankfully he only had a cut over his eye and some pretty bad bruising.  I’d like to think this taught him a lesson, but the truth is it probably didn’t.  He’s still going to escape if he can.


Saturday was the funeral and it was as well done as a funeral can be.  It was encouraging to hear all of her children and her brothers all say their memories and talk about how much she loved.  It was a great testament of how much you can show God’s love just by your actions and your words.  She always loved you.  I think everyone who went to the service left encouraged and rather sad such a woman had left this world.


I’m still trying to put together my thoughts on homeschooling and grief, put look for a post on that soon, or on the Bright Ideas Press blog (where I write once a month).  I’ll just leave you with this tidbit, Illuminations has been a lifesaver these past few weeks as I’ve dropped everything in my attempt to help Tara through her grief.

How to make a Roman mosaic out of candy

As we moved through history, we paused in our trek through Mystery of History 2 (affiliate link) to learn more about Romans.  There’s a bunch of hands on lessons I wanted the kids to have a chance with, and there was no way we could do that progressing at our normal pace.

Roman mosaic with candy

Side note, you should see how some of my Illuminations (affiliate link) schedules look by the end of the week, I write all sorts of kooky notes on them, and scribble stuff, and draw arrows.

I bring that up because to have room in our schedule, which is all too often packed ridiculously full, I doubled up one week of history to get a bunch done, and crammed in as much of the “book learning” as I could into one week, so we had a glorious week of unplanned awesomeness to do.

But the plague went through our house, that’s another story, but I just wanted to say, that’s the beauty of flexibility in homeschooling.


Back to Roman Mosaics

(I’m talking on Thursday night about teaching active/distracted kids, and you can see why I NEED to know about this topic)

Roman mosaic supplies

I gathered all of the small bits of candy I had to make our mosaics, and plates, because while it would be even cooler mortared onto a sugar cookie, I didn’t want to make cookies right then.

After taunting the kids with all of those little bowls of candy, I hauled them over to the computer to look at pictures of Roman mosaics I took this summer at the Art Institute of Chicago.  If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it.

Roman mosaics

As you can see animals and every day life were a common theme in mosaics.  You can also tell the colors are somewhat washed out, and aren’t as bright as our candy.  From everything I’ve read in their day these were very bright and vibrant colors, if you look at the restoration of some classic Renaissance artwork you can see how colors fade and change through time.

making a Roman mosaic

The kids set to work, and happily built their creations as we talked about what they were building and why they were making those particular mosaics.

Art can be a great glimpse into what you’re kids are thinking and they’re a great time to talk with your kids because everyone is forced to slow down and think about what they’re doing.

Roman mosaic craft

Everyohne’s final product.  The mostly blue one is Superman’s it’s a clone trooper.  The orange and yellow one is mine, it’s a volcano erupting (I had Pompeii in mind).  Princess has the purple one that is a dolphin jumping in the air.  Batman just had fun building a mosaic.

eat the evidence

Of course, you have to eat the evidence, it wouldn’t do for anyone to know, you’d had that much sugar.


linking up to:

History and Geography over at All Things Beautiful (finally got a history post written)


for more Rome ideas check out my Rome to Reformation board.

Follow Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s board Mystery of History 2 on Pinterest.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe book and a movie night

Continuing the grand tradition of Book and a Movie night we read “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,” and then watched the movie.

{All Amazon links are affiliate links, I make a small commission if you purchase from them)

I remember first reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in 4th grade for a school assignment and falling in love with the world behind it.  When I was older and found out C.S. Lewis’ whole worldview and his thought process I loved it even more.

writing reports The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

For this book and a movie the kids all did some research to go with their projects.  Batman decided to learn about World War 2 planes.  Superman wanted to learn about medeival combat, and Princess was going to tell us about mythical creatures, but she changed her plans to acting out the meeting between Mr. Tumnus and Lucy.

act out your favorite part of the book for a report

This is one of our goals for “A Book and a movie,” to go beyond the traditional book report and into different ideas.  So Princess got to act out her favorite scene in the movie using popsicle stick puppets.

research an idea from the book

Superman’s so-called report on medeival weapons turned into acting out the giant battle between the White Queen’s forces and Aslan’s.  Batman’s report on World War 2 planes was quite impressive, but unfortunately there are no pictures of it.  He created some great visuals labeling all of the different parts of the plane and talking through all of it.  Then we got to the watching of the movie and the snacks.  Oh the snacks.

I think the snacks are the kids’ favorite part of our book and a movie night.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Movie Night Snacks

The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe

Instead of completely surprising the kids with our snacks, I’ve started having them help me plan what snacks we might eat for our meals, which has led to some amusing snack ideas, but it worked fairly well for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe snacks weapons

I made pretzel stick weapons using melted chocolate chips to form swords and maces, which disappeared very very quickly.

the lion the witch and the wardrobe movie snacks

We had signs of spring cookies, these are some of our favorite cookies to buy,Maple Leaf Cream cookies (affiliate link), I chose the two box link because we always devour these fairly quickly, so why not buy two boxes at once?

the lion the witch and the wardrobe movie snacks snowSince it being winter was such a major theme of the movie we had to have snow (Mini Marshmallows), which went perfectly with our Hot Cocoa that we kept available.

the lion the witch and the wardrobe movie snacks  turkish delight

And what would a movie night for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe be without Turkish Delight?  While there are dozens of recipes online for it, I knew my baking skills were not up to the task, so I ordered some.  The kids really weren’t sure about it, but gamely gave it a try, and left them mostly untouched.  

Our final snack I have no picture of, we made beaver dams (bird nest cookies, minus the eggs) which the kids whole-heartedly approved of.


More The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe resources

book and movie image

see some other book and movie inspired posts from iHomeschool Network

Teaching the Bible to your kids

Sigh, I had misremembered (yes spell check that is a word) when this was scheduled to publish, and so I was sitting down to work on it this morning, rather than last night.  Tara’s Mom died this weekend and I’ve been in a bit of shock because the news on Friday had been good for a recovery.  I spent last night with Tara, just talking.

Teaching the Bible to your kids

Teaching the Bible to your kids

When they put out a call for chapter contributors and asked what everyone wanted to write about I knew right away I wanted to write about this topic.  I don’t want to share the entire chapter with you, but here’s some great tips to get your started.


Before you teach the Bible to your kids, read it yourself

This doesn’t have to be anything super difficult or hard to figure out, it just has to be you reading the story or topic you’re going to teach your kids, so you’r familiar with it.  Sit down with some paper and take some notes, what are YOUR questions, how might you answer it?

Figure out your goals with your kids?

What are your goals in teaching the Bible to your kids?  Do you want them to know the stories, are you wanting to deepen their faith?


What kind of Bible do you need?  If you haven’t figured that out yet, check out my post: picking a Bible for your kid.


Some tools to help you teach your kids the Bible now

Family Bible study

I’ve spent the last several years publishing Bible stories for families to use, and I’ve almost got the Old Testament done!  I’ve got about 4 more stories to complete it, and it’s DONE!  You can’t see but, I’m dancing right now.

To access those, you can head up to the drop down menu and click on the tab “Bible Curriculum,” from there you’ll see choices by units.  Just to help you out, here are the units:


Moses Unit

Joshua, Judges, and Ruth

1 and 2 Samuel

Kings and Chronicles

Prophets Major and Minor

Advent, pointing Christmas back to Christ

free Bible study printable for kids

As you’ve noticed most of these passages are stories, and a great way to learn from the Old Testament is a character study.  Read about one person from the Bible and write down what you learn about them.  To help you out, I’ve made a simple character study page for you to fill out with your kids.

Studio and Big Book Bundle

This month you can buy the Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas AND the iHomeschool Studio for $15.99 (affiliate link).

BigBook2offpromo 1

If you don’t want both, you can get $2 off JUST the Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas this month.

Big Book Blog Tour Calendar

This month you get to hear from 29 of the authors of chapters in the Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas (affiliate link).

  • October 1 – Heather Woodie from Blog, She Wrote. Author of the chapters Teaching Geography with Geography Quests, Teaching Sewing in Homeschool, and Being a Homeschooling Mentor Rather Than an Instructor.
  • October 2 – Stephanie Harrington from Harrington Harmonies. Author of the chapters Everything You Need to Know About Gardening and You CAN Teach Art. Stephanie will be giving away a Teaching Art Basketful of Goodies.
  • October 3 – Joan Otto from Unschool Rules. Author of the chapter Learning from Video Games. Joan will be giving away a $20 GameStop gift card.
  • October 4 – Mary Prather from Homegrown Learners. Author of the chapter How to Teach with LEGO. Mary will be giving away free LEGO scripture copywork.
  • October 5 – Amy Stults from Milk and Cookies. Author of the chapters Learning with Maps and Genealogy for Kids. Amy will be giving away a copy of WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press.
  • October 6 – Eva Varga from EvaVarga.net. Author of the chapters How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning and Inquiry Science with Middle School Students.Eva will be giving away Getting Started with Inquiry Science.
  • October 7 – Colleen Kessler from Raising Lifelong Learners . Author of the chapter Hands-on Science. Colleen will be giving away Science for Smart Kids: Electricity.
  • October 8 – Sallie Borrink from SallieBorrink.com. Author of the chapters Allowing Play to be Your Child’s Preschool, Parenting a Spirited or Highly-Sensitive Child, and Parenting an Only Child. Sallie will be giving away a $25 shopping spree at Sallie Borrink Learning.
  • October 9 – Karyn Tripp from Teach Beside Me. Author of the chapter Homeschooling with Games. Karyn will be giving away a printable Build a House – Math Bingo Game.
  • October 10 – Selena Robinson from Look, We’re Learning. Author of the chapters Teaching Foreign Language, Active Learning Ideas for Kinesthetic Learners, Using Movies for Learning, How to Add PE to Your Homeschool Day, and Homeschooling Through the Summer. Selena will be giving away We Got Jazz.
  • October 11 – Janine LaTulippe from True Aim Education. Author of the chapters How to Encourage Math Haters, How to Answer the Critics of Homeschooling, and Character Development. Janine will be giving away a Character eBook Set and a Free Character Building Activities printable.
  • October 12 – Marci Goodwin from The Homeschool Scientist. Author of the chapter Nature Study. Marci will be giving away a field guide.
  • October 13 – Jennifer Dunlap from Forever, For Always, No Matter What. Author of the chapters Homeschooling in a Large Family and Homeschooling through a Move. Jennifer will be giving away a couple of Florida learning resources.
  • October 14 – Ticia Messing from Adventures in Mommydom. Author of the chapters Tools to Teach the Bible to Your Kids and Hands-on Learning. Ticia will be giving away an Old Testament Bible study.
  • October 15 – Alicia Hutchinson from Investing Love. Author of the chapters Children’s Literature, Homeschool Conferences, and Unit Studies. Alicia will be giving away Mrs. Hutchinson’s Classroom Guide: Homeschool Basics.
  • October 16 – Michelle Cannon from Heart of Michelle. Author of the chapters Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School, Homeschooling the Child with Bipolar Disorder, and Navigating from High School to College with a Dyslexic Child. Michelle will be giving away a one-hour homeschool consultation.
  • October 17 – Jennifer Janes from Jennifer A. Janes. Author of the chapters Special Needs Homeschooling and 25 Ideas for Ministry and Volunteering in the Community with Kids.
  • October 18 – Renee Brown from Great Peace Academy. Author of the chapters How to Find Resources for Gifted Child Homeschooling, How to Homeschool During Job Loss, and Prioritizing your Marriage While Homeschooling. Renee will be giving away a $25 Amazon card.
  • October 19 – Adelien Tandian from Blessed Learners. Author of the chapters How to Start Research With Your Logic Stage Kids. Adelien will be giving away Basic Science Notebooking Pages and Graphic Organizers.
  • October 20 – Heidi Ciravola from Starts at Eight. Author of the chapters Making Tweens and Teens More Independent Learners and High School Literature. Heidi will be giving away The Ultimate Homeschool Planner and The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens from Apologia.
  • October 21 – Dianna Kennedy from The Kennedy Adventures. Author of the chapters Keeping Babies and Toddlers Occupied While Homeschooling, Managing Extra Curricular Activities and Homeschooling, and Homeschooling While Pregnant. Dianna will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card.
  • October 22 – LaToya Edwards from Learning to Let Him Lead. Author of the chapters Homeschooling Elementary Aged Boys, and Single Parent Homeschooling.
  • October 23 – Carisa Hinson from 1+1+1=1. Author of the chapter Homeschooling Tots. Carisa will be giving away Animal ABCs Bundle.
  • October 24 – Shannen Espelien from Middle Way Mom. Author of the chapters Getting Started with Credit-by-exam, Where to Buy and Sell Used Curriculum, and Transitioning to a Virtual School from Public School.
  • October 25 – Marianne Sunderland from Adundant Life. Author of the chapters Homeschooling Teen Girls, The Power of Interest-led Learning, and Raising Kids With Vision. Marianne will be giving away a DVD/study guide bundle of Intrepid: The Zac Sunderland Story – Part 1, Part 2 and Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story.
  • October 26 – Kyle Suzanne McVay from Aspired Living. Author of the chapter Classical Homeschooling. Kyle will be giving away A Home Educators Guide to Living Math.
  • October 27 – Mama Jenn from Mama Jenn. Author of the chapter Homeschooling Twins. Jenn will be giving away an Education Cubes Set (membership AND cubes/photo blocks).
  • October 28 – Amy Matkovich from A Journey of Purpose. Author of the chapters Making the First Day of Homeschool Special, and How to Make a Homeschool Budget and Stick to it. Amy will be giving away Dave Ramsey?s Total Money Makeover book and The Graduate?s Survival Guide (book and DVD).
  • October 29 – Amy Maze from Living and Learning at Home. Author of the chapter Free eBooks and Audiobooks.

A day in the life of a homeschool family kitchen table

A Day in the Life of a Kitchen Table

Someone made  a comment about what must a day be like for a kitchen table.  Which got me to wondering, what all do we do at our table?

math for a day in the life

Apparently this day we didn’t eat breakfast at the table, or I didn’t take a picture, so our day is starting with math.  We try to do minute math, can you get the 25 problems done in a minute.  When they do, they sign their initials and move on to the another problem.  They really enjoy cleaning the laminated sheets off after the end of the minute.

sometimes life is blurry

As you go through life, sometimes it’s blurry like this photo, and you’re left wondering what just happened here and why does it feel slightly off.

kitchen table getting ready

At the end of math our table is waiting to be cleared before we can continue our day.  So the kids start cleaning it off for our projects and crafts for the day.

day in the life painting

One of our frequent projects is painting peg dolls.  The kids love to paint them for different time periods, characters in books, whatever they like.  Of course quite frequently they just end up looking the same over and over again.

day in the life after craft

At the end our table usually looks like this for a few minutes as they have to immediately add the peg dolls in with their other dolls they’ve made and start playing with them.

lunch is done, day in the life

After some painting, some reading, we eat some lunch, still surrounded by peg dolls.

Day in the life of a kitchen table

Then a new Lego game, LEGO Robo Champ (affiliate link).  We won it in a giveaway a year or two ago and while we really like it, the downside is it’s for 2-3 players, which always leaves someone out.  I’ve thought about making a 4th robot for the game, but haven’t yet.

snack time in our day in the life of a kitchen table

At this point of course we need a snack, this was my brief attempt to make queso not using Velveeta, which didn’t go well.  Or it did the first time I made it, and then the second time it was just weird.  So, my quest continues.

a day in the life of a kitchen table craft center

The table cloth is put back on for the end of the day, debris from random projects gets strewn back over it, and the never ending job of cleaning awaits again.

And thus the kitchen table’s day is done, my pictures are gone, and the kids will be cleaning it yet again.


Now what actually happened for us this week?

crazy life

It’s been a week of sick kids, and hands on learning.  We’ve been working on some fun Roman projects this week.  We made some armor, a shield, and a Roman standard.

Roman armor

Sorry for the picture quality, but this picture was taken while cuddling with a sick kid, who then declared himself to be well about an hour later.  Our Roman soldier is almost completely outfitted, but I’ve got a few more Roman projects up my sleeve.


The most hilarious moment of the week came when Batman held up the cassette tape and said, “Mommy, what is this?”  After I’d stopped laughing I explained what it was and how it was used.  Then he disappeared with it saying it’d be great for his spy gear.


I was writing this while waiting for the kids to come home from breakfast with Jeff, and they’re home now.  We’re going to re-do one of the field trips we missed earlier this week, heading to the children’s museum, as soon as everyone has their lunches made and are dressed, which means I better get busy making my lunch and getting ready for the day before the kids drag me off the computer.


Oops, I didn’t hit publish, that would help a lot for people to read it.

Daniel and the lion’s den activities

Last week we learned about Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and how Daniel gave Nebuchadnezzar some bad news.  Today we finish the life of Daniel with the story of Daniel and the lion’s den.

I have to admit I love this story the most of all of Daniel’s stories, I love the weird dreams, and the fiery furnace, but there’s so much fun to be had with Daniel and the lion’s den, that’s probably why I have so many Daniel and the lion’s den activities.

But before we can get to Daniel and the lion’s den, there’s a brief stop.

The writing on the wall

Before we get to the lion’s den, first Babylon has to fall, and it falls because Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson repeats his mistakes of pride.  He takes the treasures from the temple and uses them for a party.  Daniel has nothing but contempt for this upstart young king, and tells him, his kingdom will fall.  And it does.

writing on the wall

If you’ve got older kids, this would be a great time to start looking at common sayings, “the writing on the wall,” has become a common saying for the end is near, your future is sealed and you are doomed.

I had planned to do a short lesson using invisible ink (were my kids really this young?) or secret messages written in white crayon, but the kids were too excited about Daniel and the lion’s den, so that will have to wait for another time.

My big takeaways from this part of the lesson were remember the lessons of the past, and again to be careful of pride.  On to Daniel and the lion’s den!  ONWARD! (you’re laughing like a madman if you’re a Journeyquest fan)

Daniel and the Lion’s Den activities


After reading and discussing Daniel and the lion’s den we took some time to process what we thought about it by painting the story and our reactions.  Since it’s been a while since we painted the kids were pretty excited about all of this, and happily painted their interpretations of the story and everything that happened.  I also left out some craft supplies and the kids happily worked at making lions.

Daniel and the lion's den craft

We made a couple of different versions of lions, I can’t quite decide if I like the cork Daniel and the lion’s den craft.

Daniel and the lion's den craft

Or the popsicle stick Daniel and the lion’s den craft.  Which do you like better?

Daniel and the lion's den tag game

After that we played a rousing round of Christians and lions, a very silly version of “sharks and minnows,” this picture is from our New Mexico trip, because it’s much more fun to play with large numbers and the pictures are better in that case.

Daniel and the lion's den story and activities

Daniel and the lion’s den resources

And next we are on to the story of Ezekiel.

Why my son decided to learn Chinese for his homeschool foreign language

I had a plan when I started my kids homeschooling, we were going to learn Latin, then when they got older they’d learn Spanish.  Latin is the basis for many other languages and there are so many words in English you can figure out if you know Latin, and it’s great for grammar.

I could list on and on why I planned this.

Foreign language classes for homeschool

Then we started, and it went horribly.  They got parts of it, but I wasn’t consistent, and the kids weren’t super interested.  So Latin fell by the wayside, much to my dismay.

Fast forward a year or so, and my son started Kung Fu.  During class he’d learn a phrase or two of Chinese for the different forms, and fighting styles.  Batman would come home and repeat those words over and over again.

Then we did a report on ancient cities and he chose Beijing, and became fascinated with the culture of China.

 {Disclosure, I received this class for free and was compensated for my time, my opinions are my own}


The he asked to learn Chinese

Following your child's interests

I knew I was sunk.  I can barely manage to pronounce Spanish, my accent is terrible, and I know nothing about Chinese beyond it’s a difficult language to learn.  I had no clue where to go.


Here came Middlebury Interactive for our homeschool foreign language to save the day

online foreign language class

They teach Chinese for me on the computer.  It’s an online foreign language class.

Do you know what a lifesaver this is?  Batman happily goes in and clicks the bookmark on my browser, logs in and completes his lesson.

homeschool foreign language class

He takes notes, and occasionally prints out the pages they tell him to.

He loves owning his Chinese class, he happily goes in and practices the words and writes down the characters.  Most every lesson he calls us in to see a video on Chinese culture or what’s going on.

It’s been a great fit for all of us.

Getting the most out of an online foreign language class


This is our second online class I’ve tried, and I like that this one doesn’t have set times, however it means I have to remember to schedule it in (which I’ll admit I’m bad at).


  1. Set regular times for your class.  You get out of a foreign language what you put into it.
  2. Review the lessons regularly, and check on how your child is doing.  I’ve noticed Batman rushes through lessons at times, it’s good to check how your child is doing.
  3. Look for opportunities to practice what they’ve learned.  Batman is very early in his language acquisition, but if he decided to continue on to level two I plan to find an exchange student to talk with from time to time.  If you don’t use the language you will forget it.

Middlebury is giving away an online foreign language class!

They are generously giving away 10 one semester homeschool foreign language classes.  The winner can choose their language (French, Spanish, German, and Chinese) and level (AP courses are excluded and this is the independent study course).  Since this is an online class, the giveaway is open worldwide!  This is a $119 value per semester!

All entrants email addresses will be given to Middlebury and added to their email list.

Didn’t win Middlebury online foreign language class?  Use the discount code!
Get 10% off your first order using HomeSchoolFirst10 and the great news is this code does not expire.  So, if you’re not ready to start a class yet, pin this post and you can use it when you’re ready.

Want to learn more about Middlebury Interactive?

Join us for a twitter party on Thursday October 9, 9ET and 6PT, there’s some great giveaways planned (I’m certainly going to be there).
check out Middlebury’s facebook page.  They share some great information for learning a second language.

Building rest into your life

I like to say yes when people ask me if I can do something, my default answer is, “Yes, I can help with that.” “Yes, I’d love to come to that.”

Then I look at my calendar and it’s full to the brim and I’m left wondering where the month has gone. I’m learning that does not work long term.

Building rest into your week

Eventually you get tired, you get cranky, and worst of all you start to snap at poor innocent kids who just left out the milk for the thousandth time. Or maybe that’s just me. So, I’m working to say no. And, it’s hard, so very very hard.

But saying no allowed me to be available this past week when Tara’s Mom was hospitalized and have a fairly free schedule when Tara had to fly down at the last minute because it became more serious.


yes he did fall asleep with his feet on the top of the couch, and she is posing for the camera

yes he did fall asleep with his feet on the top of the couch, and she is posing for the camera

I’ve learned you have to build in rest. One of my goals is to keep Thursday afternoons free so the kids can just lay down and rest. Then I can do that.

I need to build in the time to clean. Another item I don’t like to do. Left to myself I let my house deteriorate until it’s terrible and then go on a mad “must clean the house spree,” and make everyone miserable.

That’s my goal for this month to build in times where I don’t worry about optimizing my time, and I don’t worry about getting the last bit of joy out of every moment. My goals to work towards:

  1. One weekend each month does not have something booked. I’m not going to make that in October, but at least October is only one item each weekend, not several.
  2. Keep Thursday afternoons free so the kids can lay down and read, by that point in the week they need a break.
  3. Invite a family over for dinner every couple of weeks so we can practice hospitality.  We’ve become rather insular this past year.
  4. Plan play dates for kids on Sunday afternoons.

You may be wondering what those last two have to do with rest.  I want to build serving others and our kids into how our family recharges and make that important.


As to the rest of our life…

mommy son date for shakes

I took each of my kids out for their first milkshakes these past two weeks.  Apparently I’d never done that before, so they thought it was the coolest thing ever.


volunteering with AHG

We helped clean the church where Princess’ AHG troop meets, which meant there was some 40 girls running around competing for cleaning jobs.

Creating a graffitti wall to enhance learning

We finished reading Ella Enchanted and had our movie night.  We did a “grafitti wall,” where they wrote questions about Ella Enchanted as they were reading it.  I’m thinking we might do that on a more regular basis.  Though a smaller one.  I made this one too big.

clean garage


Our big project these past few weeks has been cleaning out our garage.  It’s been a big huge mess, and we cleaned it all out and then took 3 loads of stuff to Salvation Army.

gaming with friends

We’ve continued our kiddo gaming group.  It’s our boys, and a friend and his son all playing together.  This particular week we had another couple of kids at our house as the kids tried to plan out how to regain the kidnapped kids from the goblins.

planning my knight hoodie

I’ve started planning my knight hoodie.  I’ve got all these great details sketched out and ideas for what I want to do, and then I lost my sketch book, which makes me very sad.  I’m sure it’s around here somewhere, I just need to figure out where.

Nebuchadnezzar statue craft

In actual subject areas, we learned all about Daniel and Neubchadnezzar’s dream, caves, Jerome and the Latin Vulgate, classical India, Mercury, started learning about Venus, and Batman has been busy with his Chinese class (which you’ll hear a bunch more about tomorrow).

Sorry for the all over aspect of this post, but I wanted to get all of my memories together for these past couple of weeks, only to discover my brain is rather disjointed right now with everything I’m trying to keep in my head.  I’ve got plans for a Rome week, field trips to a pumpkin patch, the local kid museum, NASA, the battleship Texas, and the Rennaissance Festival.  Oh, and I’m organizing meals for Tara’s family right now and getting everyone news of what is going on, which is a lot of information to keep straight as Superman tells me sometimes, “IT just feels like my head is too full of knowledge and something is going to fall out.”

Don’t forget the super cool sale for the Book and a Big Idea is going on right now, if you’re not sure what that is, click on the link and find out how you get over 15 hours of listening materials and over 500 pages of great homeschooling ideas.

Let’s pretend I got this out on Friday, okay?  I’d like to pretend I was organized about something this past week.  I completely forgot about a meeting yesterday.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream activities

Actually if you want to get technical, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t have just one dream.  So it shouldn’t be Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream activities, it should be dreams activities, but that sounds weird.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream activities

To read how Daniel’s story starts head to the Fiery Furnace lesson.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream activity 1

Nebuchadnezzar's dream statue

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is one of those passages that Biblical scholars and people who are into prophecy like to read and argue about, I mean my prophets pinterest board is filled with diagrams of this dream.  For the first few parts of the statue there is universal agreement on what each part represents.  Everyone agrees the head is Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, the chest is Persians, the hips and thighs is Greece, and the legs are Rome.  It’s the feet everyone argues over.  Who do they represent?  Has it already happened, will it happen at the end?  Oh the debates.

Nebuchadnezzar statue craft

But for my kids, the fun was all in the making of the statue.  We gathered all our toilet paper rolls and made our own versions, then we rolled a giant stone at them just like happened in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

Nebuchadnezzar's statue game

Eventually it turned into a bowling game, and the kids keep bringing it back up, “we should play the statue game again Mom.”  It’s also a great jumping off point for who that rock is.  It’s generally agreed that rock represents Christ who in the end will reign over all, but it’s fun to talk about.


Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream activity 2

Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream is even stranger, especially because it’s written in first person.  He dreams about a tree, and it being cut down, and then Daniel says, “Bad news king, that tree is you and you’re going to go crazy.”  Then Nebuchadnezzar spends several years as a lunatic behaving like an animal.

It’s weird, and not the fun weird of Revelation that has cool imagery or later chapters of Daniel.  I mean the, “why is this in here?” weird.  But then we reread the passage.

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

And that is why it’s in there.  In the end Nebuchadnezzar realized he was not the most important person or in control of the world.  God is.  That’s what we need to remember through it all.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream snack

To go with this part of the story we had fun making monster face snacks, which really means “tremendously large amounts of sugar snacks.”  Either way the kids were pretty happy about the whole thing.


While all of this discussion of statues and empires is fun, how does it really relate to us?

Why do I care about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream? Either of them?


Both of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams shows God’s sovereignty, and his omniscience.  Only a God who is all-knowing can predict the future.   Only an omnipotent God can bring down the most powerful man and restore him to his place.


We learn much from these dreams about our place in the world.  Just as God showed Job his power when Job complained, so God shows Nebuchadnezzar who HE is when Nebuchadnezzar thought himself bigger than everyone.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream lesson and crafts

Get your own copy of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dreams lesson by clicking here or on the picture up above.

To finish up Daniel’s story head over to Daniel and the Lion’s Den lesson (coming in a few days).

Get all of the Old Testament prophets lessons here.

Saint Francis of Assisi lesson

One of my goals when the kids and I are done going with our Family Bible study curriculum is to learn church history. We’re getting a fair amount of church history through the Mystery of History 2 (and I know from my Illuminations schedule there’s a bunch coming up), but just like always I want to add more.

Saint Francis of Assisi lesson

Especially for church fathers who shaped our view of Christianity like Saint Francis did.  Saint Francis’ birthday is this month, and his feast day is coming up, I figured this would be a great opportunity to learn more about him with the kids.


Who was Saint Francis of Assisi?

Francis was a man who lived during the 12th century AD in Italy.  As a young man he was known for being the life of the party, and always wanting to have fun.  Everyone in Assisi loved Francis because while he wanted to have fun, he was also kind and generous.

One day as a young man he had a vision from God to rebuild the falling church in Assisi.  During this time Francis was disowned, and mocked by the people who understood being kind as Christian charity, but did not understand Francis’ new devotion.

Saint Francis of Assisi quote

Francis would beg for supplies to rebuild the church and help the local leper colony.  He was known for his vow of poverty.  Everything given to Francis was given to others.  He was teased and mocked for wearing a simple brown robe with a rope for his belt.

As word of what Francis was doing spread, he gained his own followers.  Each time he would tell the men to pray about this decision, and if they were sure it was their calling they were to take a vow of poverty and service to the poor.

Eventually Saint Francis led a large group of men, and there was a similar group of women inspired by his actions.


What can we learn from Saint Francis?

Saint Francis lesson

My biggest takeaway from Saint Francis is to love others.  I know that seems simplistic, but it’s a big takeaway.  If you read through the commands in the New Testament over and over again you will see commands to love others.  Serve others, help others.

Saint Francis of Assisi is often quoted as having said, “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary use words.”  But he didn’t say that.  As a matter of fact he would have laughed at the idea of a silent gospel.  He believed before you could preach you must first listen to God, and I think that’s where the misstatement came from the idea of listening.


More Saint Francis resources

 For more history, science, and celebrities born in October check out iHomeschool Networks’ Birthday lessons.

Saint Francis statue picture from here and used under Creative Commons license (text added)

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