Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas Tour

Big Book of Ideas Final Cover 3D

Over the next few weeks many of the ladies from iHomeschool Network will be getting together and sharing something from our chapter in the “Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas,” and I’m super excited to read their posts.

If you haven’t heard, the “Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas” is 100 chapters of ideas on homeschooling your kids.

I wrote two of the chapters: Hands on Homeschooling, teaching the Bible to your kids.  In a few weeks when it’s my turn, I’m going to be writing about teaching the Bible to your kids along with a free printable.  I’m also hoping by then to have ALMOST all of the Old Testament up to share with ya’ll.

Studio and Big Book Bundle


If you haven’t heard yet the Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas is an awesome resource and for this month only it’s paired with iHomeschool Studio (over 20 mp3’s on homeschooling, I’m still listening through this) for $15!  That’s a great deal.


Big Book Blog Tour Calendar

  • 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 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 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.

Using picture books to teach writing

Several years ago I mentioned using picture books to teach writing, but I wanted to show you a specific lesson so you can better understand the why’s and how’s of using picture books this way.  And since the theme for Poppin’s Book Nook this month is Wild, Wild West I decided to use some fractured fairy tales to teach this lesson.

using picture books to teach writing

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}


Several years ago I took a class called “6 Traits +1 Writing,” it was all the rage for teaching kids to write, and they emphasized using picture books to illustrate different writing techniques.  Today, we’re going to look at how Jack and the Giant: A Story Full of Beans (affiliate link) uses “Voice” to help us understand the story better.


 Setting up using picture books to teach writing

When you do this type of activity you don’t want to just read the book and then say, “All right, what did the author do?”  You’re only going to set up your kids to fail and be frustrated.  Instead give them warning to look for certain types of words.  Our first time through they looked for adjectives.  After listening to the story we talked about adjectives being describing words, and how they make the story much more interesting.

picture books to teach writing

For the first day their writing assignment was to find 10 adjectives in the story.  Princess got this concept right away, she’s my born writer.  The boys needed a bit more help, and we spent some time going over the book together to find a few.

Eventually they found a good collection of adjectives and we talked about how these words really gave the story more flavor and interest.  It’s much more interesting to read about a dusty house in a desert than it is to read about a house.  A house is boring.  A dusty house in the desert sounds like the start of an adventure.


Don’t be afraid to reread the picture book as you teach writing

The first time you read the picture book to the kids they’re going to be caught up in the story.  After all you’re not going to use a book for an example if it wasn’t a good book.  They may not notice all of the details you want them to get.


Go back, and reread.  Stop at the end of a page and comment on the word choice or the unusual phrase.  “Jack and the Giant,” has some great word pictures as Jack talks about the giant’s kingdom and what it’s like.  Part of why I chose this theme is because Western books in general are great for this topic, they already have character built in.

Put what you learned into practice, now get writing

After you’ve read a few times and you’ve got a good idea of what an interesting paragraph looks like get to writing.  Add in more of those details.  We’re currently reading Ella Enchanted (affiliate link), and their big writing assignment for the week is to write a paragraph about one of the characters.

To be honest, their first paragraphs were terrible. Absolutely terrible. All of the sentences started the same, they were all short and boring, and needed a lot of work.

Then we talked about voice and word choice from reading “Jack and the Giant,” and the kids understood a bit more of what makes for interesting writing. Their final paragraphs, while still not great, were better. That’s what I was looking for. Improvement.


Great picture books to teach writing (with a Wild Wild West twist)

In honor of this month’s Poppins Book Nook theme I’ll stick with some more Wild, Wild West books for you to read.  All of these are books we’ve read and activities we’ve done in this theme.  Most of these books are a great example of Voice for teaching 6+1 writing, assume so unless I note otherwise.

picture books about the wild wild west*


Poppins Book Nook




Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama


Check out some more Poppins Book Nook ideas on Pinterest.

Clip art by Melon Headz

* Picture used according to CC license, cropped and text added

Great places to find science for kids

Where to find great science for kids ideas

As you’ve probably figured out, I’m a big fan of science for kids. I love to see kids make the connections and learn how to think that comes from science. It can be hard at times to find great sources for science for kids. Since Science Sunday is ending here, I wanted to share with you several great resources for science that have consistently linked up here.


Preschool Science for kids

Life with Moore Babies incorporates science into her units as they learn about different occupations and how science affects our lives. This month she shared how sunscreen protects us, a great project for preschool kids or early elementary.

Gift of curiosity frequently links up with some amazing science projects for preschool kids. She is a master of the presentation of the activity, and reading her posts makes me want to work on this skill, which I am not good at. This month they looked at how to preserve apples from rotting. A great hands on experiment, although smelly, with young kids.


Early Elementary Science for kids

Planet SmartyPants has a precocious young daughter and frequently shares her science ideas with us. Natalie is a big proponent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) teaching, and helps her daughter as much as she can at home. This month she shared a great post on Science for ages 5+. She’s also the host of the After School linkie for anyone who’s not a homeschooler but still wants to be involved in their child’s learning.

Almost Unschoolers is another place to go for great early elementary activities. I especially love reading her blog because she gives insights into taking the same activity for her younger daughters and scaling it up for her high school kids. While she hasn’t linked up in a while, she always has great activities, and I’d highly recommend reading how a simple art activity turned into a math, science, and literature lesson.


Late Elementary School or Middle School Science for kids

Most of the sites I’m linking to here will overlap well between upper elementary and middle school. They’re kids are in third grade and older and their concepts are more complex because of it.

Navitating by Joy is the first I’m going to put here because her posts are the transition point from early elementary to later elementary. There’s a lot of thought and detail put into these posts, and you will always come away learning something. This past month her family has been learning about chemistry, and I learned how to “see” electrolysis in water.

Angellic Scalliwags is more known for her great unit studies in history, but when they study science her posts are very in-depth and feature a lot of higher level thinking. Every time I read her site I come away with new plans for my kids. This past month they’ve been studying the Ebola virus and how it spreads. It’s a fascinating, if gross (not for the faint of heart) subject.

All Things Beautiful is another of my very favorite homeschooling sites. Her hands on lessons have been the inspiration for many of my lessons, and Phyllis does a great job of breaking down how and why she teaches the way she teaches. I would especially encourage you to check out her blog if you have any special needs kids, she’s a treasure trove of knowledge for reaching your kids where they are. She just shared this month an old post about edible layers of the earth model.

Susan Evans’ blog is another great resource for hands on science for elementary kids. Her posts on earth science are why we’re studying earth science this year, she made it looks so fun.

Finally I want to mention Eva Varga Science Education because her posts for middle school science have me looking forward to the future.  You’ll be seeing a lot of references to her earth science posts as well this year.

The Fiery Furnace Bible story

I was going to attempt to spell out all of the boys names, but quite honestly, they’re hard to spell, and it’s much easier to say Fiery Furnace Bible story.

This week I’m trying to get ahead of the game for my Sunday School class, so I’m getting as much of the major prophet lessons as I can up on the blog (that got side-lined by the mother of all migraines this week, which resulted in me spending half of Wednesday in a dark quiet room, stupid weather changes).

Fiery Furnace Bible story obstacle course

The book of Daniel is a hard one to split up for kids, partially because there are several stories in it kids  know, partially because Daniel also has some weird prophetic dreams.  Because of that I ended up combining some stories together a bit oddly.


Daniel and Friends stand strong in their faith

Daniel 1 Bible lesson

Daniel 1 is often skipped to head straight to all of the big exciting dreams, fires, and lions, but I think it as a very important lesson to teach, aside from the “eat healthy lesson.”

When Daniel and his friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) first come to Babylon the king gives them the best food to eat, but they refuse to eat it because the food is sacrificed to idols and they will not break Jewish dietary laws.

Daniel 1 Bible lesson

Of course we had to help Daniel and his friends find healthy food and avoid that nasty food they couldn’t eat.  The kids thought this was great fun running back and forth trying to find a food they didn’t have yet and make sure they didn’t grab some of the unhealthy food Daniel wasn’t allowed to eat.  Last time I played this game with our Sunday School class a few years ago and one of the teachers hadn’t understood they had to collect specific things, and so she said her team had won but they had meat and desserts and an extra vegetable.

The big lesson I learn from this part of Daniel’s story is how to disagree respectfully with leaders.  Daniel and his friends didn’t say, “We won’t do this because it’s against our religion.  Change your rules because we said so.”  No, they respectfully approached their supervisor and asked for the rule to be changed, and then they agreed to a trial period.

I wonder sometimes if I would be willing to be that respectful.  Actually I know I wouldn’t be.  I’m not that good at being subordinate and following directions.  I tend to think I now better.  Not a good example for my kids.


The Fiery Furnace Bible story

Fiery Furnace Bible story

The Fiery Furnace Bible story pretty much gets taught in most Sunday Schools as “Stand strong in your faith and God will protect you,” but that goes against most of history, and against what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed was going to happen.

They believed they were going to die.  They knew God could save them, but they did not believe it would happen.  I think that’s a much more powerful lesson.  Three teens (or maybe young adults) willing to die for their beliefs.

Fiery Furnace obstacle course

But my kids still need those fun silly exercises, so we ran through a Fiery Furnace obstacle course.  I’m sure that when Nebuchadnezzar called them out of the furnace they had to dodge fire and fireballs as they ran out.  I’m absolutely sure of it.  Or more likely they just walked out and everyone was amazed.

The kids loved this.  We spent a good 20 minutes doing it, and they would have happily done more, and did do more because they set up a whole new obstacle course to show off to Jeff when he came home last night.

Fiery furnace snack

Then we had a fiery furnace snack.  I loved this snack, it was awesome.  Jeff came home just as we ate it and rolled his eyes, “This is just an excuse to eat s’mores,” but he’s wrong.

Look at the lessons from this Fiery Furnace snack:

  1. The fire burned and changed the marshmallows and the chocolate chips, but did not change Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  Be like them and don’t be changed by the fire.
  2. I had a second one, but I’m not remembering it now.  Probably as a result of the sugar high from eating the s’more and the 4 other marshmallows I snuck when the kids weren’t looking.

 Fiery Furnace craft

Fiery furnace craft with free printable

Just when I thought I was done, I remembered I had a fiery furnace craft I wanted to throw in, so we dragged out our craft supplies and had fun putting it together.

Fiery Furnace Bible craftIn the end we had quite a wide variety of Fiery Furnace crafts.  Since I had extra people I let the kids color several and choose their favorites.  Batman decided he had triplets going in the furnace.  Princess added in an extra guy so the angel who came in with them was there.

Fiery Furnace Bible lesson

Materials used for our Fiery Furnace Bible lesson

Jeremiah lesson for kids

The kids and I have been studying our Jeremiah lesson off and on for the past two weeks.  That’s because I had great plans for us to get some clay and try molding it.  Then I had plans of using the play dough we made for our play dough layers of the earth model, and that play dough has disappeared.

Jeremiah snack

So, I essentially taught three different versions of the Jeremiah lesson to them and then let them have fig newtons.

No seriously, it relates to the story.

 Jeremiah lesson 1


We listened to the Adventures in Odyssey episode about Jeremiah, from the Into the Light (affiliate link) set.  We all enjoyed it, but it didn’t really concentrate on what I wanted the kids to get from Jeremiah.  The AIO episode concentrated on Jeremiah as an evangelist, but I don’t really think he was called to do that.

Instead Jeremiah was called to warn and prepare the people of Judah, so we headed off to our second Jeremiah lesson.


Jeremiah lesson 2


Picture Smart Bible Jeremiah lesson

This time we used the PictureSmart Bible (affiliate link), and I drew rough sketches for the kids as I explained what all of the pictures on their page mean.  If you haven’t used the PictureSmart Bible there are several different ways you can print the material, from dotted lines to trace, brief bits already drawn, or the version I did of it all drawn out and you just have to color.  The kids seem to like that one best.  I like these for a great overview of the book, but for some reason it just wasn’t connecting with us this time.

At the end, they still weren’t quite clear with it, so I went to…..

 Jeremiah lesson 3


Jeremiah lesson

I’m going to teach it one last time so I can have the kids videotape it, that should be interesting….

Also known as the Jeremiah lesson my kids took pictures of.  Which means I have lots of pictures like this:

random shots the kids took of the Jeremiah lesson

And an awful lot of blurry pictures and pictures I really don’t want the world to see of me.

This time, I reworded some of the material from Jeremiah lesson 2, and added in a bit of my own.

Jeremiah lesson visuals

And I talked about the warnings Jeremiah gave the people of Judah.  How God gave Jeremiah some awesome visuals and stories to tell, but no one listened to him.  For years, and years turned into decades, and they saw Babylon coming.  They still didn’t believe him.

Judah was defeated three times by Babylon, each time a group was taken away.  In the first time Daniel and his friends were taken away (it is a common tactic to take away the promising young adults to enculturate them into your culture).  Next Judah’s king, the rich, and Ezekiel were taken away (God had a special plan for Ezekiel in Babylon).  Finally the remnants were taken, leaving a defeated and sad people.

Eventually Jeremiah is carried off to Egypt by the scared Jews, and (depending on which Biblical scholar you read) writes Lamentations in Egypt, or returns to Jerusalem to write Lamentations.


What do we learn from Jeremiah?

Even in the worst of times there is hope.  One of the most hopeful songs comes from the book of Lamentations (and I remember this very well because I missed this question on my Old Testament test causing me to almost fail the test, ok, it didn’t help I kept switching the names of Abraham and Moses in my short essays). This particular version reminds me of being in college because this is how we sung it at ACU, being Church of Christ everything is sun A Capella.


Get your own Jeremiah lesson

Because I taught this in a slightly different way, I’ve divided the file into two parts.  First the Jeremiah teacher lesson, with the visuals in color, made bigger, and with the teacher script.  Then with the Jeremiah lesson for the kids with a booklet I made for my kids and Sunday School class to color as I taught the lesson.

Jeremiah lesson for kids

Jeremiah teacher lesson

Jeremiah story for kids

Jeremiah student lesson


And every time I talk about this lesson Jeff starts saying, “I hear Jeremiah was a bull frog,” and that’s all he knows of the song.  So it gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  I will now get it stuck in your head:


Resources used for the Jeremiah lesson

(these are affiliate links)

Layers of the Earth lesson

This year we’re covering two sciences: astronomy and earth science.  Our first several lessons of earth science have been wonderful because it’s coincided well with our geography.  This week we started on the layers of the earth, and I was happy as a clam when Eva Varga shared her layers of the earth lesson, so I could freely steal from it.

play dough layers of the earth model

Our Layers of the Earth lesson

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}


First off was the book work, I read them the passage from CKE Earth and Space (affiliate link) and they were all interested in the different layers, and could recite them back, but I’m not sure they got it completely.  Thankfully day 2 of the week’s lesson in Illuminations (affiliate link) was the hands on activity, and the kids really got into it.

making play dough for layers of the earth lesson

First, I made the play dough.  Well to be more accurate, I started to make the play dough only to discover we were out of cream of tartar sauce.  This led to a panicked post to the Kid Blogger Network group on Facebook asking if I could make play dough without it, because I was already halfway through measuring and mixing up stuff.  Between their answers and my google searches I decided to just leave out the cream of tartar.  I did however let one of the boys take way too many pictures of us making it.

Then I sat the kids down and started reviewing and putting together our models.  I was very surprised at how much they’d remembered because I thought they hadn’t remembered a thing, but they could tell it all to me as they put together their models.

layers of the earth, inner core

The inner core we decided should be red because it’s “red hot.”  I mistakenly told them it was liquid because it was so hot, and then I flash-backed to Star Wars Episodes I (affiliate link) and started snickering about a liquid core and swimming through it, and how it doesn’t work like that (you may have some clue why my kids don’t focus well, my mind is a truly scary place).

layers of the earth model outer core The outer core is the actual liquid part.  We chose for it to be yellow to show how hot it still is, but not as hot as the inner core.

layers of the earth mantle

We chose white for the mantle, and that’s mainly because I couldn’t convince anyone to mix colors in for another color of play dough.  They were kind of done with kneading and mixing play dough for colors.  They wanted to play.

layers of the earth crust

The crust is green or blue depending on my kid.  Batman chose green because he likes yellow and blue, and green is yellow and blue mixed together.  Superman chose blue because he likes blue best.  Princess was sad because she couldn’t put pink on the outside.  But the green represents the land, and the blue represents water.  I figure out earth is 70% water on the surface, so that’s close enough.

layers of the earth lesson printable

At the end of it all they put together the layers of the earth printable from Eva Varga’s post I linked to at the top.

I was quite pleasantly surprised a few days later when I asked about the different layers and the kids were able to tell  them to me along with what the layers were like, so lesson well learned.


If you’d like some more earth science ideas, I’d highly recommend checking out my Earth Sciences pinterest board.

Mac bath experience

And for those of you wondering what ended up happening with our dog, we washed him again in baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar, and he was not happy.  In the end he had some very soft fur, still smelled slightly of skunk, and was very unhappy with us.



I also have some rather sad news.  This will be the last Science Sunday with a linkie.  I’ve been praying and thinking over this for a while, and I think it’s time to close this down.  I’ll still be writing our science adventures fairly regularly, but I’ve noticed not as many of you linking up, and not many of you click through to check on the links that are linked up.  Next week I’ll feature the best from this month, and that will be the end of it.



Crock pot chicken parmesan and the week I feel discombobulated

Isn’t that a great word? Discombobulated?  But, back to the topic

I came up with a great idea.  I created my online cookbook on pinterest.  I realized the other week I do most of my recipe planning as I sit at the kitchen table and scroll through pinterest for recipe ideas.  But my recipes for  busy Moms board is filled with ideas I want to try and some ideas I’ve tried, but I don’t want to scroll through 300 recipes (and oh so many desserts) every week.


I’ve started pinning my favorite recipes to it, but many of them I don’t have a pin for because they’re handwritten notecards, so I’m rectifying that.  First up: Crock pot chicken parmesan.


Crock pot Chicken Parmesan

Crockpot chicken parmesan ingredients

Ingredients: 1 envelope French onion soup, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1.5 cups of milk, 1 cup dry white wine (or apple cider), 1 cup rice, 6 chicken breasts, 2 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup grated parmesan

Slow cooker chicken parmesan

My substitutions this time because I was out: apple cider for the wine (I almost always do this, I rarely remember to buy the wine), ranch mix (homemade ranch mix from here), oh and I doubled the entire sauce mixture for extra “rice stuffing”

For those who don’t use canned ingredients (which I’m slowly moving away from, and oh my is it delicious):  I substituted homemade cream of mushroom soup (we make this about every 2 months).

Crock pot chicken parmesan

  1. Mix together French onion soup, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, milk, whine, and rice.
  2. Put the chicken breasts into the slow cooker and pour the soup/rice mixture over it.
  3. Cut up the butter into small pieces and put on top of this mess.  Then sprinkle a very generous handful of cheese on top.
  4. Cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours.
  5. Eat this delicious Chicken Parmesan and say “yum, yum, yum.”


Expect a few more recipes from me from time to time as I slowly go, “Hey, I need a recipe for this to pin.”


Our school week

school for our week

All About Reading level 4 came in (AAR4, both affiliate links), and I’ve spent most of their reading lessons and random bits here and there prepping for the lessons.  The boys are excited to have reading lessons again, because it means more games for them.  We did some cooking to create a Roman Road from Phyllis’ post here, and the kids loved that dessert/school activity.

We continued our Roman themed activities with a mosaic they made out of candy.  I guess this is also the hype my kids up on sugar week.  Which seems to of ironically coincided with the “week of massive rain and headaches.”

In our Bible lessons we learned about Jeremiah, and the boys quite “nicely” took pictures of me teaching the lesson, but they also got  a few silly pictures of themselves playing dead.  Oh so helpful as always.


Games played this week:

  • Destination USA
  • LEGO Robo Champ (affiliate link, though Amazon’s price seems high right now)
  • and then we discovered several of our Lego Games were missing pieces, so the boys were set to cleaning the game area


Books read this week (affiliate links):

  • Ella Enchanted
  • several Batman junior novelizations that I didn’t keep track of because it changed each day
  • Princess is really into Critter Club books
  • Duck in the Fridge (which someone sent to me for review without telling me, and the kids think it’s hilarious)

General life catching up

life is fun

This past week has been hard for me because I’ve been extra tired with all of the pressure changes giving me headaches and I think the stress Jeff is feeling from work is rubbing off on me, so I’ve been somewhat snappish, and the kids have all been tired because several weeks of running hard has caught up to them and they are tired tired tired.

The boys headed off last Friday for a birthday party sleepover, and so Princess got to see her cousins alone and entertain them as we all watched “Moms Night Out” (affiliate link, and it’s hilarious you NEED to watch it).  Later that week Princess and I had a Mommmy/daughter date and saw “Dolphin Tale 2” (in theaters now, and great for any ocean lovers).

The boys were quite the hams when they had access to my camera, and so I’ve got about 20 more pictures like the two I included in the collage, and it’s quite silly.

Meanwhile we tried the baking soda/dawn dish soap/vinegar bath for poor Mac and he liked it even less than the other baths.  He still smelled like a skunk, but with this being his FOURTH bath in as many days it seems to of decreased.  I don’t know if that’s because that bath worked, or enough washings and soap have helped decrease the smell.  Either way his fur is the softest and fluffiest it’s been in weeks.**

Oh, and Mac also found a possum in our backyard and tried to make friends with him, that one didn’t go well either.  He’s been oblivious to the many many toads we see on all of our nightly walks, unless they leap right in front of his face.  Then he startles and goes back to ignoring them.

And the final picture is Princess starting American Girl doll club.  Each month they talk about a different doll.  They started off with Kaya and Princess feels for Kaya because she too has twin brothers.  Next month we’ll be teaching the Caroline lesson.

And I think that’s that for our week.  It never seems particularly full until I start writing about the week, and then it’s so full I can’t really talk about all of it.  Next week for sure I’ll be writing about Jeremiah, but most of the rest of this will be expounded upon some point later on.


linked up to: Collage Friday

** I did finish the dress I made to destress at about 11:15 Saturday night.  I still have to do some hand finishing on the lining, because I decided to fully line it.  The lining went together in less than half of the time of the dress because I didn’t have to match color gradations.  And I have found my new project: armor knight hoodie.

Hands on Pompeii Lesson

There are sometimes your lessons go fabulously, and this was one of those times, which was nice to have happen in a rather busy month.

Hands on Pompeii lesson

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}

“Boring” part of the Pompeii lesson (translation, not messy)

Our Pompeii lesson started when I saw the independent reading on Illuminations (affiliate link) was “Pompeii…Buried Alive!” (affiliate link).  I generally speaking really enjoy the later Step Into Reading Books and this was no different.  It has a great overview of what happened and had all of my kids enthralled.  So much so I think they finished it more or less two days of reading lessons (approximately 30 minutes of reading out loud, minus some other activities).

After all that time reading about Pompeii, I decided to skip reading the actual text from MOH2 (affiliate link) for now and come back to that later if need be.

Instead I told them to build some Legos.  I gave them a small Lego plate and sent them to build their idea of a Roman town.  And they happily did so.

Then I set them to cleaning the massive mess they’d made (which still isn’t cleaned up almost 2 weeks later, due to other circumstances), while I prepped the next part of the activity.

 The Hands on Part of the Pompeii lesson

Pompeii lesson

I went outside and started burying their city.  I threw a few rocks in there, large amounts of dirt, some ash from our fire pit, but generally was not too careful.  My goal was to knock a few things about in the burying, just as the settling of the ash and the occasional large debris that came about caused damage to the actual city.

Then I called the kids outs to see their buried town, which led to cries of dismay as they realized their gorgeous cities were buried and I’d covered their treasured Legos in dirt.  There might have been real tears.

Digging up Pompeii lesson

Slowly they dug up the city of Pompeii.  I emphasized not disturbing the layers and working to ensure they preserved how it was found.  They did some drawings, but they were much to engrossed in digging up their archeological dig to really care about perfect preservation skills.

As a side note, this is the fourth time we’ve done an activity like this, previously we’ve had an archeological dig, a dinosaur dig, and a marine recovery.  I think this was our most successful dig.  The Lego city made it much more interesting to dig for, and easier for them to visualize what it’s like to dig up a site.

Pompeii lesson for kids

After all of that, and the kids happily dug through for over an hour.  Seriously, eventually I just left them to it as I went inside to watch a Bright Ideas Press’ last G+ hangout. (I put this picture up on my facebook page).

Pompeii lesson notebooking pages

The next day we finally listened to our MOH2 lesson on the topic as they filled out their notebook pages (and did you see, they’re on sale this month?).  We finished it up watching a Pompeii movie on Netflix.  I opted not to show them the romantic soap opera masquerading as a historical movie called “Pompeii” (the reviews I read said, “IF you want to watch Titanic with a volcano and random explosions, watch this,” No thank you).

What we learned from our Pompeii lessons

I almost forgot to include this, but there were so many great things to come out of this lesson:

  1. Archaeology can be very hard at times.  You don’t know exactly where things are, or what you’re looking for.  It’s easy to break items as you unbury them.
  2. It is disappointing when your hard work is buried/destroyed.  They felt sad and hurt I’d buried and messed up their Lego creations, they got a small taste of how the people who survived Pompeii felt.
  3. There are multiple ways to learn.  We tried most of the major modalities.  We got in visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and all of them helped my kids to absorb this lesson.  Not all lessons is it possible to do this on, but when it is, it’s a great way to learn more.


How I teach active learners

As you’ve no doubt figured out by now I have some very active learners.  Or as I sometimes refer to them, wiggle worms.

How to teach active learners without losing your mind

Signs you have an active learner

You might have an active learner if:

  1. They cannot sit still in a chair.  My kids are incapable of just SITTING.  They stick their foot up on the table, they change positions, they stand.  They fall out of the chair.  But they do not sit.
  2. They prefer to stand while they work.  Batman spends most of his school time standing.  I’ve even moved the chair out of his way so he didn’t knock it over In his moving back and forth.
  3. They talk with their hands.  We all know THAT person, the one who’s accidentally hit the person next to them as they talked.  I’m that person, so I’m familiar with it.
  4. They can’t concentrate unless they are moving.  This is the person who paces when they talk on the phone.

Well, you get the picture, this is the kid (or adult) who just doesn’t sit still.

Start your active learner’s day with exercise

sitting on an exercise ball

The days we start with some exercise work better.  I think it’s because they’ve burned some of their endless energy and can sit still for a few minutes.  Though still is a relative term.  I mean I taught one lesson with my son upside down, seriously he was balancing his legs in the air in some yoga pose.

Exercises we’ve tried:

  • crab walk across the room 10 times
  • bear walk across the room 10 times
  • skip around the room
  • hopping, jumping, or running around the room
  • Sit-ups, pull-ups, general stretches

Get your active learner an exercise ball

Our reading lessons go so much better now that my kids have Exercise Balls (affiliate link).  Princess bounces up and down as she reads vocabulary words.  The boys balance all sorts of ways as they read (I may do the same as I listen, seriously I’m a horrible example for sitting still).

Exercise balls also have the benefit of helping build up core muscles, which are important for posture, stability, and almost every exercise you do later in life.


Set a time limit for your active learner

Buy a red line timer (affiliate link, and I LOVE this), and use it for everything.  Set short times of work, and when it’s done stop.

I don’t care how well the work is going, just stop.  Because I know the temptation to keep going because it’s going well, but you will pay for it.  Oh, how you will pay.  Trust me stop when the timer goes off.

Then take a break, just a short one, say 5 or 10 minutes, but take a break and move.  Do some jumping jacks, move around.


Let your active learner sit how they want


Your active learner will not sit at a desk, or at least not well.  Let them sit how they want when possible.  You can teach them to sit appropriately for meals and such, but give them leeway when you can.  My kids have certainly embraced sitting how they want for reading (the picture right above is one of several from the post).


Bring movement into your lessons

Your active learner is going to love you when you add movement to your lessons.  Have your kids find words around the room, or say math facts while doing jumping jacks,  make flash cards and have the kids run to them.  Just get them moving.


Dangle the carrot for your active learner

Let them know once the “sitting down” stuff is done, that you’ll go to the park, or swimming.  Give them incentive to get it done so they can play.


Do you have any other suggestions for active learners?  I’d love to hear them.


This is part of iHomeschool Network’s Learning Styles and Personalities.

Why does tomato juice get rid of skunk smell?

This past week my dog decided to play with a skunk.  I brought him in Wednesday night and he smelled bad, but I convinced myself he was fine, and I was just crazy.

Why do we use tomato juice to wash skunk smell off

The next morning it was clear I was not crazy.  He smelled horrible.

I knew you’re supposed to use tomato juice to wash him off, but I didn’t have any.  So I used some shampoo.  That didn’t work.


I put a quick facebook post up, asking for advice, and got some great suggestions.  I also asked the ladies at my women’s Bible study about how to deal with this.


Both facebook and my women’s Bible study agreed: get thee to a grocery store and buy some tomato juice.


Why does tomato juice get rid of the skunk smell?


We had a long discussion about it at the Bible study and our leader swore because of the acidity of tomato juice, and then we started wondering if orange juice would work as well and on and and on and on.


But you know, what?

Tomato juice didn’t work.  Our dog still smells, he’s slightly better, but the tomato juice didn’t work.


Mainly because it’s been raining, and getting wet causes the smell to come back, for a very long explanation of that, I’ll refer you to the article I’ve been poring over for the last several minutes.


My new plan (to enact tomorrow): Baking Soda (affiliate link and yes I have bought that big of a bag before, it’s handy stuff, I also have a rather funny story about college and baking soda and carrying boxes of it around downtown Dallas) and Dawn Dish soap (also affiliate link, and another funny college story I had 2 roommates flood my apartment putting this in the dishwasher, you can sweep up suds).


So lesson learned tomato juice does not get rid of skunk smell.


In theory the baking soda well because it will cause the chemicals causing the smell to oxygenate, and a bunch more complicated information.  I’ll update the post with our results later.


UPDATE: Baking Soda, Dish soap, and vinegar attempt to get rid of skunk smell.

I finally found baking soda and vinegar, and used half of our remaining dish soap, because the claim was “Dawn soap will work.”

Well, first my dog scratched my legs up because he was thinking, “No way am I getting another bath in 3 days.  That makes THREE.”  After I’d finally convinced him to get in the bathtub I covered him in baking soda.

Then I realized I really should have gotten him wet first, so the dish soap would spread further.  Almost a cup of dish soap later, I started pouring the vinegar on him.  He made for an impressive fizzing mess, and almost jumped out of the bath tub when it happened.

I caught him in time, and proceeded to pour large amounts of vinegar on him, and then finish rinsing him with water once I ran out of vinegar.


Then he ran away, rubbed all over every piece of furniture in the house to object to the bath, and hid from me all night long.

The next morning he still smelled.  Horrid.  We tried calling the groomers, but they don’t have a special skunk shampoo.  Poor guy’s gonna smell for a while.


instead of writing about why we use tomato juice for skunks

And I have not yet commented on everyone’s posts yet because I’ve been dealing with this whole dog thing, and to de-stress I decided to make a dress.  I’ve popped in and checked out a few posts, but haven’t commented all around yet.


I’d like to remind everyone this is a science linkie, please link science related posts.

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