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Category Archives: Homeschooling

Artsy Kids: Traditional Puebloan Pottery

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My children have been learning about Native Americans in History this year.  Our approach to History is very hands-on.  I feel, especially at this age, that exploration, discussion, and hands-on activities are much more important to learning to love History than fact memorization.  For our study of the Puebloan people, I found pottery craft kits sold on Amazon by Wildwood Craft Kits (these are also available at Mesa Verde National Park if you happen to be in the area).  These kits were so much fun, and really gave my kids an understanding of how the puebloan people make their pottery.  Here’s what comes in the kit…


First, the kids had to work the clay…


Then, they rolled it into a ball…


They made a hole in the center of the ball of clay…


And began forming the clay into pots.


Once the pots were finished, they had to give them a few days to air dry.



When the pots were dry, they polished them with a smooth stone.


Then, they got ready to paint puebloan designs on the pots.  First, the kids had to chew the ends of the yucca stems to make paintbrushes.  They didn’t love this part.  The yucca stems tasted bad.



Then, they mixed the paints and picked out designs…



And drew the designs on the pots…


And painted them.



And here are the finished pots…pretty cool if you ask me!



Kids In The Kitchen: No Bake Granola Bars

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My kids and I love Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, but it has recently come to my attention that these are probably one of the most unhealthy granola bars on the grocery shelf…no wonder they taste so good.  So, I decided to try to make my own granola bars at home and found a great no bake recipe to try.  The kids were able to make them with almost no help from me, and they taste unbelievable.  No more store-bought granola bars for me and my family!

Here’s the step-by-step recipe with cute pics of my kiddos in the kitchen.  Enjoy!


No Bake Granola Bars


2 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup crispy rice cereal

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Choice of mix-ins


1.  In a large bowl, mix together the oats…


the rice cereal…


and the coconut.  Set aside.


2.  In a small sauce over medium high heat, melt the butter.


Add the honey…


brown sugar…


and salt.


Stir together and allow to come to a boil.  When the boil has reached the edges of the pan, begin timing for 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

3.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.


4.  Pour this mixture over the oat mix and stir everything together until oats are completely coated.


Allow to cool.

5.  Add your choice of mix-ins.  We did cranberry white chocolate chip.  Add 1/2 cup of each ingredient you choose.  So for ours, we added 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips…


and 1/2 cup of Craisins.


You could add nuts, pretzels, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or candy…anything you think you might like in a granola bar.  Don’t you just love the freedom!?!

6.  Press the mix into a 9×13 pan…


and stick in the fridge for 20 minutes.

7.  When cool, turn out onto a cutting board.  (I had to tap the bottom of my pan gently with a knife to release the granola.)  Cut the granola in 16 bars…


and enjoy!


I also did my own batch with salted peanuts, peanut butter chips, and chocolate chips.  It turned out very yummy!


Hope you have as much fun making your granola bars as my kids and I did.

Dinosaurs at The Clay Center

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Have I mentioned that I love The Clay Center?  Well, I do!  And my kids do, too!  We love Earth City, Health Royale, and the Gizmo Factory.  We love visiting the art gallery, the planetarium, and watching a film on the giant screen.  And, we love the ever-changing Mylan Explore-atory.


Currently in the Mylan Explore-atory is a wonderful exhibit called “Be The Dinosaur”.  The Clay Center pulled out all the stops on this one!

Be the Dinosaur fuses state-of-the-art video game technology with traditional paleontology exhibits that feature full-size dinosaur bones, a paleontology field station, a Safari Jeep and much more. Thanks to highly interactive simulator pods, guests can “become” an actual living, breathing dinosaur within a virtual Cretaceous Era ecosystem. Younger guests can take part in our Dino Dig, where everyone leaves with a dino-mite prize! The exhibit will also feature dinosaur artifacts and activities exploring dino defenses, size, colors and lifestyles.”- The Clay Center Website.

I enjoy all the exhibits that come to the Explore-atory, but I must say this has been my favorite.





My kids especially loved the Safari Jeep.



Who doesn’t love digging for dinosaur fossils?


In this little box, you can dig up toy dinosaurs…and you even get to keep one!  My kids are big fans of plastic animals, especially dinosaurs.



Build your own dino scene at this station.



My, would you look at that footprint!



We had a blast at the Dino-Morphs station where you can build a dinosaur using the pieces provided.


We had a little too much fun putting the dinos together the wrong way.  Have you ever seen a dinosaur with a head on the front and backside?



No dinosaur exhibit would be complete without a giant dinosaur head.





By visiting all the stations in this exhibit, you learn about dinosaurs, paleontologists, fossils, extinction, and many other interesting facts.  You also get tips for how to play the Be The Dinosaur video game situated in the center of the room.



This was my favorite part of the exhibit.  What can I say?  I’m a video game fan!



My kids and hubby enjoyed it, too.  And they learned enough about dinosaur survival that they were able to keep their dinos alive for the whole game…Congratulations!  You Survived The Cretateous Era!

We really enjoyed playing at this exhibit, and can’t wait for the next exhibit “Brain Teasers 2” coming in January.  After becoming dinosaurs, we took time to play at the rest of the exhibits, and no trip to The Clay Center would be complete without a visit to our favorite…Earth City!



Look!  It’s all decked out for Christmas!



Oh, the hours we’ve spent in this room!  My kids could stay here forever.

I love days spent at The Clay Center…we’ll be back very soon!



Here’s a little Christmas cheer for you.  May all my lovely bloggers out there have a very merry Christmas!

Long Time Gone

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Wow!  Has it really been that long since my last blog post?!?  Life in summer is so very busy with gardening and swimming and playing and housework and schooling and church and travel and treehouse building and…you get the idea!  Add my husband’s vasectomy reversal to the list, and things get all kinds of crazy!

Yes, we have two beautiful children who are 7 and 8, and we thought we were content with that, but God had other plans for us.  So, if it is his will, we will be adding to our happy little family of four.  Excited and nervous…are we crazy?!?

So, to make a long story short, I will be blogging, but there may be gaps in my posts.  I have so much to talk about…summer schooling stories, recipes to share, gardening tips to tell, and life events to gush about, but I can’t seem to find enough time in the day.  Stick with me, guys, I’ll work on those time management skills!

Hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am!

Slip-Sliding Away

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Finally!  Warm weather is here!  I just hope it’s here to stay for a while.

You know it’s warm when you have to pull out the slip-n-slide and the kiddie pools.  My kiddos and I finished up class early yesterday so we could spend the afternoon enjoying this beautiful weather.  Ah, the joys and freedoms of homeschooling!

This momma even gave her kids a tutorial on how to properly use the slip-n-slide, and ended up walking around with a wet front all afternoon.  I had forgotten just how much fun those things are!


Mr. man loved taking a big, and I mean big, run and sliding.  He even let his toy lizards join in the fun.


Little miss…slip-sliding away!  Look, there’s her toy lizard sliding, too.


I think sis won that race!


After all that “hard work”, it’s time for a relaxing soak in the pool.


Why, yes, that is a sandal floating in the pool.  It is a “boat” for all those lizards and snakes.

I really love and cherish this time with my kiddos…and I love their fun little imaginations.  Hope you are enjoying this warm weather as much as we are!

Kids In The Kitchen: Thumbprint Cookies

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Today, since it was rainy and cool and we could not have class outside, my kiddos and I enjoyed class on the couch followed by a wonderful time playing in the kitchen.  We have been wanting to bake thumbprint cookies for a while, so today we did!  Oh, how I love thumbprint cookies!  They are easy to make, budget friendly, fun for kids, and so very deliciously addictive.  In fact, out of the 3 dozen we made, I think we have 4 left…thanks to a little help from our family visiting today.  I really have to get that recipe for my sis-in-law!

So, here are my little chefs demonstrating the joys of baking thumbprint cookies…enjoy!


Thumbprint Cookies


1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 egg yolk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg white

1 cup finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Filling of choice:  Nutella, strawberry jam, lemon curd, peanut butter…I usually mix and match, but today we went straight for the Nutella!


1.  Heat oven to 350F.  In medium bowl, add softened butter, shortening…


Add the brown sugar…


And the vanilla…


And the egg yolk.  (Save that egg white in a small bowl for later!)


Mix with a spoon.



Now, add the salt…


And the flour…


And stir some more until everything is mixed together.


2.  Shape the dough into balls.


Place the egg white in a small bowl and the nuts in another.  Set up an assembly line with the dough, egg, nuts, and cookie sheet.  The kids love this part!


Dip each ball into the egg white.


Then, roll it in the nuts.


Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.  And, the best part yet…press your thumbs…


or fingers…


into the center of each cookie to make an indentation, but don’t press too hard. You don’t want to break the little cookies!

3.  Bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Quickly remake indentations (moms, not kids, as the cookies are still super hot!).  If you haven’t already burned all the feeling from your fingers as I have, and don’t really want to touch cookies that are 350F, you can use the end of a wooden spoon to do this.  Let cookies cool slightly and transfer them to a plate.  Fill each thumbprint with about 1/2 tsp. of filling (or more if you know what’s good for you!).


Try to wait until they are filled before eating them.  My daughter can hardly contain herself!



4.  Last, but not least, enjoy all your hard work.  Maybe even share them with your kids.  After all, they did help.  And please, share with your family, because they can smell them and will travel to your house to steal them all.  Trust me, I know!

Homeschooling In The Great Outdoors

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Everything was thoroughly hectic and depressing last week, so much so that I didn’t even have time or the desire to write on my blog.  After taking some time to be a big baby, I’m pulling myself up by my bootstraps and living life!  And the best way I find to enjoy life is with my wonderful husband and kiddos…I love them so very much!


One of my greatest joys and greatest challenges in life is homeschooling my children.  I feel so blessed to be able to have them home with me every day and to be responsible for their learning.  After taking an unwanted break from school last week, we were all very excited to get back in the groove.  Thankfully, the sun was shining today and it was nice and warm outside, and that means outside class!  We look forward to this time of year when we can just pack all of our books and supplies outside and learn while the sun is beating down on us and the birds are singing and the wind is blowing on our faces…perfection.

So, today, we had class outside.  And it was wonderful!  All the stress of last week just slid away as I worked with my kids.  I am always amazed at how well they learn and how much they truly enjoy learning.  Being able to soak up that happy sunshine also helped wipe away the stress!

Learning outside really has its perks.  We got to study ants as we talked about insects in science.  My daughter was able to write her spelling words on the driveway with chalk instead of using paper and pencil.


We all worked together to make cute little leaf and flower butterfly crafts.


And, my children used their very vivid imaginations to make “crossbows” with sticks and rubber band bracelets during their breaks.  Silly kiddos!


Homeschooling in the great outdoors is just one of the many, many reasons I love being a homeschooler.  And it’s a really great reason!

The Liebster Award

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I was recently nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Especially Made.  She is a mother and homeschooler raising a child with special needs.  She seems to do this with such a wonderful spirit about her.  I find her blog truly uplifting and inspiring.  I’m so honored that she enjoys my blog enough to nominate me for this award.  It is nice to have other bloggers out there going through life in much the same fashion as you are, some with extra challenges, who become a support system for you.  Part of being nominated for the Liebster Blog Award means I get to answer some questions given to me by this amazing mother and homeschooler.

Who inspires you? My children are my constant inspiration.  They are so full of love, joy, and laughter.  They always bring a smile to my face.

What is the hardest part about blogging, if any? Time and confidence.  I live a very busy life, and often wonder if what I write will be of interest to anyone…at least I know it interests one blogger 🙂

What is your favorite quote? “Savor the Flavor”.  My granny always said this.  It wasn’t meant to just apply to food, but to all of life.

What is your favorite dessert? Cheesecake!  Love it!!!

What skill do you wish you had taken the time to learn when you were growing up? How to play a musical instrument…any would do.  I love to sing, and would like to be able to play as well…maybe one of these days. 

What is the one activity you wish you had the time to pursue? Well, that instrument would be nice, but right now, I wish I had time to finish my house…love the lack of trim and a half finished fireplace…it’s a new trend I’m starting…haha!

If money was no issue, where would you like to travel? If money was no issue, I would see the world…all of it…starting with Greece, of course.

What is your favorite holiday? Halloween…I love dressing up, maybe more than my kids do!

What is your favorite pastime? Cooking and Baking…followed closely by reading.

What book are you currently reading? A Day Away by Nora Roberts.  Sometimes there is nothing better than a mushy romance novel.

Do you play a musical instrument? Refer to previous questions…I can pick out a song or two on the piano and play “Shenandoah” on the guitar, but that’s about it.

Now, I am nominating other bloggers for this award.  These blogs bring me joy and usually laughter when I read them.  They are inspiring and comforting to me.  If you get a chance to stop by these blogs, I think you will really enjoy them…I know I do!

To the winners, if you would like to pass this award on, you can post about this award on your own blog with your own nominations. One of the rules for the Liebster Blog Award is to post your answers to the questions above that I answered. That way, I can get to know you all a little better! 🙂

Congrats to:

1.  Happily Occupied Homebodies

2.  Le Zoe Musings

3.  A Homeschool Mom

4.  The Two Boys Club

5.  life detoured

6.  our prairie home

A Day At The Clay Center

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My hubby was out of town this weekend, and when he isn’t around, my children and I feel a little sad.  So, to keep our minds occupied and make the time pass more quickly, I planned a very busy weekend for us.  We went shopping for spring clothes,  for new books (we can’t ever go shopping without buying books), and for party supplies for little man’s upcoming birthday!  We went to see Oz, The Great and Powerful…wonderful movie, by the way.  My son says it’s the best movie he’s seen in theaters, and my daughter is now in love with James Franco…he’s “cute”.  We also went to our favorite place in West Virginia…the Clay Center!

The Clay Center is an arts and science museum located in Charleston, WV.  We have been visiting this wonderful museum since my children were very young, and they still love it today.  It’s almost like our home away from home.  The center  has three levels of fun and education for children, with some exhibits that always remain the same and others that are constantly changing.  They have giant screen films and a planetarium.  They also offer family fun days to celebrate holidays.  Earth Day celebration is coming up soon!  And they have special concerts just for children.  One of our favorites was the Seussical Musical…all about Dr. Seuss stories!  There are kid’s camps, children’s programs, outdoor programs, adult programs, and so much more.  No wonder we love it so much!

So, we visited the Clay Center and took lots of pictures of the fun!  I hope you all are ready to be overloaded with photos!  I love watching my kids enjoy themselves and being able to freeze those moments to enjoy them forever.  Here is a glimpse of our day at the Clay Center…

We started off the day with a visit to our favorite exhibit, Earth City, where we explored…you guessed it…earth sciences.


Learn about Port Royal, Jamaica’s experience with liquefaction by burying your hands in a quick-sandy earthquake.


Explore the natural wonders through a really neat View Finder exhibit.


Learn myths and facts about how fog forms.  My kids like to try to blow the fog away…that’s what my son is doing in this picture.


Ahhhh!  It’s a giant waterfall!


Try to bury a skull with sand and learn about a land that was “consumed by the sands”.


Learn about locks and dams.  Did you know that dams are usually named after the town that gets flooded when they are made?  Summersville Dam got its name because the town directly in the flood path was called Gad…would you like to visit Gad Dam…I didn’t think so!


Mountain vs. Water…learn all about erosion and how the flow of water has affected our mountains.


Careful…you will get wet in Earth City!  At least if you play like my kids you will!

Next, we went to the Mylan Explore-atory.  This is a constantly changing exhibit, currently displaying the hands-on experience, Little Builders.


Ride on construction equipment.



Pretend to paint the building…two rollers at a time…and don’t forget your hard hat and bright orange vest!


Maybe you’d like to learn how to do some plumbing.  My kids made poop noises the whole time and were racing the clock to get the pipes connected before the poop came rushing out.  Why are kids so fascinated with poop?



Build your own little town…or a giant castle like my daughter did!

We spent some time in Health Royale learning about health and wellness.  I love this exhibit, but I’m still sad they took out “The Yodler”.  It was our favorite part of this gallery.


This is a neat “repeat the pattern” game using…body noises!  Again with the poo sounds!  And burping, sneezing, hiccuping, and so on.


Here you can make interesting faces.  My kids like to try to make super crazy looking faces!



This is the main attraction in Health Royale.  It’s like Hollywood Squares with health questions.  The guests on the show are body parts with names like Mr. P (I pity the fool…) and Pelvis (you know, like Elvis in the shape of a pelvis).


Could there be anything more fun than stretching out an intestine?  Did you know that your small intestine is about 20 feet long?  Where does it fit?

We traveled downstairs to the Gizmo Factory.  This gallery has over 30 exhibits dealing with physical science!



Discover the power of water and how the force somehow balances a ball as it spins it around and around.  Way cool!


This exhibit is all about smoke and mirrors…and laser beams.



Learn about pulleys and how they work as you try to lift yourself into the air.  Not an easy task!  Momma usually ends up doing the hard work while the kiddos sit back and enjoy the ride!


We love these pin-screens in small size, but we really LOVE them in giant size!

We didn’t make it to the planetarium on this trip because we’ve already seen the film on The Planets, but we did take time to see the giant screen film, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.


Here we are waiting to watch the film which ended up being quite fascinating.  It was really about the sea animals who live in the aftermath of underwater volcanoes.  In waters that should boil them to a crisp, some animals have managed to not only survive, but thrive!  My son says this was his favorite film so far, even better than Giants of Patagonia…a film about dinosaurs!

And, of course, we finished our day with a nice stroll through the art gallery.  Right now, it is crowded with some of the most beautiful quilts.  I’m jealous because I’ve always wanted to learn to quilt…maybe one of these days.

We enjoyed ourselves very much and can’t wait until our next visit.  And, it helped pass the time while daddy was away.  I hope you enjoyed the tour of our day at the Clay Center.  These pictures only show a handful of the fun and interesting things you can do here.  If you are ever in Charleston, WV, you have to make time to check it out!

Artsy Kids: Origami

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We have been studying the Japanese culture in history and geography.  In studying the culture, my children are learning that there is a lot more to Japan than just business and industry.  The people also care about old traditions and customs, and this helps to make this culture unique.

The children in Japan learn a very old form of art called origami- paper folding.  They also wear kimonos, and celebrate holidays such as Shogatsu, Girl’s Day, and Boy’s Day where they get to wear bright costumes, play games, and get presents.  They take their shoes off when entering a home.  They traditionally eat at low tables, kneeling on cushions, while using chopsticks.

These are just a few of the traditions and customs my children found interesting and fun.  They especially liked the idea of a holiday just for boys and girls, eating on the floor, and the art of paper folding.

So, we decided to try our hand at a little paper folding…origami.  I received a 365 day origami calendar several years ago, and never made the time to use it.  I dug it out of my craft bin, and let the kids pick what they wanted to make.  My daughter chose a peacock and my son chose a rattlesnake.

We first had to make a base shape, and from there, followed the directions for each animal.  There was a lot of folding, unfolding, fixing, folding again, unfolding again, folding some more…you get the idea.  It was quite the learning experience!  We ended up really enjoying ourselves, and our pieces turned out pretty good for a first attempt.  The kids are already picking which pieces they want to make tomorrow…maybe this will become a 365 day project for us.

Here are a few pictures from our origami adventure…


Trying to figure out the directions


My daughter is a natural at origami


My son rocking the accordion fold


Sweet little pink peacock


Super scary rattlesnake



And, of course, they had to add detail…feathers and fangs!


And here’s momma’s butterfly…I couldn’t miss out on all the fun!

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