Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Free Shipping ends at midnight tonight!

I don't know about you, but I always like free shipping when I order online - know what I mean? I hope this helps, and thanks to all of you for being there!

Amanda B.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessings Tree - Online Leaves!

The leaves are changing here, and the colors are beautiful. Many of you will be making the Blessings Tree that is described in the Thanksgiving Unit Study, and I have discovered some online leaf outlines that might be helpful as you prepare the leaves for the next four weeks. Here are a few leaf outline sites:

Leaf Outlines

Leaves of England

Maine Foliage Fall Clip Art

Counting my blessings here, and I hope you are too,
Amanda B.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Giving Thanks as a Family!

This is the time of year that the warm weather is waning, you begin to notice the smell of burning leaves and ripening apples. The clear cool breeze is on your face first thing in the morning, and the children have new energy and interest in the season. Autumn is here and isn't it beautiful? A time for harvesting, canning, preserving and getting stocked up for winter -- and the perfect time for reflecting on the many things for which we should be thankful.

I number among these: God, our family, our home, our love and our great country. We have indeed been blessed in this country, as were our forefathers and the early celebrants of that first Thanksgiving in America -- both the Pilgrims and the Indians that shared the meal and celebration together. At our house, we use this time of gratitude and counting our blessings to study that first Thanksgiving as an integral part of our homeschool studies.

As with any unit study topic, I try to pick out all of the important subtopics, crossing the curriculum spectrum many times. For example, when studying Thanksgiving, there is plenty of historical information to examine, along with geography (ocean crossings, continents, climates), science (plant varieties, growth, propagation, some of the sicknesses of the time, animal life in the region), art (N.C. Wyeth's paintings, clothing of the time, crafts), and reading (both fiction and nonfiction books).

When I first began preparing a unit study on Thanksgiving, I had the incorrect notion that my understanding of that period of American history was fairly complete. I was certainly proven wrong as we progressed through our study! I had not realized the extent of the sacrifice made by the Pilgrims over that 13 year period, traveling to Holland for years, and then finally returning to England to take part in the colonization of America. I never really knew or understood the origin of the "King James" version of the Bible and how it was connected to the Separatists.

Each year, we focus on different aspects of the event. One year, we took a look at what was involved in their survival in a new land. When we started making our list of what we would do if we were the Pilgrims, one son chimed in "find a Walmart!" The reality of being in the middle of nowhere to maintain your religious beliefs, giving up what was so familiar and comfortable to go to an unknown destiny was pretty amazing to them. This was exactly the concept that I wanted them to understand -- that sacrifices are often made for what you believe in, and to trust in the Lord to lead and protect you.

As we work our way through this study, we have many activities and studies that we enjoy. For example, a popular question has been over the difference in Indian corn and table corn, as we know it. This opens the door to an opportunity to help them learn more about the differences in plant varieties and about the gardening practices of both the Pilgrims and the Indians.

Not only are we looking at some of their survival gardening, we are also trying to get a better understanding of what types of shelter they built, what kinds of sickness they had to deal with and why we don't have those illnesses today. There are many aspects of their daily living that we can't easily relate to from our own experience, and it is important for the children to "see" what life was like then, the tools they used, the things they did without, the responsibilities of each family member, and the importance of their faith and trust in God to provide for their needs.

One of the books that opened my eyes to a broader view of the politics and history of the Pilgrims' journeys was Saga of the Pilgrims: From Europe to the New World, by John Harris (published by Globe Pequot Press). This book, written for the seventh grade and up, is very interesting reading and certainly presented a new perspective on these religious outcasts. I recommend that both parents and the older children read this one -- it is a very informative and interesting book to share and discuss. For the younger children, a comparable book might be If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, by Ann McGovern.

As we study the Pilgrims and the people involved in this "new beginning", the characters of the people and some of the flavor of their hopes and dreams, ideas, work ethic, and humor come to light, and are appreciated by those involved in the study. When reading about their first winter, you can't help but feel the loss of so many loved ones on a personal level.

The resourcefulness and foresight of these religious outcasts helped lay some secure and strong foundations for our country. When they took the time and painstaking effort to write and bring to acceptance the Mayflower Compact, they unknowingly developed the long-lasting concept of freedoms and rights that we Americans enjoy and expect.

People tend to develop a much deeper appreciation of these freedoms when they get some hands-on exposure to the price that has been paid to obtain and protect those freedoms, and it is my goal that this study will help the children develop a solid understanding and appreciation of these principles and ideals.

Enjoy this season of giving thanks and bringing the harvest home. There is so much to be thankful for, and as homeschoolers, we have even more to be thankful for -- the chance to really know our children and walk the walk with them, sharing and caring and motivating and learning beside them. Enjoy the adventure, and may you and your family be abundantly blessed!


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Flight Unit Study - new and downloadable!

Thanks to everyone that has patiently waited for me to offer the Flight Unit Study in a downloadable format - here's the link, and you can either download it or purchase the CDROM (note - the CDROM version includes the Flight Notebooking Pages as a bonus):

I'm working on the others as quickly as possible, and filling orders as fast as we can here. Can you hear the Thanksgiving music playing in the background as I write? :-)

Amanda B.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Only 4 more hours on Holiday Unit Study Sale!

Thanksgiving Unit Study + Notebooking Pages CD - only $10.95 until midnight tonight, eastern time

Christmas Unit Study + Notebooking Pages CD - only $10.95 until midnight tonight, eastern time

Free shipping from now through the end of October!

Join us as we get ready to begin these holiday studies in just a few weeks.

Amanda B.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

For book lovers and those that are thinking of the holidays...

I have been fortunate enough to meet some of you in person, and hope to
meet more of you as I begin a new season of travel and speaking. Those
of you that have met me KNOW that I am a book-lover through and
through, and I always have some new book to recommend. Many of you
write, asking about what I am reading these days - this might help!I
have added a special Thanksgiving page of recommendations just for this

I know how difficult it can be to find just the right book when you are
busy with young children. Now that are kids are older, I have more time
to read a wide range of books, and try to filter through them to
recommend some of my favorites.

I have slowly but surely been building a website - primitive but it
works - where I can keep listing my finds as time permits. Hopefully
this will help you, and if your library system has an online book
reservation system, you can cut and paste the titles in one fast

Remember, it is just a beginning effort - sorry it isn't more
extravagant! Somehow, I've been busy writing books myself, and this has
been a "fun" effort on the side when my hair is standing up straight
and my eyes are crossing at the thought of another vocabulary list. :-)

Here's the site - hope it helps:

Amanda Recommends

Yep, keeping it simple and hope to keep it updated as I can. The
Christmas link will be ready in a few weeks. In the meantime, keep reading!

Amanda B.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fun and easy holiday project!

While thinking about easy and fun things to do for the holidays, here's an idea. We have made pillowcases using cotton holiday fabric for our own family, as well as for gifts for others. They are VERY easy to make, and here's a link to my favorite SIMPLE instructions - keep in mind that I am sewing-challenged, so you know this MUST be easy:

Pillowcases with Kids

I saw some very cute snowman fabric the other day, as well as some beautiful harvest fabric. One year, an aunt made the kids some simple beige pillowcases, and embroidered two praying Pilgrim children on the wide hems of each one. They were beautiful, and still treasured here.

Be creative - it really can be fun! I will NEVER forget the time that the boys chose glow-in-the-dark shark fabric for their new pillowcases while we studied oceans. Imagine my shock when checking on them in the middle of the night and seeing bright green sharks swarming around their heads! :-)

Amanda B.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Holiday Unit Study Sale!

Hello friends!

Email about ordering the holiday unit studies is just beginning to pile up, and many of you are asking when to get ready and begin the studies. Others missed the earlier sale on the Thanksgiving & Christmas Unit Studies. This is a very exciting and fun season for family learning and making great memories - join us as we prepare for this season of love, blessings and thanksgiving!

To try to make all of our lives a bit simpler:

1. For the next few days, through October 5th, we have put the Christmas and Thanksgiving Unit Studies on sale for $10.95 - the CD version, and these CDs will include the coordinating Notebooking Pages. The sale price - $10.95, usually $14.95. REMEMBER - this pricing is only good through midnight (Eastern time), at the close of October 5th. Then the prices will return to $14.95.

2. Timing of the studies - I recommend that you consider beginning the Thanksgiving study on October 29th, which will have your family finishing up the four weeks on the week of Thanksgiving. I also recommend beginning the Christmas Unit Study on the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 24th, which will have your family finishing up the four weeks on December 21st.

3. If you can, begin by getting the studies as soon as possible, collecting the books that you choose to use with the study, and getting things from the library before everyone else in your county wipes out the special holiday collections! :-)

4. Free shipping for the month of October - my gift to you all and I hope that it helps.

Thanks SO MUCH for your patience as I have been busy with new books, kids, life and lots of adventure. The new titles are slowly but surely shipping out of here!

Amanda B.