Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No More Fear of Science!

Science - that word can send fear through parents in an instant. I've seen it at conventions, time and time again, and I spend plenty of time taking away the fear and opening the door to wonder. Being a former geeky engineer, I had to learn the truth about science the hard way - by homeschooling a herd of kids. ;) Who knew that some of the core principles of physics could be taught to young children with a study on roller coasters? Or that the concepts of orbit, light, and tides could be taught with a study of the moon and a plate of cookies?

I used to think of science as an area of academics that had to be learned and endured; a realm of formulas and theories that had to be memorized, categorized, and applied when necessary. I was WRONG, and began to understand my mistake when we started our second unit study - the space unit study. As I wrote Space, I began to see the universe as one big canvas - not divided up into bits and pieces of science. Concepts like gravity and orbit, trajectory and light - they showed up as understandable parts of the picture, full of wonder and "let's try this!" kinds of moments. From Copernicus to Isaac Newton, Galileo to Edwin Hubble, the explorers and wonderers have left a trail that isn't just science - it is history, geography, art, and much more.

Don't fear science - it's just one of the elements that they will discover as they explore, if you give them the chance. Curiosity, imagination, and tons of wonder await. Take a step out of the "standard" box and try it for yourself. What have you got to lose?

Amanda B.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What about you, Mom?

When I was young, I remember my mother getting up before daylight, quietly going to the kitchen and making coffee. She would sit at the kitchen table with her coffee, looking out the back window into the woods, enjoying the silence for a while, before we all woke up. I never understood just how important this time was until I had my own children, and now I appreciate her exasperated look when one of us would awaken early and wander out before daylight! :)

Here are a few ideas to help you begin taking care of yourself so that you can be your best to take care of your crew:

  • Try to get up early in the morning to have some quiet time before everyone wakes up – read the Bible, pray, and listen.
  • Keep a journal -- write in it every day. Not only does it help you see all that has been accomplished and record the daily happenings -- the simple act of journaling provides a constant steady reminder of the passing of time. As homeschoolers, we tend to get wrapped up in marking time by years until graduation, instead of enjoying the value of each and every day.
  • Make time to see just how far you have come. Go back through picture albums occasionally. Look back over goals from years past. See just how far your family has come, and you will also notice some new directions that need to be taken.
When you begin to take care of your needs, your children will learn a valuable lesson -- that everyone has needs that are very important. As parents, our needs tend to get pushed to the background and set aside, and this isn't healthy for the individual or the family.

As you head off to the call of children, thanks for sharing a cup of coffee during my quiet time this morning!

Amanda B.

Earth Science & Astronomy Sale and a Giveaway, too!

Let them explore - give them the sense of freedom while they explore the earth and the heavens! Children are born with curiosity that keeps expanding as we try to stay one step ahead of them. From card table tents to sidewalk chalk cities, they explore and imagine and keep wondering. Don't dim these precious traits with dry textbooks that are tedious and not very interesting!

Watch them wander through virtual volcanoes and caves, track the phases of the moon, learn about physics via roller coasters, and explore space from the kitchen table. We've got an amazing collection of earth science and astronomy titles on sale this week, ready for immediate use and adventure! 

In addition to the terrific science sale, we've got an out-of-this-world $100 CBD gift certificate giveaway! Make sure to enter the giveaway in the box below, and visit their site to see the amazing variety of books, movies, music, and more - perfect for homeschooling families!

What will YOU choose from CBD if you win the gift certificate?

Amanda B.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Taking Care of YOU - it is so important!

We hug them, love them, teach them, and share with them, wiping away tears, assuring
them that monsters are not in the closet or under the bed, even helping them through algebra. We are our children's caretakers, and we care for them so deeply and completely that we sometimes forget to care for ourselves. If we get too stretched out and burned out, we aren't as effective at taking care of others.

One of the things that I learned through my early years of homeschooling and being a full-time mom was that I had to take care of MOM first. One of the best analogies for this is the statement that is made when you are going through the safety talk before takeoff on an airplane: when the oxygen masks drop in an emergency, the adult should put her mask on first, then assist the child with his. We can't help our child if we are incapacitated—that's my interpretation. And this holds true in all that we do, particularly when it comes to parental well-being and the individual feeling of fulfillment.
Take time to make time for yourself - not being selfish, but remembering that we are so quickly drained if we keep running without a break. Begin by blocking off an hour each week that is YOUR time, no exceptions. Even if you go and sit in the library and read a magazine, just go! I learned early in my adventures at home that I had to make time for myself. I would have one night a week that I would go to the library--to read, enjoy the silence, and pray, all alone in the conference room. It can be so hard to make time for ourselves; there are so many other pressing needs that get in line ahead of our own. Just as in days gone by when folks would talk about having to "prime the pump" to get it working, we parents are the same way. We have to read, rest, relax, and get some “alone time.” We have to refill our own wells from time to time, re-priming the pump so that we are at our best.

You are capable of so many things, and with a little rest and lots of prayer, you can handle this precious responsibility. Remember, we're not asked to be perfect, but to be His, listening for His answers.

Amanda B.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bring History to Life - Unbelievable Characters!

Would you like to make American history truly come alive for your students? Check out our two big series sales that begin today!

1.  From the Download N Go™ series, a set of seven of our very popular American history titles, designed for grades K-4:

Only $25 for the set of 7 DNG titles - just $3.51 each! 
The set includes:
 Davy Crockett, Ben Franklin, Lewis & Clark, Prairie Pioneers, Constitution Celebration, Amelia Earhart, and George Washington


2.  From our Unit Study Adventure series, three of our most popular titles, designed for grades K-12 and full of American history:

Only $6 each for 4 weeks of learning - 
just $1.25 per week!

Introduce American history to your children in a way that will make it come alive! Our wide variety of titles can breathe life into the study of America's government, her heroes, and her history!  for your kids. What made Ben Franklin so curious? Travel through the wilderness with Lewis and Clark, and ride along on the hot, dusty journey across America with Prairie Pioneers. Did the pioneer children play while they were traveling? What kinds of games were there? All these people started out just like we did--as children. Now your family can learn together about the events that destined them for greatness!

Be ready to bring history to life with our American history titles, no prep required. Make this a living history year for your children, and watch them get excited about learning again!

Amanda B.

The winner of this giveaway is:     Kathrine Keller!

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Sensational Shark Co-op begins on Facebook TODAY!

Today's the day, and we are off and running, or swimming! :) Please join us over on our Facebook page as we begin a fun one-week learning co-op using our newest unit study, Sensational Sharks.  And don't miss the Ocean Wonders Library giveaway at the end of this post!

What a great way to launch into a new year of learning adventures - learning about something that fascinates and captivates many children of all ages! In Sensational Sharks, you and your child will learn about many different kinds of sharks. From video clips of hammerhead sharks swimming overhead, cleaner fish giving a shark a good scrub, to watching a baby shark hatch, the learning is interesting and exciting.

While we’ll all be working on the new Sensational Sharks unit study with our own families, on Facebook, you will find:
Community - Fun and laughter, along with book finds and apps
Caring - Teaching tips and encouragement
Creativity - Ideas, recipes, resources and craft projects

See you over on our Facebook page,
Amanda B.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Coffee Talk: Finding Their Interests - Lessons in Listening

Good morning! I've got one of my favorite mugs in hand, filled with hot coffee. It's a mug with a picture of a yellow Labrador retriever on it. This mug reminds me that a couple of puppies launched us on the path of discovering our children's interests, and changed our lives.

While we were busy studying the ocean, space, pioneers, and other interesting topics, our two older children had been saving up for a puppy. They wanted a puppy, talked about puppies nonstop, and kept chattering about what they would name the puppy. Time passed and they kept saving, doing all kinds of odd jobs for friends and family, and they save a LOT of money! They saved enough for TWO puppies! Before they bought puppies, they needed to learn about them - the care required, the costs, the training, etc. It was time for a unit study on dogs.

Our oldest dove right in, and couldn't learn enough about dogs. She absolutely lit up once we began that unit study, eventually getting a volunteer position with the local veterinarian. She has never stopped loving animals - she's a veterinarian today, and loves it!

Our middle child was struggling to read when we started the Dogs study. When we went into the library to pick out books for our dogs study, he insisted on going to the adult section of the library–he wanted the "real" dog books. He chose several AKC books on dogs, and we headed home with all kinds of dog books. He started reading the AKC books on his own and was fascinated. Once he had the motivation and interest, everything fell into place, and he became an avid reader.

When we finished the 4-week study, they bought two yellow lab puppies, and our lives were changed and blessed in so many ways. I learned to listen more carefully. They learned that their ideas and interests were very important. The interests of children are clues to their gifts and talents. They may not be able to name their interests just yet. Be patient. God's got a plan!

Amanda B.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Here's a Big Toothy Welcome to Sensational Sharks!

The sharks are coming! Get ready for one of the most thrilling Download N Go studies yet - Sensational Sharks is now available at a low introductory price of only $6! 

From the frills of the frilled shark to the wacky camouflage of the wobbegong shark, these fish come in all shapes and sizes. Filled with unforgettable learning adventures, Sensational Sharks will have your child:
    Discovering the many senses of sharks,
    Learning about the anatomy of sharks,
    Investigating the way that sharks breathe,
    Exploring one new kind of shark each day!

This is already one of our most popular unit studies, and the fun is just beginning. Don’t miss the fantastic giveaway at the end of this blog post! The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from ChristianBooks.com, one of my favorite places to shop! They have ALL KINDS of shark books and learning materials!

“Sensational Sharks will keep your kids engaged through amazing videos of sharks including a baby shark being hatched, shark skin experiment and kids petting sharks. In this unit study children will learn geography, science, history, math and more. There are scriptures and funny jokes throughout. Book, app and activity recommendations. And each day there is a interesting, "Did You Know?" Like, did you know that some sharks glow in the dark…” Kathy Balman, GA

Some of you are diving into Shark Week with your family this week, while others are getting ready to use this new study during our Sensational Shark Facebook Co-op week, which begins next Monday. Go ahead and get the study and get ready for an remarkable learning journey!

Diving right in,
Amanda B.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Coffee Talk: Figuring Out How To Homeschool

When our children were young, I got up early in the morning - just a bit ahead of them. I needed the time to pray, to study the Word, and to regain my perspective. Every day was a lesson for *me* when we first started homeschooling. I didn't have a clue about what was involved in teaching a child, but I knew that it was something that I had to do. 

We began with the textbooks they had been using in school, but it was easy to see that the learning from that method was not learning that would last. It was "surface" learning - just enough to do well on the tests and move on to the next part of the gauntlet of the "school year." The sparkle in the eyes of my curious children had vanished with the first days of kindergarten and "school," and it was time to rekindle that fire. 

And so it began, my commitment to bringing awe and wonder back into learning--first for my children, and eventually for yours. Thanks for your commitment to your children!

Amanda B.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It’s All About the Ducks

Here on the farm, we are smitten with ducks. We’ve got a farm pond, and we always have ducks paddling around in it. From the time the children were young, there have been white ducks, mallard ducks, wood ducks, and others. The children have loved having ducklings waddling around, and so have the grownups.

From the ducks, they learned about the life cycle of birds, the importance of taking care of them, and just how beautiful God’s animals can be. We loved learning how birds fly, how they nest, how their feathers work, and the importance of flying and swimming lessons. They will never forget reading books like Ping the Duck and Daniel’s Duck. We’ve carried over our love of ducks into the world of Duck Dynasty these days, enjoying the antics, as well as their times of prayer and emphasis on family. We are still talking about ducks, from points around the globe. ;)

Dynamic Ducks was a labor of love to write, as I tried to share our fascination with another one of God’s creations. I hope you and your crew enjoy it!

Amanda B.