Archive for September, 2009

The one thing that I noticed when doing this for my daughter, was how broad the topic of plants can be. She originally asked for a flower unit study, but I was unable to find one. I found a super easy on plants, but I felt it was not complicated enough to provide a challenge  for upper elementary age children. I was a little overwhelmed, as I could have made this study quite extensive, but I figured this was a start. If my daughter shows interest we could study flowers, trees, fruits, vegetables, or a deeper study on botany.

There is several things that can be drawn, as my daughter is very interested in art, but it could be easily done by finding pictures of the plants or labeling a pre-made diagram.

Like I mentioned in the NASCAR unit, my hope is to have my daughter gather the info, and then make a presentation in the form of a lapbook or scrapbook page(s).

Plant Unit Study


DK Eyewitness Books Plant by David Burnie

How Do Plants Grow? By Melissa Stewart

Seeds by John Farndon

Plant Life by Peter Riley

The Flower Hunter by Deborah Kogan Ray
















parasitic plant


cross pollination

self pollination

Answers to find:

  1. Tell and/or draw about the cycle of photosynthesis.
  2. What are the different ways seeds can spread?
  3. What are the parts of plants we eat? Draw some
  4. What are some of the uses of plants?
  5. Draw and/or label the parts of a plant
  6. Draw and /or label the parts of a flower
  7. How do plants pollinate?
  8. Tell and/or draw the life cycle of a plant
  9. What are the 2 major types of plants?


William Bartram

(using the book The Flower Hunter by Deborah Kogan Ray)

  1. When did William live?
  2. What does a botanist do?
  3. How many siblings did he have?
  4. How did he identify plant families?
  5. What famous colonial person was friends with his father? And what were they interested in?
  6. Where did he go on his first long journey with his father?  Include states surrounding the area.
  7. What war had the colonists scared when he was a boy? How long did it last?
  8. As an adult, where did he go with his father?
  9. Name the 4 Native American tribes he spent time with on his journey.
  10. How far was his journey west?
  11. Draw pictures of 2-3 plants William and his father identified. Label with the names of the plants

Read Full Post »

NASCAR Unit Study

I decided to go ahead and post this study. After I got finished adjusting it, much of it was very different from the original. I did not divide it up into subjects, because at this point, I am not ready to do all of that. I want the kids to be able to research the information and put it into writing or narrate it to me. I wanted to include a diagram to label, but I could not find one online that not overly complex. I included a “Biography” section, as I love the idea of relating the information to a real person. I skimmed over the book and created questions for my son to answer. So much more could be added to this unit if the child shows interest (there were many more vocabulary terms, and other info).

My hope is to have my son gather this information, then we will take the information to make a lapbook, scrapbook or other type of presentation type thing that would showcase his work.

NASCAR Unit Study

Inspired by: http://www.easyfunschool.com/article2175.html


DK Eyewitness Books NASCAR by James Buckley, Jr

Dale Earnhardt: Star Race Car Driver by Paul Steenkamer

Wild Wheels! Hottest NASCAR Machines by K.C. Kelley

NASCAR behind the Scenes by Mark Stewart & Mike Kennedy

NASCAR the Need for Speed by Mike Johnstone



Vocabulary: (use NASCAR website for definitions or books on NASCAR for definitions)



Engine block

Fire wall

Fuel cell




Pole position

Pit road

Pit stall


Super Speedway

Sway bar


Victory lane

Weight jacking

Answers to find:

  1. What does the acronym NASCAR stand for?
  2. Who is the founding father of NASCAR?
  3. Write a description of the ideal race car or an imagined race car.
  4. Locate racetracks in the US and mark them on a map.
  5. Locate the hometowns of various NASCAR drivers
  6. Build a legos or K’Nex race car
  7. Draw a race car
  8. Why are people fascinated by car racing or speed?
  9. What are the meanings of the different flags? Draw, color and label
  10. Discuss safety and the importance of rules in NASCAR
  11. NASCAR Timeline: should include the following: Birth of NASCAR; Around what year did it switch from racing passenger cares to true race cars; Around what year(s) did NASCAR go from regional to national; When did the Brickyard 400 debut; When did the Daytona 500 debut; When did NASCAR turn 50 years old
  12. What are the 4 different track types?  Trace and label the outline (be sure to label the distance also)
  13. Name some of the race tracks ,their distance and location. Label or point out location on a map
  14. What does the number next to a race’s name indicate?
  15. In what year did the first stock car race occur (not NASCAR)? How many miles? Where was it held?
  16. Name at least 3 of the most successful NASCAR drivers and where they are from. What do you think makes them successful?


Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

  1. What is his full name?
  2. When and where was he born?
  3. What did he say about dropping out of school?
  4. Was it easy for him to start his career in racing? Why?
  5. Did he do well at first?
  6. When did he get his “big break”? Who helped him and how?
  7. When did he go full-time as a stock car racer?
  8. How many tries did it take for him to win the Daytona 500? Was he upset it took him that long?
  9. Discuss his driving style and what other people thought of it.
  10. What are some consequences of breaking the rules while racing?
  11. How long was his longest losing streak? What race ended it?
  12. What did he enjoy doing when he wasn’t racing?
  13. When and how did he die?
  14. Make a timeline using the information gathered, feel free to add other events talked about in the book.

Read Full Post »

Well it’s happened… OUR ROOF IS FINISHED! YAY! It looks so beautiful! Our house looks so different, now if only we could fix up some of the siding and get it painted, it would be perfect 😉 The guys that were doing the labor part of the work, did really well. They came on Saturday, but it was raining, so they asked if they could come on Sunday. I told them IF they wanted to they could, but I was not going to tell them they HAD to come then. But to my surprise the head fella said that they had very little work all week because of the rain so its not a big deal. So at 7:30 am Sunday the were hard at work….I am sure our neighbors really appreciated it 😉 No major things went wrong, Praise God! They found a 3rd layer of shingles (not a surprise with this house, but of course the insurance company did not see it, even though *I * thought I saw 3 layers looking at the roof line) and had to replace some decking (again, not much of a surprise from a house built in the 50s).

Homeschooling is going ok. I LOVE the way Spelling is going right now! I borrowed the idea from http://mrshappyhousewife.com/homeschooling/spelling/using-mcguffeys-spelling-book.html and  here is how I modified it to fit our family:

Day 1 – Note- When we got through with the first cycle of this, right after they either passed the quiz or are done with the test, we do this step. Then the next day they write the words…Oral spelling bee- we go down the list and they try to spell the words. If they miss the word, it goes on an index card (each child has a different color card and I have a color for the “master” list I keep) When they reach 10 they are done. I used a post-it flag marker to keep track of where they are at.

Day 2-  Write words 5x’s each

Day 3- Write the words, parts of speech and definitions

Day 4 – Written quiz (if they make a 100%, we go to Day 1, if not go to Day 5)

Day 5- Write missed words 10x’s (most of the time the kids are eager to do it on Day 4)

Day 6- Spelling test – go back to Day 1, any words that are missed are added to next list.

So I hope you understand that after I started this, it is not a 6 Day plan in reality! It was just easier for all of us to roll Day 1 at the end of Day 4 or 6. Sometimes, if they did really well on the quiz and understand the word(s) missed, I will let them go a head and write the word 10x’s that day. And instead of waiting ANOTHER day, I will just give them the test the next day. We do not do 1 list a week, most of the time its 1 1/2 lists, if that makes sense? Its not about getting it done fast, its about what works for us! :)When I was writing down my goals for this year, I was unsure how to deal with spelling since it was a go-at-your-own-pace type of deal using the McGuffey Eclectic Spelling book (available free at Project Gutenberg ). I decided to go off of the approximate grade of the the words (since the books goes from really easy words all the way to high school/college level words). I have had to go through and look up some words to see if they could even be found in modern dictionaries, and there have been a few that are not in there.

Brendan has almost met his goal for the year already and the other two are going along just fine. I noticed that James was having issues spelling words orally. He would just rattle them off and mix up the letters, and he was missing EASY words, that I knew that he knew. I decided to let him use a scratch sheet of paper, and jot them down, and then spell them aloud. It has cut down on the mistakes, and if he messes up orally, I can look at his scratch sheet and see how he spelled it. There have been a few times that it was correct on the paper, but he spelled it wrong orally.

Using SOS Math, is going well. I am thinking I will supplement occasionally with written work sheets. There are some little things I don’t like about the curriculum especially the way it handles some of the carrying and borrowing problems. But overall the kids are excited about it, and their grades are good.

The Heart of Wisdom studies have been going alright. It has been really hard to find a “groove”. I think that Hubby is not crazy about it from our discussions. I am pretty sure he like the idea behind it and how it works, just not the unit studies. I really felt that it was something that would work for us, and maybe it will when the children are older, but I think that they would benefit from something else. What that is, I am not sure.

I did decide this week that we will try unit studies (and lapbooks  when we can or just turn the unit studies into lapbooks!). I want the kids to be excited in what they are studying, and we don’t have a lot of money to go out and “try” another curriculum. So I had them pick 3 things they wanted to learn about. I took the lists and tried to find some unit studies on the topics chosen. If I had trouble finding it, I would suggest some alternatives. You have to understand I have never done this for this age group. I was taught how to make up unit studies for preschoolers (when I was studying to earn my CDA), which is just a bunch of fun stuff lol. In my mind, I am having trouble reaching down and finding that creativity I had while I was in school for that! LOL Anyway, Abby settled on plants, James on NASCAR, and Brendan on Chemistry. That is 3 VERY different topics! I had such issue last night at the library, I did not know that some of the Jr nonfiction was actually in the adult section! I had thought that IF it was labeled  J NONFIC that it would be in the children’s area…but I am glad I figured it out, or else these unit studies would be sooooooooooo boring! Last night I started going through the books to see what I needed to do. I did find some unit studies on the topics, but I want to add more questions to answer or modify the studies a bit. After I get that done, I will give them the list and let them find the answers. We will then take the info and make a lapbook or make scrap book pages to add to their portfolios. Depending on how this all works out and what changes I make, I will share about each unit study, complete with the questions we answered, what we did and what books and websites we used…If it turns out to be just like the links above, then I won’t share the specifics so I don’t infringe on any copyrights 🙂

And lastly, I am hoping to find a good music theory program, I saw one on the Alpha-Omega curriculum site that was made by a different company. Its on the computer, but we would have to wait and see. I am also hoping to start a Spanish unit study , with some help from my bilingual hubby 🙂 He will need to review the words, as some of them are not really used in everyday conversation. He likens it to English in that the way we write typically is not how we talk, its(writing) generally more “proper”. My main concern is that I don’t want them using a word, that may have a TOTALLY different meaning in everyday conversation, if you know what I mean!

Read Full Post »

First I want to share a trailer to the movie, Joshua (2002) and this is NOT the new movie that just came out. Those who know me, know that the 2002 movie is on my list of all-time faves 🙂

I could go on for quite a while on all the elements of this movie, but I won’t 😉 I will say, that almost every time I watch it, I cry, just seeing a little glimpse of the love God has for all of His children.

There is a scene in the movie that came to mind this morning, while seriously thinking about things that I have been pondering/praying about lately…Forgive me as I try to describe it, as I am not very good at remembering *exact* lines, and I am horrible at trying to describe stuff like this…

In this scene, Maggie (who lost her husband some time ago), is talking to Joshua at the barn he is staying at. If I remember right, there is an awkward moment, where they are standing there, and she almost kisses him, and He basically says “I am not the one…” and she is greatly embarrassed at it, because she thinks that she *loves* him since he is so *perfect* .

While she is bumbling and starting to try to get it all out…”I just miss my husband…my life is a mess” and Joshua says “Your life is beautiful” . And she picks up this crystal vase, and says something along these lines “My life is not beautiful….its broken” and throws down the vase and it shatters…she runs out , and the scene closes as Joshua kneels down and picks up the pieces…

You, know that is how I am feeling about a lot of things in my life…that its not beautiful…The past week, I have been taking a real long, hard look at myself, and it definitely “ain’t” pretty. I am harboring a lot of crud inside, and its been bubbling over for quite some time. (Forgive me as I try to convey what I am thinking,  it may seem like I am beating myself up, but I am not, I just feel that some of these battles should be out in the open…for too long Christians have hid their struggles trying to maintain “perfection” and I REFUSE to go that route….). For several years now, I have been dealing with unforgiveness towards many in my past. I have been dealing with the hurt of a church home that fell apart right when I (thought I)needed it the most. I have been dealing with my past relationships, and my own selfishness…

Oooh that’s a real tough one. Selfishness. ugh. that tastes bitter. Its hard to admit, but I am selfish. I don’t want to do this or that, I don’t want to get out of my comfort zone, I don’t want to give, or take or whatever unless it satisfies whatever I want it to.  Ok, so maybe not everyone sees selfishness as necessarily bad, especially in our culture. Here its always about what you want, what you can get, and how it makes you feel. If it feels good…do it.   But I am here saying, its hindering me more than helping…its not fulfilling, and I am setting a horrible example for my family. Some of you may not believe me when I say this, but Hubby is probably one of the least selfish  people I know….he gives and gives and gives to us as a husband and father, and sometimes *I* feel (no, *he* does not EVER make me feel like this) like take take take and give nothing or very little back.  And maybe that is not how it really is, but the way I perceive it to be.  If that makes any sense! lol

Overall, I want a change of heart on all those matters. And as the song goes : “I don’t go through the motions, I don’t want to go one more day, without Your all-consuming passion inside of me….” The adversary has had me where he wanted me for quite some time now, and I am taking the step towards God. All the confusion, all the guilt…I’m done. finished. period. especially over those things that are in my PAST. I am ready for the joy and freedom to return. I am done with those who enjoy condemning people based on their past (like I have said…better get that tree out of *your* eye first). I am ready to start growing again!

Towards the end of  Joshua, he is leaving on a journey and leaves a gift for Maggie…a crystal princess figurine…What a moment, she was finally saw how beautiful her life is/was regardless of what happened…and it was because of what He made out of the shattered pieces…. May I let God put my shattered pieces back together….amen.

I want to leave you all with this video of a skit. A friend shared it last week on facebook, and I found myself crying… its passionate and beautifully done.

Read Full Post »

We are studying today about beauty of creation 🙂 I love that the Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach premade unit studies included this in the Creation unit! Today we have been looking at art books, reading poetry, and listening to music about the wonder of creation and God’s good works 🙂

I just wanted to take a quick moment to share one of those songs (that is also one of my faves). While the video wasn’t exactly what I wanted to share (besides my personal annoyances with the typical images of Messiah, I am glad they do show a variety of different depictions…), it is still beautiful!

Read Full Post »

Very thought provoking…..

I found this poem in: The Best Loved Poems of the American People,Selected by Hazel Felleman, copywrite 1936 by Doubleday & Company, Inc

Author of Poem: unknown

If you want to have the kind of a church
Like the kind of church you like,
You needn’t slip your clothes in a grip
And start on a long, long hike,
You’ll only find what you left behind,
For there’s nothing really new.
It’s a knock at yourself when you knock your church;
It isn’t the church-its you.

When everything seems to be going wrong,
And trouble seems everywhere brewing;
When prayer meeting, Young People’s meeting, and all,
Seem simmering slowly-stewing,
Just take a look at yourself and say,
“What’s the use in being blue?”
Are you doing your “bit” to make things “hit”?
It isn’t the church-its you.

It’s really strange sometimes, don’t you know,
That things go as well as they do,
When we thing of the little-the very small mite-
We add to the work of the few.
We sit, and stand round, and complain of what’s done,
And do very little but fuss.
Are we bearing our share of the burdens to bear?
It isn’t the church- it’s us.

So, if you want to have the kind of a church
Like the kind of a church you like,
Put off your guile, and put on your best smile,
And hike, my brother, just hike,
To to the work in hand that has to be done-
The work of saving a few.
It isn’t the church that is wrong, my boy;
It isn’t the church- it’s you.

Read Full Post »

It seems like God had His hands in me finding this article series 🙂 I read all 5 parts, and feel that its been a huge blessing to have read…now for working on some changes in myself! (with God’s help of course!) To read the other articles, there are links to the next one at the bottom of each article.

The Difficult Child, Part 1.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »