Sunday, July 30, 2017

Benefits of Homeschooling

More and more people are choosing to homeschool their children these days because they have discovered the benefits of homeschooling. When I consider the benefits of homeschooling, I also see the reasons why I homeschool.

#1 To Provide a Christian Education

Proverbs 22:6 admonishes us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The scriptures do not leave us in doubt as to what “way” is meant. Christian parents are directly responsible to God for raising up children who know Him, love Him, and follow Him in every area of life.

“And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house and on thy gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

#2 To Provide a Custom-Made Education

Homeschooling allows you to customize your child’s curriculum to fit their learning style, readiness, interests, and abilities. And if one curriculum is not working, you have the freedom to stop and select a different curriculum – we have changed math curriculum in the middle of the year because it was not a good fit for our family.

#3 Flexibility

You don’t need a set time to homeschool. When you have a child living with multiple health issues and spend many days in a hospital or doctor’s office, you discover the joy of homeschooling is schooling around your schedule. Yes, I plan our curriculum out with a four-day-week to allow Friday off; but sometimes we have to homeschool on Friday if we have a doctor’s appointment one day during the week – I love this flexibility!

Homeschooling allows my family opportunities to participate in church ministries, music lessons, field trips, scouting, soccer, dance, and community volunteer work because it does not take all day to complete the school work.  

Homeschooling affords us some wonderful opportunities to shape our children’s lives and to tailor their education to their unique specifications. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its challenges. Next week, I will look at the challenges of homeschooling.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Rigid Wrap and Cellu-Clay Quik-Sculpting Kit - TOS Review

Creativity is an essential part of every child’s education and ACTÍVA Products bring you quality materials that are non-toxic and gluten-free with their Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit. The project kit includes two (4 inch x 5 yard) rolls of Rigid Wrap, one (8oz) CelluClay Instant Papier Mache, and complete instructions for twelve different projects.


Rigid Wrap is a plaster coated gauze that is made to the specifications of artists and craft people but easy enough for kids to use. Rigid Wrap takes any shape – simply cut, wet, shape, dry, and decorate!


Rigid Wrap is safe and easy to use for all skill levels. Simply, cut a piece of Rigid Wrap with conventional scissors and dip into warm water until completely immersed. Lift and let excess water drip off. Place on top of object and smooth with finger tips until you no longer see holes in the gauze. Please note, drying time depends on thickness, size, and environment.


ACTÍVA Products provides you with complete instructions for twelve different projects. Beginner projects provide you with the instructions to make a Rigid Wrap Butterfly, a CelluClay Dragonfly, a CelluClay Fish Pinata, a CelluClay Pencil Topper, a Rigid Wrap Pumpkin, a Rigid Wrap Mummy, a Rigid Wrap Peppermint Bowl, a Rigid Wrap Totem Pole, a Rigid Wrap Mardi Gras Mask, and a Rigid Wrap Spider Intermediate projects provide you with the instructions to make a CelluClay Beach Clock, a Rigid Wrap Ornament, and Rigid Wrap Beads.

ACTÍVA Products is excited to shares a brand new eBook ACTÍVA Products Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS that you can download for FREE! These projects use the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay products, both of which can be messy, so be sure to protect all work surfaces prior to beginning work. Children of all ages can use their creativity to make a Silly Spider, Bold Beads, a Deadly Dinosaur, a Beautiful Butterfly, a Terrific Totem Pole, a Piece of Cake, an Egyptian Sarcophagus, an Erupting Volcano, a Mardi Gras Mask, a Painted Pumpkin, a Peppermint Candy Bowl, or a Snowman Ornament. Our family got a little creative and made the Painted Pumpkin!

To make the Painted Pumpkin, blow up a balloon and tie it closed. Cut a dry roll of Rigid Wrap into 4” strips. Dip one strip of Rigid Wrap into warm water and wrap the balloon with the strip. Repeat using the other strips of Rigid Wrap, cover the balloon, going in different directions, and smooth the Rigid Wrap with your hands as you go. Twist the Rigid Wrap around the knot of the balloon to form a stem. Press the balloon bottom down on a flat surface to create a flat spot so the pumpkin will stand. Let everything set until completely dry.

Now it’s time to paint your pumpkin! It’s that simple!

Visit the Crew Blog to read more reviews!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

George Ranch Historical Park

Explore Four Generations: the 1830s Jones Stock Farm, the 1860s Ryon Prairie Home, the 1890s Davis Victorian Site, and the 1930s George Cattle Complex.
Embark on a trip through history with a visit to one of the earliest settlements of Northeast Mexico: the Henry and Nancy Jones Homestead. Interpreters recreate the conversations and daily chores, bringing life to Nancy and Henry Jones’ world – the gardens, farm, livestock, kitchens and homestead. Depending on the season, you might see “family members” tending the garden, caring for the livestock or performing domestic chores such as weaving or corn grinding.  Guests are encouraged to participate, so don’t be surprised if you are put to work in this fully hands-on environment.
  • The Dog-Trot Log Cabin: Explore pioneer living at its finest with this 1830s log-cabin replica. Guests get the opportunity to pick up and touch almost everything at this site which creates a truly immersive experience.
  • Summer Kitchen: Cooking before the modern kitchen could be quite a feat. Visit this outdoor kitchen which was used by the family almost year-round.
  • Stock Farm Outbuildings: A stock farm was only as efficient as the various outbuildings which provided support for the daily operations. Tour the smokehouse, barn, chicken coop and hog pen and learn about these important extensions of the family home.

Picture life in post-Civil War Texas with a visit to the home of Polly Ryon and her husband William during the rapid expansion of their ranching operations. Learn about this remarkable second generation story amidst a time of both great struggle and great change in both Texas and the United States.
  • Ryon Prairie Home:  Explore this Greek Revival home first built in 1851 for a first hand glimpse into the lifestyle of the unique family who lived and prospered here.
  • Ryon Prairie Home Outbuildings: Explore the gardens, chicken coop, and pig pen which made a Ranch a home in the mid-19th century. Then take a short walk to discover a reproduction sugar cane press at the back of the property.
  • Chuck Wagon Camp: Visit the chuckwagon camp and learn about the golden age of the cattle drive in this immersive outdoor environment.

Explore the waning days of the 19th century in the Victorian splendor of the Davis Complex. Learn about the third generation of the family at the Davis Mansion and then complete your tour by visiting the sharecropper farm and working blacksmith shop.
  • The Davis House: Get a feel for the very proper Victorian era by touring the elegant Davis House. This beautiful home depicts a prosperous lifestyle in the 1890s, and is a favorite of visitors of all ages.
  • The Original Family Cemetery: The family cemetery was established in the 1820s with the last burial in 1916. Many of the later generations of the family are buried in historic Morton Cemetery in Richmond.
  • Oldenburg Blacksmith: Learn the importance of the blacksmith trade as you watch craftsmen at work. Following tradition, the blacksmith makes most of the simple metal tools and equipment needed on the Ranch today.
  • The Sharecropper’s Farm: Step into the daily life of a working Sharecropper farm in the era after the Civil War. Learn how freed slaves and displaced soldiers survived by engaging in this often unfair system of tenant farming.
  • Line Camp: Visit this rustic shelter used by the ranch cowboys to take refuge during the night while riding the extensive property lines. Learn how the cattle industry was forever changed when the open range was enclosed with barbed wire fencing.
  • The Rail Car and Longhorn Pens: Explore an exhibit that presents the ways cattle were moved to market from this part of Texas … some went by trails, some by rails and even some by sails.  A group of ranch raised Longhorns are in an adjacent pasture.

    Mamie George, with her husband A.P.’s assistance, was the last descendent of Henry and Nancy Jones to oversee this ranching operation. Listen to the last chapter of this amazing family story and explore the home and barns which are original to the 1930s and 1940s.

  • The George Ranch Home: Take a tour of the George Ranch Home which still stands where it was built at the turn-of-the-century (designed by renowned Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton). The house is still filled with many of the George family furnishings.
  • Cowboy Barns and Working Pens: The original barns and working pens set the stage for our interpretive programs on ranching in the 1930s and 1940s. See the cowboys working cattle in the front pens (sorting, roping and more). Also, watch the cowboys tend to the cattle in the chute before sending them into one of the few dipping vats still in existence in the United States.
    Visit for more information and to plan a visit!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trust Fund - TOS Review

Mapelle Films presents Trust Fund – a widescreen DVD of the prodigal son story portrayed through two sisters. Reese Donahue, the younger sister, is a talented writer who just returned from a writing workshop in Italy. As she waits to share all the details with her father, she happened to see some personal papers on her father’s desk and discovered that her mother had left her and her sister money. Doing the unthinkable, Reese betrays her father and chases after what she thinks is love. She leaves her family and friends to go back to Italy and back to Milo – where she helps him with his finances. Once she gave the first bit of money, it didn’t stop there. He knew she had more and he ended up draining the bank account. After she realized that Milo was buying stolen goods with her money, she is devastated and she knew it was time to go home. When she returns home with nothing but regret, her father’s forgiveness teaches her what love really means.

Sandra Martin started writing Trust Fund in January of 2013, she shot it in 2014 and had a small limited release through AMC theaters in January of 2016. The film did very well in the Kansas City market, but she simply didn’t have the funds to market it in other cities. She will be releasing it in the home entertainment market on July 18, 2017.

Love Was Near, offers a deeper look into the movie, TrustFund, exposing what’s behind the story and what Reese is thinking. If you will watch the film first, you will see that the main character writes this book during the film. Reese invites you to join her on a very personal journey as she shares with you her everyday struggles through her personal diary pages. Each section leads us to “What do you think?” questions about our own identity, purpose, and life plan. Sandra Martin writes this book to all young women that don’t know their worth, and haven’t been told they are irreplaceable.

Mapelle Films has designed a download study guide that can be used for small groups. It’s divided into four parts, each with a corresponding scene from the movie, scriptures, and questions. Another great way to dig deeper into the themes of the movie!

The film will shine light on some important issues that we need to be talking to our daughters about. After watching the film with my three daughters (ages 15, 14, and 11), we were able to read through the book and further discuss love, relationships, and the importance of a budget. I hope you enjoy the movie!

Visit the Crew Blog to read more reviews!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Writing for the Future

No matter what we do in life, it is necessary to write, and the more our writing improves, the better we will communicate. Teaching writing can be intimidating, especially if you don't feel like a good writer. Here are some tips you can use to encourage your students to write.

Make family reading a priority in your home, even if it is once a week. The benefits of exposure to literature are endless. We read the Mandie series, biographies, carefully chosen classics, and more. You can often tell which students have been read to or are readers. They have a sense of what sounds right when writing because they have been exposed to good literature. Reading quality literature together is a huge step towards developing your child's writing skills.

Let your students see you writing. Even if the only things you write are letters, lesson plans, and grocery lists, you are still writing. Keep writing and encourage your students to do so.

When it comes to writing, especially for reluctant writers, fun is the key. Engage students by finding short, interesting activities to start. Try writing a continuing story, silly poem, or a family newspaper together.

This can take a variety of forms, ranging from a current events journal to a field trip journal. this can be done daily or weekly, depending on your schedule. Encourage your student to write and then share their writing with the rest of the family.

Let the grammar go while they get their ideas on paper. It can be hard sometimes; I know! But it's important to let them be creative and realize that they can write. Don't hover over them pointing out errors. Yes, grammar is important, and it has its place in a student's learning plan; but wouldn't you rather see them feel comfortable getting their ideas down as opposed to hating to write?

If the Lord has called you to teach your children at home, then He will provide the means to see it through. There are many resources available to help inspire students to write. Explore these many resources and then as the Lord to help you determine which one is just right for your student. Nothing is too small or insignificant to pray about - even teaching writing!

Your students will need to write no matter what they do in life. Be patient, they are works in progress. Help them stretch their writing and they'll be writing for the future.

Happy Homeschooling!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Making Music

I have three daughters who are very excited! We just traveled home from Illinois with a baby grand piano! I used to play this piano when we would attend church with my mom and dad; and now I am so glad to have it in my home. Brieanna and Kaylee both play piano very well and Isabelle is just beginning to play, so our family will have many more memories making music!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Developmental Benefits of Art

Many homeschool parents seem to avoid art because of the mess, or because they believe they are not creative enough to teach art. Others seem to think of art as an extracurricular activity that isn’t important and does not relate to academics. Let me change your mind about that.

Educators tell us that art encourages fine motor skills, neural development, and problem-solving abilities and that it can be used effectively to teach and understand other key subjects such as reading, writing, math, and science. Therapists tell us that art is valuable because it allows children to process their world, to deal with sometimes scary emotions in a safe way, and because it gives them critical sensory input. Artists tell us that art is important for its own sake – as a source of beauty and expression, as well as simply for the process of creating. Let us look a bit further and see the developmental benefits of art.

Developmental Benefits of Art

Motor Skills: Many of the motions involved in making art, such as holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon, are essential to the growth of fine motor skills in young children. According to the National Institutes of Health, developmental milestones around age three should include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children may be able to draw a square and begin cutting straight lines with scissors. Many preschool programs emphasize the use of scissors because it develops the dexterity children will need for writing.

Language Development: For very young children, making art—or just talking about it—provides opportunities to learn words for colors, shapes and actions. When toddlers are as young as a year old, parents can do simple activities such as crumpling up paper and calling it a “ball.” By elementary school, students can use descriptive words to discuss their own creations or to talk about what feelings are elicited when they see different styles of artwork.

Decision Making: According to a report by Americans for the Arts, art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.

Visual Learning: Drawing, sculpting with clay and threading beads on a string all develop visual-spatial skills, which are more important than ever. Even toddlers know how to operate a smart phone or tablet, which means that even before they can read, kids are taking in visual information. This information consists of cues that we get from pictures or three-dimensional objects from digital media, books and television.

“Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past,” says Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University. “Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.” Knowledge about the visual arts, such as graphic symbolism, is especially important in helping kids become smart consumers and navigate a world filled with marketing logos.

Inventiveness: When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives. “The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,” says Kohl. “Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!”

Improved Academic Performance: Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievement. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.

Art is foundational to other learning, and it does teach!

Happy Homeschooling!