Friday, December 01, 2017

Christmas Books We Love!


Our family loves to read Christmas books.  We have  plastic totes we get out each year filled with Christmas books.  The kids love reading their favorites each year, and I wanted to share some. 

We are big fans of Laura Numeroff and enjoy reading about our favorite mouse.

Jan Brett is an amazing illustrator.  The Twelve Days of Christmas is one we read each year.

My all time favorite book is The Best Christmas Christmas Pageant Ever!  I met the author Barbara Robinson years ago at a little bookstore in Atlanta.  She was oh so delightful!  Signed my book as if it was from the Herdsman kids.  I love the video too.  Loretta Swift from Mash is the main star. 

My so, Jonathan's favorite book is Mooseltoe! He laughed so hard when reading as a little guy. 

My all time favorite book as a child.  Love Scratch and Sniff.  

I always love Patricia Pollocco.

A couple other favorites.

What are your favorites??  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Geography by Christy Gould

My friend Christy Gould  did this amazing study with her kids on geography  I love it!  I hope you enjoy it as well.    

Last spring, a sort of perfect storm of book acquisition spiraled us into studying world geography this year. I was browsing a used curriculum sale when a world geography book (for practically free) caught my eye. As I tucked it away on a shelf for “future use,” a workbook on famous missionaries that I’d purchased a few months earlier caught my eye. (Clearly, I have a problem with buying things without a clear intention to use them.)

With both of those things in hand, I decided to splurge on a literature guide I’d heard great things about. GiveYour Child the World, by Jamie Martin, is sort of like Honeyfor a Child’s Heart with a global focus: lists of books – the best books – divided up by age and continent. I jotted down a quick plan for the year – a global overview in September, and one continent per month after that – and made a note of which missionaries we’d study for each. Then I opened up Give Your Child the World and went absolutely nuts putting books on hold at the library!

Since the beginning of September, lunch time has become our geography read-aloud time. I keep all of the related books in one place, so the kids or I can grab one or two every day and bring it to the table. We’ve had excellent discussions on food, water, poverty, disease, architecture, and more. The missionary studies are best suited for older elementary, so my oldest has done those on his own, while his next-younger brother helps with the generic geography text. Here they are, using our big wall world map to find rivers and lakes in Africa:

In order to synthesize the different information we’re taking in through fiction and nonfiction children’s books as well as the geography workbook, we’re making posters of each continent. I (well, my husband, truthfully) used the projector at church to project continent outlines onto the wall, where I taped up poster board and traced it on in pencil. Each time we read a story about a new country, I label that country in Sharpie. The boys have added mountains, big cities, rivers, lakes, and topography with markers as they learned about them.

Among the books I got from the library in September were two kids’ cookbooks. My children are not adventurous eaters, but I thought this might help broaden their palates. Sure, they all eagerly agreed that they would LOVE to try sweet raisin couscous for breakfast when we stood in the grocery store aisle and picked it out, but it was unanimously voted down the next morning. (By the children, that is. My husband and I loved it!) We’ll keep trying, anyway.

All of these pictures are of our Africa study, because that was our October focus. We’re well into North America at the time of this writing, and it continues to be a favorite subject as we read good literature and add details to our poster! We’re learning how to use the encyclopedia set to look up country facts, we’re reading chapter books set in different countries, we’re studying artwork and noticing differences between those children and ourselves. I made the decision to study geography this year on a whim, but I’m so glad I did!

Christy Gould is the wife of a pastor and a homeschooling stay-at-home mom to five boys under eight. When she’s not refereeing little-boy disputes, you can find her in the kitchen, whipping up real-food meals and toiletries in equal measure. She chronicles her adventures in homeschooling and life at

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Charlotte Mason article Summary by Amy Lapain

My sweet friend Amy Lapain summarized this wonderful article. I found it fabulous and thought you would too. She will check back and answer any questions in the comments.

This post is my narration / retelling of the article Improving Reading Comprehension Through Retelling as written in the Summer '08 Charlotte Mason Educational Review. This is part one...focusing on the background and current brain research.

There are five paths to long term memory
  • Semantic - understanding words
  • Episodic - associated with location
  • Procedural - repetition of movement
  • Automatic - conditioned response triggered by a stimulus
  • Emotional - feelings

Teachers rely on semantic but emotional is the most effective. The article gives potential reasons for this but I prefer less specific banter..It is what it is...I've seen it. In addition to reasons, the article also lists ways to enhance learning. Here are some we have done and will continue to enhance learning to make emotional connections.
  • Act out the book with "characters" 
  • Do real world math. Just yesterday at a birthday part a kiddo was adding up his loot for a future trip to target. 15+10= $25 bucks man! I have to caution myself on this. Sometimes just play should be is not ALWAYS a lesson
  • Field Trips (more on that below.
  • Draw during narration
  • Build Models- we did this as part of a homeschool lego class
  • Experience Books

Here are some things I WANT to do:
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Use various techniques such as videotaping to encourage narration
  • Ask less, listen more
  • Build a peer group, of just a couple of kid, to see if this encourages narrating. (More on that in a later blog as peer narration is talked about extensively in the article.)
  • Build more models

Making Connections
Another interesting point made is that those who are experts in a certain area tend to put info in much larger chunks. I know Andrew is a 'global' thinker. I recently blogged on my arts blog about how Andrew made a connection between waves in a puddle and the vibrations on musical instruments. I don't think this way- but i'd like to. I have a short long term memory. Aut-2-B-homerecently directed me back to the Childlight Reviews and an article on scaffolding learning. I had read it, printed it, and even narrated on it via my blog...and still I forgot quite a bit. But I do have the general sense in my brain. I wonder how you make those global connections better as an adult??? I guess just doing it more helps you get better;)

The next section in the article tells us more on this- the HOW to make connections.
The best way to relate information read or presented is to correlate it to personal information. This could include graphic organizers or even pictures from a field trip. We have done oodles of Experience Books so perhaps I will pull these out even as we re-visit the same places over and over again. . Other ideas to cement things to personal experience includes field trips. I ponder how the public schools do field trips all the time- but what do they DO at the field trips??? I have seen them at Cranbrook, the Detroit Zoo, and the Detroit Institute of Arts with clipboards, worksheets and pen answering specific questions as related by the teacher or instructor. I think providing direction is important and it often frustrates me that Andrew wants to go off in his own direction; but when he does that he often finds his own connections. I need to continue working on the GUIDED participation as I don't feel that is cemented yet but it is sometimes nice just to go for a walk and see where it takes us. It is difficult to toggle back and forth between the two. (Any suggestions are welcome.) But these connections / discoveries are much greater for the child when made by the child. We need to provide the scaffolding but let the child remove the tarp to discover what is underneath.

Spencer, Jennifer. (2008) Improved Reading Comprehension Through Retelling. Charlotte Mason Educational Review. pg 13
Wolfe, P. (2001). Brain matters: translating research into classroom practice. Alexandria, VA. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

November Thankful for my Readers Give-Away

Fall seems like it is finally here in Southern Ohio.  The leaves are falling and my children thankfully want to still make big piles and jump into them.  I am so thankful for all the readers and friends I have met through Ohio Homeschool Assessments over the last 8 years.  

We have almost gotten to 200,000 hits.  Which is rather amazing to me.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Guest Post: Living Math Books

Over the next year. . I have many friends to help me with keeping up the blog. So there will be a variety of guest posts by different authors. I will try to post as well. This week is from a dear friend of mine who wishes to be anonymous. So without further ado . . . Living Math Books

Math.. some love it.. Some hate it.  You would think as an engineer by training I would be in the love it category, but alas, not so much.  Teaching it to a challenging learner was not really a bag of fun either!  But, since my son is a reader, he gravitated toward “living math books.”  There is a website that details many living math books but here are some of our favorites.

We love the Dave Ramsey kids’ books.  The current ones on his website look different than the ones we purchased many years ago but I am guessing the idea is the same.  The child in the book had a ‘money challenge’ to save, or earn or give and it played itself out.  My son really enjoyed these.  

Many people in the homeschooling community are familiar with Life of Fred  Since we started homeschooling, they have increased their line of books.  But just recently I was even able to find one at the library.  I nabbed it up, took it home and just set it on the kitchen table.  Low and behold, he picked it up and read it.  The subject is algebra.  Funny story; he is in public school right now and did not do too well in algebra (although he excelled at geometry.)  If they taught it this way in school he might have done better.  (Alas.. there are always trade-offs.).

When my son was younger he loved the books by Cindy Neuschwander including the Sir Cumference series which uses Medieval times to introduce geometry (and other)  concepts at an early age. Another series along this same line are the books by Greg Tang including The Grapes of Math and Math for all Seasons.

Finally, we love the Basher Books and they have one on Math called, Math: a Book You Can Count On.   If you purchase scholastic books at all you can sometimes find these for a real deal especially as a group of books, but they are really inexpensive.  I really like to just strew books like this about and see what sticks.  Often concepts I never seemed able to “teach” were grasped when received in their own time

Monday, September 25, 2017

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey by Dion Leonard

Bring home the incredible true story of a friendship so strong that it crosses the globe! You will love the inspiring tale of Gobi, a lost dog who kept pace with an ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, across a vast desert. Follow their unlikely friendship through the challenges of an 80-mile race and Dion’s struggle to bring Gobi home for good.
Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey is the incredible true story of Dion Leonard, an athlete who was befriended by a stray dog while running an ultramarathon through the Gobi Desert. Named for the desert in which he found her, Gobi became Dion’s closest companion for 77 miles of the 155-mile race across China. The scrappy little pup ran mile after mile alongside Dion, through treacherous conditions and across raging rivers. He let her sleep in his tent and share his food, and eventually, his focus shifted from winning to the newfound friendship he and Gobi shared.
They crossed the finish line together—not first, but together—and Dion decided to bring Gobi home to Scotland. Just before they were about to leave, however, Gobi disappeared, setting off a worldwide search for the stray. In a town of more than 3 million people, the search seemed hopeless, but this tale of friendship will surprise and delight you as you find out what happens!
Join the almost too-good-to-be-true story of hope, friendship, and beating incredible odds in Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey by Dion Leonard.

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard tells the true story of a dog named Gobi who was found by Dion Leonard in his race through the Gobi Desert. They finished together and Dion wanted to bring him home to Scotland. Unfortunately, Gobi went missing while Dion was making arrangements for her move. The book shares the story of how Dion found her in his search across China, and the many friends who supported him. Gobi lives with Dion today.

I am always excited to find quality books for young readers. I loved that his was a true story of courage and determination. The story is heartwarming and I felt good about giving it to my nine-year-old daughter to read.

She liked the book, and highly recommends it. She loved the races and when they found Gobi. She liked how the book was about the relationship between Gobi and Dion. She also enjoyed learning about the different places they traveled to including the Great Wall of China. There were wonderful photos in the book that made it more real.

This book is for fourth to sixth grade readers, and as a read aloud for younger student.  

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 18, 2017

Guest Post: Painted Rocks. .by Lisa McAfee

 My friend Lisa is helping me out again.  You know that any article that starts with the word camping is not one written by me. ~Becky

Camping is a great family activity to do in the fall since the temperatures are cooler and colorful trees can be enjoyed. I saw a facebook group called Homeschool Rocks and thought decorating and hiding rocks with encouraging words or pictures would be a fabulous idea for a fun activity while you are camping.  I have included academic areas for you in parentheses so you can see how it applies to school. :)
You Will Need:
a bucket of warm, soapy water
paper towels
a pencil
outdoor acrylic paints
paint brushes
waterproof markers
Elmer's glue
Modge Podge or some type of outdoor sealant
a plastic jar or another container
plastic grocery bags- one per person
  1. Collect First of all, you and the children collect rocks that you want to paint. The best kinds are smooth, especially for younger children since they will paint more easily.  (PE is covered since you are getting exercise hunting for rocks.)
  2. Clean After you have determined which rocks you would like to paint, clean them in a bucket filled with warm, soapy water. Rinse them and place on some paper towels to dry. The paint will adhere much better to a clean surface, and your children will be getting their dirty hands clean at the same time. (Health- Getting all that dirt and grime off is part of a healthy routine.)
  3. Paint Now it's time to bring some life to those rocks! Cover a table with newspapers, and if you have small children who might get paint in more places than the rock, cover them too (an old shirt and pants will do the trick). Depending on what design you want to create, you may want to sketch lightly on the rock before applying the paint.  If details are being added, then a waterproof marker would be helpful to use. Outdoor patio paints are preferred so the rock weathers well. Allow to dry for several hours. (art)
  1. Seal  In order for your awesome rocks to be enjoyed for a long time, a sealant such as Modge Podge should be used. This will make the designs weather resistant and shiny. NOTE: If you have used permanent markers on the rocks, apply a thin layer of glue before applying the sealant to prevent smudging. Allow to dry according to the directions on the jar. 41O7V5Vq2FL
  2. Hide No, not you, the rocks! Have the children go and hide their rocks so that fellow campers can find them. Be sure to hide them where others can find them and be mindful of not placing them where it would be a hinderance. Each person that has hidden a rock can write a clue for others to find their treasure, thus creating a scavenger hunt.  (clues- writing;  directions- math, social studies)
  3. Find Put all of the clues in a plastic jar or other container and have each participant draw out a clue until they are all gone. Give each person a plastic grocery bag. Tell everyone to see if they can locate that rock based upon the clue.  Have everyone go and search for those treasures! Help little ones who can't read.
  4. Display Enjoy all of the treasures collected by having a rock show.
Repeat this as many times as you like and consider leaving the rocks behind for others to find. 


Lisa McAfee -
I am an alumni home educator of two sons and Ohio licensed teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings. I have been assessing homeschool students’ work for the past 17 years and enjoy helping empower and encourage homeschool moms with their homeschooling.