Homeschool Co-op Class: Historical Characters


My kids and I really enjoy the homeschool co-op we participate in each semester. 

Last semester I taught elementary U.S. Geography for our co-op.  You can read about how I structured that class here

This semester I'm teaching a junior-high class called Historical Characters. This class is a combination of History, Creative Writing and Speech. I don't know if any "curriculum" or structure exists for such a class as this, so I've just created what will work for our purposes. 

I decided that we would cover 2 historical time periods in our 12 weeks of class. For the first half of the semester, I chose Bible times. For the second half, I chose the Civil War era. 

For each time period, we spent 1-2 class periods studying the history of the time, comparing and contrasting our modern-day culture with the time we were studying. Then each student chose one real-life character from that time period that they wanted to portray. They studied that character in-depth and then wrote a 5-minute first-person speech. The goal is to balance historically accurate information with personal elements of emotion, to make their character "come to life."

To introduce the class, I started the very first day by presenting a 5-minute speech as the World War II character Corrie Ten Boom. This gave the students an example of what we would be doing for the semester. 

This week the students presented their Bible character speeches and did wonderfully. We heard from Miriam, Sarah, David and King Nebuchaddnezzar. Two students were absent and will present next time.     

Then we move on to the Civil War era, which should be interesting as there are numerous points of view to consider (President Lincoln, Grant, Lee, a slave, a slave owner, a Southerner who is a slave sympathizer, an active abolitionist, a Northerner who supports states-rights and doesn't see slavery as the main issue, etc).

On the final day of class, we will have a costume party and "be" any historical character we'd like.  

One of the unseen benefits of a homeschool co-op is having the opportunity to teach something like this - such a fun idea that I could run with - giving not only the students the freedom to be creative, but me as well.  

Hope Deferred


It's been one year since she left us.

I am regularly reminded of the appropriateness of her name. Hope. 

To trust, to expect, to believe, to wish for, to desire, to look forward to.
 Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov 13:12).

Hope springs eternal. 

A living hope.

 Jesus Christ - our only hope.

Happy heavenly birthday, dear Hope! I truly can't wait to meet you and celebrate with you someday.  

Family Photo Friday


It's Friday! Yahoo! I will be having a little get-away this weekend which I'm really looking forward to. It's been years since I've taken more than 3 hours to get away by myself, to reflect, to just simply rest.   

When Friday rolls around, it means that I post pictures from our week. So here are a few snapshots into what this week held for my clan.

Here my son worked on his alphabet using ABC Stomp 
(26 foam footprints with one capital and small letter on each). Since it was so long, he wanted to see how he measured up. By the way, he now LOVES camo - his new favorite design for any item of clothing.

Here's my boy just being plain old silly and cute.

My girl has been doing some sewing at Grandma R's house. She is LOVING learning how to sew. This week she stitched "MOM" into this napkin-size fabric

And she created this apron by herself, no pattern. Grandma says that next week they'll work on making an apron by following a pattern. Good practice for a girl who wants to start making her own clothes and doll clothes.

My boy loves bath time. One of his favorite things is to ask for me to wash his hair and make it all crazy, like this. Funny boy. 

Happy Friday from our family to yours! 

Field Trip: Newspaper Office


We went on a field trip this week to the South Bend Tribune newspaper office building. We have driven by this large building so many times and now finally had the opportunity to see all of the inside workings. You can click here to learn more about the history and basics of the South Bend Tribune

The only downside of our field trip was that none of the machines were running. This newspaper is a morning paper, which means it is printed during the night. Therefore, the machines are idle during the daytime hours. The only workers we saw were machine cleaners, journalists and customer service staff 

But we did enjoy seeing how the paper is printed. Here are my kids next to the humongous rolls of paper. There were also large ink vats that were probably 7-feet tall.

We learned some facts about the newspaper business, including trends towards more internet news and fewer newspaper subscribers. I was fascinated by the inserting machines, that put the ads and coupon inserts into the finished papers. 

Thank you, South Bend Tribune, for allowing us to learn more about what you do!

PS: Field trips like this are another reason I enjoy our homeschool co-op. We have a field trip organizer who plans these events, so all we have to do is show up. 
Love how easy it is to go on a quality field trip!

Valentine's Day


My dear husband gave me a beautiful rose bouquet for Valentine's Day. He's always kind and thoughtful. I am truly a blessed woman and give thanks to God daily for my man!

Grandma K sent some goodies from Wisconsin for the kids. Grandma R gave them each a card and a small toy. Here was my son with his card and his racing car gift (and a blue headband that his sister received but he thought looked good on him since it's boy blue).

Every day truly is a day to celebrate love - the love of spouses, the love of children, the love of God! 
Express it while you still can.
Embrace it while you still have it. 
Love like it's your last chance to do so, 
because eventually it will be!

Another Holiday Tainted by Grief


It's Valentine's Day 2013.

For me, this is another holiday that's tainted with grief. 

Valentine's Day 2012. I had taken a pregnancy test two days before and discovered that I was indeed pregnant. This was super exciting news since we'd suffered our first miscarriage a few months prior.

I waited to tell my husband until Valentine's Day. I made him a special card that was "from all of us" and then listed all of our names, including the newest itty bitty baby in utero. We rejoiced. After the grief of the previous loss, we were hesitant to hope again. But we threw ourselves into the joy of new life. We referred to this baby as "our spark of hope."

Of course, we could not have known that just a few weeks later we would lose this baby to miscarriage. We felt that she was a girl and we named her Hope. 

Valentine's Day will never be the same again, because it is forever tied with baby news in my mind. 

However, it is also tied with love. Forever love. Hopeful love. Love that lasts beyond the grave. Love that is eternal. 

Yes, it is possible to grieve and at the same time celebrate THAT kind of love.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Field Trip: HealthWorks Kids Museum


Last week my friend Leah came down from Southern Michigan for the day, with her crew (Ada - age 6, Gunnar - age 4, Waylon - age 2). Together we visited the HealthWorks kids museum in South Bend, IN. 

I learned that our local library has a museum pass for HealthWorks. We were able to check out that pass and use it to save $30 on admission! Yeah for public libraries! 

HealthWorks is a fun and interactive place for kids. Everything is hands-on, giving kids permission to touch and explore the various exhibits. There's a "treehouse" and slide for the kids to use to get some of that energy out. There's a life-sized Operation game to play to learn about bones and organs. Occasionally, the staff put on small demonstrations (kind of like science experiments) and there's a theatre that shows a brief movie on how the brain works.

There was a dress up area. My son, of course, went for the firefighter clothes and struck a pose. 

There's a kid-friendly climbing wall. 

There is a pretend dentist office, complete with scrubs to wear, an x-ray machine, and large toothbrushes and dentures to show patients the proper way to brush.

If you have young children and are looking for something fun and educational to do, check out HealthWorks. And to save a bundle, check out the library pass. Depending on your family size, you may just get in for free! 

Family Photo Friday

Friday is here again. This week seemed extra long for some reason - it felt like Friday should've arrived back on Wednesday! Now Friday is truly here, so I have a few pictures to share from our week

Last week my daughter got new appliances in her mouth - retainers. She's had an expander and a spacer for many months. Now they are out and the retainers are in.

I've been more intentional about "school" with my son lately - focusing on recognizing the letters of the alphabet and basic beginning reading skills. Here he's posing with a page of letters he wrote all by himself.

And here he's busy looking at a book. My heart is so happy to see my kids enjoying books. 

We've had some winter weather this week. The kids, of course, love playing in the snow. We have a perfect kid-sized snow hill in our backyard.

Happy weekend, y'all! 



The Sabbath. 

Honestly, I've never been one to care much. I know it's one of the 10 Commandments - keep the Sabbath holy. But it's one of those laws nobody seems to follow anymore. 

Recently I started caring. Recently I began a quest to better understand the Old Testament holidays and feasts and holy days. The Sabbath seems to be the most basic of the holy days and yet even that has fallen out of favor. 

A few weeks ago we decided to start being intentional about the Sabbath. We learned more about the Jewish calendar, to understand why the Sabbath traditionally goes from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. We read verses related to the Sabbath, to understand why God instituted it to begin with. We learned a little about how the Sabbath is observed in the modern day.We learned about the Sabbath rest as symbolic of eternal rest and of firstfruit offerings to God.

And we began observing the Sabbath. 

On Friday night, I do a few things that physically set the Sabbath apart from other days. I put out a nice tablecloth before supper (one not used for any other occasion). I set out special candles (not used any other time). And sometimes I make special bread for our meal (again, not used any other time during the week). The point is: set it aside as something special, out of the ordinary, distinct from the other 6 days of the week. 

I don't have a special meal that we eat each Friday night. There is no special ceremony necessarily. But we all know it's the start of the Sabbath and that for the next 24 hours the focus is on resting, not doing. Of course, we still do basic things and are not legalistic about it. We are not observing the Sabbath to somehow make ourselves look better in God's sight. That would defeat the purpose altogether. 

We observe the Sabbath because we are tired human beings who need rest. God knows that. He made us. He created one day a week for us to rest, to refocus, to entrust our week to Him. 

So we rest. We read. We play. We try to simply be. We relax. We breathe deeply. We reconnect with each other and with God after whatever blows we've been dealt during the week. 

And it's been a beautiful thing. My kids look forward to it. I look forward to it. It's a great way to end one week and begin another. It provides time to look back at what has been accomplished and to look forward at what will come. 

Like so many things in the Christian life, the ways of God lead to abundant blessing... yet it takes time for us to come to the place where we embrace them. The Sabbath doesn't make natural sense, especially in our fast-paced society. Yet, God made it for a reason and we will be blessed if we walk in His ways. We have found Him faithful     

Exodus 20:8-11  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.