Give Thank You a Try – November Book Club

I am so excited to share with you a little about our reading for November. If you remember, I shared with you about this new book club at the beginning of the month. I am joining a few other great ladies who are all sharing the books we are reading each month and how we make it fun for our kids, or share our review at the end of the month.

This month, we had some good books picked out, but I wanted to spend some time on something other than Thanksgiving. I found Give Thank You A Try from James Patterson. I love James Patterson books, so I thought this might be a great way to get the kids thinking about being thankful for things, and this book did not disappoint!

Give Thank You A Try is a fun little book full of things that kids are thankful for. They have simple little “thank you” sentences that make up the book. There is no real story, rather just all the things these kids, and families say thank you for.

Saying Thank You

After reading this book, I had my kids think of things they were thankful for. We spent some time thinking about what we could say thank you for. The kids were able to say thank you to our neighbor who gave us cookie dough to make cookies with.

We could say thank you for the food we eat, our family, our church family, and just having a house to stay in. I even found that the kids loved running to the neighbor’s houses and personally telling them thank you for being who they are to us!

Overall, we loved this book as a way to remember how we have so much to say thank you for. Now, I notice them saying thank you for many things they may never have thought to say thank you for before.

I am glad we took the time to find books on thankfulness to read this month! I would love to hear of some of your favorite books on thankfulness, can you share them with me in the comments?

 

Also, make sure to stop and check out what my friends have shared for their books for the month!

Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom 

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Homeschooling During a Pandemic – 5 Tips

pandemic

How many of you are new homeschoolers? How many are homeschooling because of the uncertainties of your public school system this year? Whether you are new to homeschooling or a veteran, plan to homeschool for one year or for more, I want to share some tips for homeschooling during a pandemic.

pandemic

Things are not Normal

If 2020 was your first year of homeschooling, I want to point out first and foremost, things are not normal. They are not normal in the public schools, and they are not normal for homeschoolers either. We don’t have access to the same things we did before, and we need to follow the same rules about meeting in groups as anyone else.

What does that mean? We don’t have our co-ops, library dates, and field trips. These are some of the things that make homeschooling so much fun. So please, don’t judge homeschooling on the lack of things we can do right now, we normally have a lot more fun!

Get Out of the House

I said it, and I will always say it. One of my best tips for making homeschooling work is to get out of the house. When the weather is nice, take school to the backyard. Gather on a blanket and do your lessons in the sun. However, in the north, it is getting colder for the winter. How do you take school outside when the weather is bad?

When the weather doesn’t allow for sitting in the backyard and learning, go for a walk. Taking a nature walk, on a windy day, snowy day, during the winter months, it doesn’t matter. There is so much to be learned from walking, even the same path, during the different seasons.

Getting out of the house doesn’t mean going on field trips, it just means to get outside and soak up the learning in the fresh air!

Grab Books

Life is stressful for everyone right now. There is so much happening and emotions are everywhere. If you feel nervous, what do you think your kids feel? Some days, you need a mental health day from school, take it! Gather everyone up and read some books. Not for school, just for fun. 

I strongly believe that by reading aloud to my kids, they will learn without me teaching them. I still teach them of course, but taking the time out of my day to read with them will teach them so much more. Not only that, but we can travel far and wide together by grabbing a book.

We like to read chapter books aloud before bed, but we don’t pass on good picture books either! I have learned that these picture books are a great way of teaching older students also.

Listen to Your Kids

This one took me a long time to grasp. It sounds so simple, even without a pandemic. Listen to your kids. They are full of great ideas. They know things they want to learn about. They are ready and capable of learning a lot more than we think!

When I stopped demanding that they do everything I wanted them to do, and I listened to what they were interested in, it helped our homeschool a lot. Yes, I still make them do the required subjects, but I listen when they have ideas about what they want to do next. They tell me the books they like, and that is what they read for school. They tell me things they want to know more about and we find a way to include that in our lessons.

Give Them Many Things in Small Doses

This is a thing that I learned about just recently. This is based on the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. We have a bunch of fun things that we are learning about but doing small doses (15-20 minutes) once or twice a week. This is allowing the kids to experience many things and finding what they like and don’t like. 

Not only that, but their minds have things that can do when they are bored. Yes, I allow my children to get bored and make them come up with things, not electronics, to keep them busy. By giving their minds many things in small doses, they are able to find something they like to keep them busy.

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Using Charlotte Mason Style Homeschooling

Charlotte Mason

Over our years of homeschooling, I have learned a few things. The first thing I learned was that I could not do it all. However, this left some gaps. Then, I learned about the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling.

While I learned about this style of homeschooling early on, I didn’t actually find it to work for us until just recently. And now that I know about it and how it really works, we have gone full-on Charlotte Mason Homeschooling!

While I am still reading a lot about Charlotte Mason and her standing on education (there is a lot out there for you to read!), I have gathered enough to implement this style of homeschooling. On top of this, I am excited to learn more as we continue on this journey.

Charlotte Mason

What Is Charlotte Mason Style Homeschooling?

Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her style of learning was to do small bits of information and lots of different subjects to keep the child’s mind wanting more. She did not like the textbooks and thought that time outside and reading “living books” was a better way of learning.

Along with this, she didn’t believe in worksheets, rather she wanted the children to narrate, or tell back, what they had learned from the readings. And even though there are a lot of subjects, they are short and spread out throughout the week, making each day a fun new adventure.

How We Use Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

We have been dabbling in the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling for a bit now. This is what led me to dig deeper, when the little bits were working, I wanted to know more! That is what happens in homeschooling when something clicks and starts working, you dig deeper! That is what I did.

We found that it was fun doing math with Master Books and the Math Lessons for a Living Education. We found that we loved doing science together with Simply Charlotte Mason and their 106 Days of Creation (which I don’t see available anymore 🙁 ). Finally, I knew that I wanted to have my kids with a knowledge of all the fine arts. But how was I to teach all of that!?

I found that my subscription to Your Morning Basket from Pam Barnhill covered many of the “extras” I was worried about. These plans include handicrafts, poetry, picture studies, music appreciation, nature studies, and art. All of these, plus family read-aloud time. This all takes just about an hour to complete each day.

So, besides math and science, we have been doing BiblioPlan for our history, Bible, and geography. We have added in Your Morning Baskets for the extras and Learning Literature Through Language Arts for our language arts. This program focuses on great literature to learn language arts.

What We Think of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

As my kids are learning to crochet, read A Midsummer’s Night Dream, reciting Edgar Allen Poe along with their normal math, history, and language arts, I am finding Charlotte Mason’s style of homeschooling to be the fit that we had missed. We are enjoying our days, reading Stuart Little together, and have many more books lined up for when we finish that book.

My kids long for the next lesson, they want to know the next thing we are going to learn. They know the lessons won’t last long. They know that each day will be something different when we start the day. They are wanting to learn! Is that what you want for your children? Do you want them to want to learn?

If you want your child to yearn to learn, you will want to check out Charlotte Mason’s style of homeschooling. I will be sharing with you some more over the next few weeks about habit training, life skills, and handicrafts. Not only that, but we will dig deeper into the other subjects.

We love learning together, around the kitchen table, having fun. We want you to join us in this adventure and the joys of learning!

Who else loves to follow Charlotte Mason and her style of learning?

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November Book Club – Thankful

So, I am working on something. Something I want all of you to be a part of, whether you have a blog or not! A monthly book club. This can be for kids, mom, dad, the whole family, whatever works for you!

What Is the Monthly Book Club?

Every month, during the first week of the month, I will share with you the theme of the books for the month. Yes, theme, not title. I get it, most book clubs will tell you the title you should be reading, but since this is open to all ages, I just want to go with a theme.

As the month goes on, you read your book(s) that go with the theme. If you have kids, have fun with the books, do activities, watch the movie after you read the book, whatever you want. If you are doing this with older kids, or yourself, get a review going. Find out what you like or don’t like. Why should I add it to my list, or why should I avoid it?

Come back during the last week of the month and share! Share what you read and what you did. Share your review. Just come back and share. So, how do you do this if you don’t have a blog? Simple, leave your books, and review in the comments!

November Books Club 2020

This month, since we are truly just starting out, I went with an easy theme, Thanksgiving/Thankful. I know there are many books on this theme, relating to the holiday, or just the act of being thankful. Get onto GoodReads, Amazon, or your library page and start finding those books!

I am not alone in this, I have a group of fellow blogger friends who will be joining me. Check them out and give them some love!

Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

To help you out with finding some fun books to read, I made a November Reading Challenge. Print up your free copy and let your kids have fun getting three in a row to win!

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Habakkuk Bible Study – A Review

2020 has been a year that we won’t soon forget. It has been a time of worry and stress. This, added to how my husband’s health has been slowly getting worse, I sometimes wonder why God is being so silent during this time. As faith would have it, I was asked to review Habakkuk: Remembering God’s Faithfulness When He Seems Silent by Dannah Gresh from Moody Publishers.

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Habakkuk 1:2

If you have never really heard of the book of Habakkuk, don’t worry you are not alone. I had not heard of it before this study was available to me. Habakkuk is a short book, only 3 chapters long and only 2.5 pages long in my bible. My first question when seeing this, what am I going to do for 6 weeks in this short amount of reading? Oh, I have not been disappointed!

What It Is

This is a 6-week bible study focused on the book of Habakkuk. The book is a softcover book with just over 200 pages. There are two parts to this study, How to Pray When You’re Devasted and How to Hear God Through the Hurt. There are three weeks in each of the parts.

Each week starts with a free podcast. You are able to find the podcast on Dannah’s website. These podcasts usually last about 20-30 minutes. After the podcast, there are five meditations for the week. Dannah uses the word meditation because meditation is a combination of prayer and studying.

As we go through the different events that happen, we also have a timeline at the back of the book to write down the events and dates.

How I Used It

I decided for me to get the best use out of this study, I was going to listen to the podcast, and fill in the corresponding study guide, on Mondays. That was all I did on Mondays. Tuesday through Saturday I would go through the meditations. This allowed me to make up a day on Sunday if something prevented me from doing completing each day as I planned.

This was a very easy to follow bible study. There was just enough happening on the pages while still allowing for enough room to write and jot notes. The binding of this book allowed me to lay it flat, or fold it over without causing any damage. The meditations were easy to follow and allowed me to learn more about waiting for God, and even wrestling with Him when times are tough and he is silent.

What I Thought

This bible could not have come at such a greater time! God surely is using Dannah to help us through this time we are facing right now. She sent this book to the printer right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Really, there could not have been a better time. Even if we didn’t have this pandemic, this study would have still made just as much of an impact on me

We all struggle to hear God at times, especially during the tough times. Did you know that it is ok to wrestle with Him? Honest wrestling with God, not just doubt, honest wrestling. I have done this, and to see examples of others in the bible who have been through the same thing really helped me know that it was ok.

Dannah is using Habakkuk’s story to help us take our struggles and our tough times to bring us closer to God. You will take time to look deep within yourself to find ways to talk and listen to God, even when you think he is not listening because he is silent.

This time is hard, life is hard, we will always have struggles and have some sort of battle we will have to face. Don’t do it alone. Take the time to learn to listen to the one who will help you through. Grab your copy of this bible study and find peace knowing that God is there with you.

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Keeping a Book Journal Instead of Book Reports

Reading is a huge thing for children. We need to teach them to love to read. So how do we do that while still knowing what they are reading? Take out the book reports and give them a book journal instead!

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Book reports suck the fun of reading out of the book. You need to spend the time paying attention so that you can write words on paper, be it the number of words or the number of pages you need to write. Kids start to not want to read because of having to write a book report after reading the book.

So, what do you do instead? How do you know your kids are reading the books they say they are? As I was reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, I found out about book journals. While this book is written for public school teachers, there is a wealth of information for homeschoolers as well!

Book Journals over Book Reports

I have modified the idea of the book journal from Donalyn Miller to make it work for us. However, I loved her idea of allowing a child to abandon a book that just doesn’t fit for the child. I know that I have found some books that just didn’t work for me to finish, so I agree with allowing our children to do the same.

That is why I have a section in my new book journal that not only allows us to track the books the kids have read, but also write down the books they have started and abandoned. Within this section, I have a notes column. Kids are able to write down notes about the books they have read, but they can also write down notes on the books they abandoned. Who knows, maybe they will come back to these books later.

How Do We Use the Book Journal

This is the fun part, you use it how you want! you can print the pages and just use it as it is. You can put it in a three-ring binder, bind it with a binding machine, or staple it and go. But you can also use it as a notebooking guide. You can take the pages and cut and glue them into a regular notebook. Make your child a whole notebook full of remembering the books they have journeyed through, and keep it for your records of what they have done.

Not only do you have the chance to list the books that have been read, but you also get the chance to write down the books your child wants to read. Let them take control over this. Let them find books they want to read and write them down.

I also take this further by giving space for your child’s favorite quotes from the books they read, their favorite parts of books they have read, their favorite characters from the books they have read, and a list of their favorite books. By having my kids write down these favorites, I know if they read the book or not.

I also have one page to allow children to track the different genres they are reading. This is something new for me. I hadn’t thought about making my kids read different genres, I was just happy to have them reading! This year we are making a few changes to our reading time. Not only do we have daily drop everything and read time, but we are also exploring different books and genres. I can’t wait to see what this will bring forth in my kids!

Grab Your Own Book Journal

I am in love with the book journal I have created. My kids love that I don’t pester them about the books they are reading when I can grab their journal and see for myself.  My kids love the fact that I trust them to pick books they will read. They get ideas and recommendations from me, but ultimately, I leave the choice up to them.

Give your child the freedom of their reading and allow them to love reading, by having them fill out a book journal instead of numerous book reports by grabbing your copy right here.

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Using Kindle Unlimited In Your Homeschool

A thing that I love about homeschooling is the fact that we can use books to help us learn. Reading, even if it is out loud to the children, is a great way to help your children learn. The tough part, your local library is not going to have every book you want to use in your homeschool. The answer, putting your Kindle and Amazon account to use with Kindle Unlimited.

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One thing that I love about Amazon is the Kindle Unlimited account that I have. I never realized how much this account would help with our homeschooling. It has given me options to add more books to our homeschool life.

We have found many great books within Kindle Unlimited that have helped us enrich our homeschool. I want to share a few of them with you so that you can give it a try yourself.

The Green Ember Series

Ok, so I reviewed these books in the physical format and my family LOVED them! We joined the bandwagon and wanted to read them all. Little did I know, I could get all of these books for FREE with my Kindle Unlimited account. If you have doubts about this series, this is the perfect time to sample it and see what you are missing.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

This is a book that my children love! We read it together and watched the movie after. This was the first time that we did a comparison between the book and the movie. Just as I had hoped, the kids loved the book so much more. This is a well-known book and movie, so why not include it in your homeschool journey? If you have not read it before, you are missing out on so much compared to what the movie shows. Not only that, if you don’t want to use this as a read-aloud story, your older elementary children will be able to enjoy it on their own!

Fall Books

I love adding books into our homeschool that workaround the topic we are learning about. Right now we are focused on fall. There are good plenty of books available on Kindle Unlimited that will allow you to focus on fall.

Fall Leaves is a great book that is easy to read. It can be read as a short poem, or as a more in-depth study.  There are two ways to read this book, and my kids loved reading it both ways. This is a fun book to introduce fall to your children.


The Roll-Away Pumpkin is another great book to read during the fall season. This fun little story is about a pumpkin that gets away…the ending is a delicious ending that can solve a problem of a large pumpkin rolling down into the town. This is one that your kids will love!

Pumpkin Jack is a fun story about a pumpkin that doesn’t just disappear. This story takes us through the stages of a pumpkin after it is done being carved for the holiday season. This is a fun story to teach your children about how pumpkins can grow from seeds.

The Lord of the Rings

This was a fun find for me. I love this series and I love this series and being able to introduce this series to my kids is on the top of my list. Not only is this a great movie, but it is also a great book series. I read all of them before I watched the movies, and let me tell you, the books are WAY better! I am thrilled to be able to access these books within our Kindle membership to read to my kids.

The Unhurried Homeschooler

Now, this is a mom book! This is a book that I recommend homeschool moms, new and veteran, read. It has been recommended in groups that I am in, and I honestly could not have loved it more. This will help you focus on your “why” vs trying to check off all the boxes when it comes to homeschooling.

Having access to all sorts of different books with the click of a button means that we are never without a book for our homeschool. Mom and kids can read what they need to have a book on hand to read. I firmly believe that reading is an essential item in teaching anything to my kids, so having access to books for free is a huge bonus for us!

If you are homeschooling and wondering how to get access to all the books, check out Kindle Unlimited and grab those books to allow your child, and yourself to read what you want!

How have you used Kindle Unlimited in your homeschool? Or, if you are just learning about this, how do you plan to use it in your homeschool?

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Letters from Katie Luther – A Book Review

While I was growing up, I was raised Catholic. After branching out on my own and finding a church that allows me to think for myself, for the most part…as long as it follows the bible, I have come to learn more. One of the things I have learned more about is Reformation Day. Because of this, I was super excited to review Letters from Katie Luther by Shirley Casemier from Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Letter from Katie Luther Book Review

What Is It

Katie Luther, Katherine von Bora Luther, the wife of Martin Luther, is the main character of this book. We follow her through letters that she wrote to her friend Ave (ah-vay). While this is not an actual biography, the story itself had a lot of thought and research put into it to make it as accurate as it could be.

The book itself is a paperback book ($14.95) with just under 100 pages. There are a few random black and white photos spread throughout the book to show you some of the places that are being talked about.

Through the letters, we learn much about the life of Katie and Martin Luther. As a new (ish) learner of Reformation Day, Katie’s letters really helped me to understand more about the background of Martin Luther himself through his wife writing to her friend.

How We Used It

While I had all the intentions of reading this to my children to teach them about Reformation Day, and I still do plan to do this, I have claimed this book as mine for the time being. I can relate to Katie. I was Catholic, I “escaped” from that and had my eyes opened. Not only that, but I could relate to Katie dealing with her husband’s “sickness” or mental health issues. I have been dealing with this on a daily basis.

So, for this review, I have been reading the book myself. I have been laughing and crying with Katie and Ave. While I have been enjoying this book, I can tell that it is also written for older children. That is why I have no issue with reading this aloud to my children.

What We Thought

Oh my! That was my initial thought. This was a book I could not put down once I started reading it. The writing made me feel everything that was being described. I could feel the feelings Katie was going through, even without previous experience. I laughed, I cried, I yearned to know more. Even though I know the ending, I still yearned to know more about the daily life of this family.

This is a book great for any family that wants to learn more about Martin Luther and his family. The struggles they faced and the way they relied on God through it all. Breaking away from the “normal” is not easy, but having faith in the real God to guide you through will give you the strength to go on your path. 

If you are looking for a good read this month, one that will lead up to Reformation Day, you will want to grab your own copy of Letters from Katie Luther.

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Walls & Warriors – A Timberdoodle Review

If you know our family, you know we love playing games. I love to be able to start the school day with some fun learning games to get the mind warmed up. Timberdoodle has given us Walls & Warriors to review.

If you remember a few weeks back, we were talking about Color Catch. This is a similar game, a game of logic. It will require thinking to complete each challenge. This is what made me stop and check it out! I love giving my children challenges and making them think with logic.

What Is It

Walls & Warriors is a simple, yet complex game at the same time. You are given starting positions for some of the pieces, and you are required to think of the one correct answer to the problem. This is where the logic comes into play.

Walls & Warriors comes as part of the Timberdoodle 12th Grade Curriculum Kit, but can be used for other ages. Ray Ray is just 12-years-old and has loved this game. What boy doesn’t love a game that requires him from saving the castle from the enemies? Not to mention that mom may love playing it also!

Included with this game are the game board, gamebook with all the challenges, and twelve game pieces. With these pieces, your child will have 80 challenges from starter to wizard. Each level will get a little harder with less help from the gamebook.

How We Used It

Much like Color Catch, we used this as a way to warm up our minds before school. This was a fun way to start our days. Getting our minds warmed up with a fun logic game is a fun way to start the school day. We only needed one or two challenges to be ready for the day.

I have a collection of age-appropriate games that require thinking, logic. We pull these out each day, every child has a game that they pull out when I tell them it is game time. They know that when I tell them it is time to grab a game that they get to have fun before school happens, what they don’t know, they are learning as they are playing the games.

What We Thought Of It

Games are an important part of our homeschool. They take learning and turn it into fun. I love finding games that make our children think. While they think that I am allowing them to play before school, I know that I am turning on their minds and making them think.

This was a fun game, yet the logic and problem-solving skills that went into this game. I could see Ray Ray’s mind busy at work with each new challenge to solve. He is already a very critical thinker, so to see him thinking outside of his normal ways thrilled me!

I would highly recommend Walls & Warriors to add to your homeschool days! You won’t regret it!

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October Book List

October Book List

We are doing something new this year. We are going to be reading picture books based on the month. I am going to share our October Book List before the month starts and at the end of the month, I am going to share what we did with these books.

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October Book List

Where to Find Books

We are getting our book ideas from Read-Aloud Revival (RAR). They have a great list of picture books for each month. This makes this part easy for me. The tough part, reading them and coming up with activities for them. We won’t do activities for all of the books, but we will do something that will center around the theme of the books.

Not only will we be grabbing books from the list on RAR, but I am also grabbing books from Your Morning Baskets and the Fall 3.0 guide. I will be sharing more about this in a week or two.

Our October Book List

This month, we will be reading books like The Pumpkin Runner, Fall Walk, Strega Nona’s Harvest, Seeds Move, and Swirl by Swirl.  With these books, you can see we will be getting ready for the fall and the harvest that happens. 

I am excited to make a few fun printables for the kids to do. I am thinking word finds, and things to do with nature walks. Things that will bring these books to life and allow my kids to see this wonderful transition from summer to autumn.

Want to Join Us?

Do you want to join us on this fun journey this month? I would love to have you join us! Pick some books that are good to go with October, share them, and come back to share what you did with them at the end of the month. Next month, I am hoping to have a theme for you!

If you are planning on joining us, share with me in the comments and let me know! Check back the last week of October to see what we did with our books.

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