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Light the Darkness Family Advent Reading for 2020

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2020 has been dark, confusing, and at times very scary.  All year, we've been battered by the new stations, pummeled in debates, and knocked out by many losses.  In this darkest time of a difficult year, we all could use some good news.  A light in the darkness.  From out of the turmoil of the plague-infested middle ages, comes the Christmas tradition that has not lost it's power to illuminate our hearts and bring us hope.  Turn off all the lights in your home, gather your family, and light the candles. Note- Yep, I'm writing this on the night before the first Sunday in Advent.  I've been struggling to blog lately and have been putting my attention on other things.  Still, I'd like to make an attempt at writing and publishing a set of Advent readings. As I mentioned, the tradition of Advent Wreaths is very old.  The practice varies between denominations, countries, churches, and families, but the basic idea is to light candles as a way to countdown the Sundays unti

Hamilton Gift Ideas for Homeschoolers

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One of the things that 2020 has given us this year was Hamilton the Musical on Disney Plus!  Suddenly, a niche Broadway musical that was only on most people's peripheral is now on center stage!  No longer do history and theater nerds need to be content with the Hamilton soundtrack, now they can watch the pro-shot every day if they want.  If you have someone in your life, who isn't throwing away their shot to watch this musical as many times as possible, then you'll find this list very helpful.  Click on the colored text to read more about the products.  Also, if you're on Pinterest, please pin the image in this post for others to enjoy. Since we're a homeschooling family, I wanted to add a few extra tips specifically for families like ours!  If you're learning more about life during the colonial and revolutionary war years, I highly recommend the Townsends channel on Youtube.  He and his team show you how different things were done in that time period.  I foun

Homeschooling with the Microsoft Flight Simulator

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  This is probably not a great way to start this blog post, but I'm not an airplane person.  My family loves planes, though!  I married a Moody Aviation "flyboy" almost fifteen years ago, which started my journey into all things that fly.  He even owned a hang glider!  Now that we have kids, they also love to see airplanes, play with airplanes, and play on the flight simulator.  This past year, Microsoft updated their Flight Simulator for a new generation.  Since my 9, 8, and 7 year old homeschoolers spend a bit of time learning on it, I thought it would make a great blog post for this homeschool blog. Setting Up Your Flight Simulator I dragged my husband into this blog post to get his take on the things you need to set up a flight simulator in your home.  As long as I've known him, he's been building flight simulators.  During the COVID break (March 2020), he and the kids started building a "full size" helicopter simulator on our porch.  I fully trust t

Squirrel and Acorn Books for Autumn

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The calendar has turned to September, and it's officially time to start fortifying for winter.  Few animals are as famous for their autumnal preparation like squirrels!  It's so fun to watch them scamper around the yard and woods, as they get their stashes ready for the first snowfall.  Last year, I did a bunch of squirrel printables for preschool and kindergartners, so this year I thought I'd expand the collection of ideas for include some fun picture books, too.  Here are some great ideas for creating a theme unit for your kids! Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep- this charming, rhyming book gently leads kids through the world of squirrels from playtime to bedtime. The Busy, Little Squirrel-  this board book focuses on the season of autumn as a time of preparation as the world winds down for the long sleep of winter. Grey Squirrel Stuffed Animal-  my tenderhearted daughter brought home a dead squirrel one day, so we bought her this stuffed animal instead.  It

Build a Whole Pizza with Fractions

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It's a new school year, so it's time for some new printables!  I have lots of math helpers and manipulatives on this blog, but I'm not sure I'll ever reach a point where I can say that I have too many.  I was chatting with some other moms this morning in a Gameschooling group (homeschooling through game playing), and one of the moms mentioned she was looking for a pizza fraction game.  I've been spending so much time working on my small business that I haven't been posting to this blog very often, so I thought this was a great opportunity make a new printable! Is there any American kid who doesn't love pizza?  It doesn't matter what time of the day or how often we've eaten the food, the kids are always game for another pie.  With so many varieties available from savory to sweet, there are so many options for chowing down on it too.  If your kids enjoy pizza like mine do, they might enjoy these other fun pizza themed toys and books.  Check t

What's Working for Math in 2020

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I don't often write about the specific curriculum choices that we've been using, because I never feel like I have a firm enough grip on their success to justify putting them into the blog.  We are relaxed homeschoolers, which means that we don't use a lot of curriculum in the first place, but we also have some special needs in our family.  It's been an experiment to try to find what works for us.  For the first time in years, I feel very confident with our current set up enough to share it. Dragonfly (9) We've been struggling with Horizons Math workbooks for years with Dragonfly.  Finally, this spring, I switched her to Khan Academy.   I also had her start over with kindergarten work, since Khan is common core, which is different from Horizons.  Khan Academy is also FREE, which made it a very easy switch, even as an experiment.  I also like that Khan is set up more like a traditional classroom with very simple text and pictures, not animations or any elem

Living History Diaries for Kids

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During my preteen and teen years, I was obsessed with "who lives, who dies, who tells your story" (although Hamilton hadn't been written yet).  When I was around 11 or 12, the asthma doctor told myself and my parents that I would probably not live into adulthood.  My lungs were so bad that any illness or irritant could be the thing from which I never recovered.  Tough words for a doctor to tell their patient, very difficult words to hear, and heartbreaking for a parent. From that moment on, I was obsessed with telling my own story, and reading other stories about girls my age who had also dealt with difficult things.  I loved the "Dear America" series for that reason.  It was historical fiction about lives in the past, who had overcome adversities and survived them (or not).  I remember also being a bit obsessed with Anne Frank, even addressing an entire diary/journal to her at one point. Living and Adventuring with Asthma I've been wanting
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