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How to Teach Children About the Holocaust

As a Messianic family that loves Israel and the Jewish people, this subject is near and dear to my heart. I’m grappling with how to teach children about the Holocaust. My boys are 14, 12, and 10, so shielding them from the atrocities is not really necessary, but obviously, we will approach the subject from an age-appropriate point of view.  But from what perspective do you teach it? There are so many facets that need to be covered and discussed, it is hard to determine the place to dive in.  How do you make this subject manageable?

How to Teach Children About the Holocaust

I have been teaching the boys about the Holocaust for many years, but this year we are trying something new.  This year we are joining our friends over at the Homeschool Roster for a field trip to see a play at Playhouse on the Square, Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. We are going to examine how the Holocaust impacted one family, and really, just one girl. A girl about the same age as my boys. A girl who also attended a Montessori school. A girl who loved the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In preparation for us seeing the play, we have started reading the Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. As always, we purchased a Kindle version so I can share it on all of their Kindles and they can read along. However, I am reading it aloud to the entire family. (Yes, we still read to the boys!)  In order to really understand the Holocaust, our children have to see and feel Antisemitism. I think that is a hard concept to teach when it is impersonal. Teaching it from one person’s perspective makes it more “real” or identifiable. It makes it personal.  You certainly don’t have to use Anne Frank as your person  you follow, there are several biographies out there to choose from.  I have provided some of the well known biographies below that have great reviews.


When teaching such a difficult subject, it helps to define your objectives clearly.  For a Middle and High School homeschool, your list of objectives might look something like this:

judaism1.  Acquaint your children with basic beliefs and customs of Judaism and the roots of Christianity.  This might be accomplished by visiting a Rabbi or synagogue to discuss some of the basic rituals and beliefs of Judaism. You can also purchase a children’s book on Judaism such as Celebrate, a book of Jewish Holidays or Judaism, a DK Eyewitness Book

2.  Acquaint your children with what antisemitism is. I highly recommend you create timelines depicting the major events of antisemitism. antisemitism Because this started long before Hitler. I can guarantee that you will learn something yourself with researching this topic. I did and still do every single time I study this topic.  I am horrified at what these people have been through.

WWII Europe19143.  Define:  democracy, fascism, communism, and socialism. Have your children list countries where each of these ideologies existed during the Holocaust. As a great extension for older children, have them list countries where these ideologies exist today.  A basic google search will provide the answers for this.  You might consider creating 3×5 cards for the various characteristics for each ideology.  And create Venn diagrams on where they ideologies overlap.  Mapping the countries involved in World War II (maps for the area and time and study guides to go with the maps) and defining their ideologies as we map them.  Examine the efforts of Roosevelt and Churchill in Europe during World War II.

4.  Your children should have a basic understanding of what the end of World War I was and the Versailles Treaty.  Be sure they understand WWIthe economic, social, and political conditions in Germany from the end of WWI through 1933.  Again, a basic google search will provide these answers.  Here is a comparison chart for WWI and WWII

nazi5.  Discuss Hitler’s rise to power.  Do the same for Nazi power and the basic ideas of Nazi philosophy and their Nazi control over the German people.  Books to consider on this topic: Adolf Hitler: Wicked History, The Life and Death of Hitler, Adolf Hitler: Evil Mastermind of the Holocaust.  The Nazis, Why did the Rise of the Nazis Happen?

Apathy6.  Recognize and discuss the effects of apathy and indifference.  Discuss why Germans may have done nothing when confronted with behavior they knew was wrong. How is not acting making a choice?

propaganda7.  Discuss examples of how propaganda was used.  Discuss if propaganda is used in the United States.  Examples include television advertisers, government, foreign government, political parties, etc. How do you determine if it is propaganda?  How do you refute it? What is rumor? How does it start? Why is it believed? Why does this belief often persist? There are some great logic books that will teach how to identify fallacies.  Fallacy Detectives and The Art of Argument

8.  Finally, be sure to look for the heroes.  We always end such a horrific topic with something uplifting and encouraging.  Varian Fry, Raoul Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler, Rescue: The Story of how Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust, Rescuing the Children: The Kindertransport, Luba and hundreds more.


Some extensions we will be doing that go along with the Anne Frank Diary


We are using the Journal of Anne Frank as our immersion into the Holocaust.  So, below is how we will accomplish the objectives listed above using Anne Frank as our eyes and ears.

We are Messianic, so we keep the Biblical feasts and many of the rituals the Jewish people did already.  I think that helps us more fully grasp what the Jewish people experienced because we do some of the very things Anne Frank discusses in her diary.

As part of our History studies, we have become attuned at looking at the antisemitism aspect of the period throughout history.  We will be looking at the antisemitism this time from Anne Frank’s eyes and journal.  We will document what she saw and experienced.

Create a Timeline of Anne Frank’s Life on a poster board, under it create a timeline for The War and major political events, Inventions and discoveries happening at the same time, People, arts, theater, music, film, and sports items that were happening, our family history during that time.

Mapping Anne Frank family’s moves.

I hope this has been helpful for you to consider ways to teach this subject to your children.  These suggestions really apply to upper elementary, middle and high school students.  I would not necessarily do all of these suggestions, unless you are doing this as a complete unit study and have 4 – 6 weeks dedicated to the topic.

Until next time….


Almost Montessori World Oceans

As I think through all of the fabulous materials and works we use to teach our children using the Montessori method, one of our favorites has always been the maps. Maybe because I love puzzles myself or because it is a really concrete way to see where we are in the world, I personally have always loved these works. We do spend a lot of time teaching about the continents, but only just recently have I started seeing puzzles that don’t focus on the continent and only focus on the oceans. And these are not available in the US yet or they are really expensive.  So I thought I would share how we taught this concept …. Almost Montessori World Oceans.

World Oceans


This World Map is not a traditional Montessori work, but has the same concepts as the foundation.  We use tactile works to teach abstract concepts.  This is a large fabric world map (56″x 33″) with reinforced grommets for hanging (we used it on the floor and hung it after we were finished with it), with labels.  We used this in conjunction with the free study from Montessori Etc of the World Oceans using three-part cards.

Montessori Etc World Oceans Nomenclature Free

Most of the time, world oceans are presented in conjunction with the study of Continents of the world. Below are various manuals and how they introduce this topic.

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Here is a great article on the scope and sequence of geography by Montessori Primary Guide.  It shows when to present what pieces, if you are following the traditional Montessori curriculum!

Here is Montessori Research and Development’s lesson the Continent Globe.  They are using the Continent Globe to introduce the continents and world oceans.

Here is North American Montessori Center (NAMC)’s manual lesson section on Oceans.

Here is another Montessori Album that provides a free lesson on World Oceans.  They are using World Map puzzles for this lesson.

I stumbled upon a fantastic strike the imagination work by Mama Papa Bubba Site.  It is Frozen Ocean Animal Rescue.  If my boys were younger, we would be doing this one for sure to strike their imagination.  I would probably wait until spring/summer to do it!!

For older students, here is a presentation by a Montessori Middle school teacher, Victor Young.  He presented Building an Ocean Legacy Through Ocean Literacy,  at the International Montessori Conference in August 2013. You can see his slides and here his presentation here.


Books that would be great to help strike your children’s imagination about the Ocean.


I hope this presentation was a blessing to you and your homeschool!


Homeschool Curriculum, Schedule and Checklist 2013 – 2014

Homeschool Schedules, Curriculum and Daily Checklists 8th, 8th and 4th Grades


We are very hands-on (Montessori-ish) homeschoolers and have been homeschooling for four years, headed into our fifth! This article is all about our homeschool curriculum, schedule and checklist for 2013 -2014. Chase and Gage both are taking high school level classes so we are now using transcripts. Thankfully our umbrella school, HomeLife Academy makes it easy with their new AppleCore Reporting System!

So many people think Montessori homeschooling is akin to chaos or unschooling without structure… But that is just not accurate, as you will see with the boys’ curriculum and schedule! It is FAR from unschooling and nothing remotely close to chaos! I have included with each of my sons’ curriculum section, their schedules and their daily checklists (which includes their home chores). Montessori focuses on independence in education and the realization that we are life long learners. The tools we are using (schedules and daily checklists) are very effective at keeping them on track, holding them accountable and giving them freedom within their daily schedule. You will notice lots of study halls on their schedules. With the exception of those virtual or co-op classes that have specific times that the boys must attend at a specific time, we allow them to do their work at any time each day, as long as it is done that day. Thus the study halls sprinkled throughout the day allow for that flexibility.  

Another aspect of a Montesori education is a particular focus on life skills. You will see on the boys’ daily checklist a variety of daily chores they do from vacuuming to washing clothes. And we regularly swap out chore lists to allow for the boys to learn all aspects of running a home. We have also taken practical life skills to the next level with a focus on entrepreneurship. We realize our children will be part of the next generations’ leaders. We believe they will be the generation that gets America back on the right track, from a spiritual, economic, moral, government and academic perspective. So we are teaching them the skills they will need to achieve that goal! Each of our sons has their own business.  Their businesses focus on agriculture simply because we live on a farm (and it is a great, wholesome and healthy place to raise boys). So, it is natural for all of their businesses to be farm-based… thus we call it “farmschooling”. However, if we urban, they might not have these same businesses, but they would have some sort of business to teach them about capitalism!  

We have gotten a bit creative in how we encourage the boys to grow their writing skills… we allow them to blog about their businesses and our homeschool on our homeschool blog. All comments on our blog are moderated by me and all of their emails forward to me, so it is very controlled and protected (as much as they can be in this fallen world). The boys are really loving this new avenue of communication with the outside world called social media! It will be a part of their world when they are grown, so we might as well teach them how to use it responsibly now!  

All of our boys have a focus and desire to go to college, so you will notice they are pretty aggressive in their workload. This is primarily based on what they are capable of. Do not use our classes or our schedule as a model of a typical child in these grades. Children all learn at different levels and at different paces. Don’t ever prevent your children from running ahead if they want to. My yougest son wanted to do algebra in 3rd grade because he was chasing his older brothers.  So we let him. He has since just completed the Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra curriculum (in third grade) and has started the Teaching Textbooks Algebra before entering 4th grade. Let them run and only slow them down if they are setting themselves up for a huge failure that you know they would not recover from. Don’t forget what our founding fathers were by the time they were sixteen years old. Be sure your children research them and know their character!  We have got to realize, as a society, we have failed miserably in preparing the next generation. It’s up to us to turn this around!  

I can assure you, we don’t have homeschooling or child-rearing figured out, but we are in a pretty good place right now.  We are so very blessed and realize where this peace and prosperity originates!

If you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me!  I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have!  

Chase 8th Grade Curriculum

8th Grade

Algebra 2 (VideoText)

Exercises in English H (Loyola Press)

Vocabulary in Action H (Loyola Press)

All About Spelling

Classics Club via Virtual Homeschool Group

Teaching Writing Structure and Style (Institute for Excellence in Writing) 

Biology (Apologia) via Virtual Homeschool Group

Spanish II Descubre via Spanish Clicks

Finish Paths of Exploration / Start TRISMS History Makers / Masterminds

Logic (Fallacy Detective and Books from Critical Thinking Company)

Biblical Worldview  (Philosophy Adventure and Young Historians Introduction to Worldview and our Bible)

Art II via Local Co-op

Photography II via Virtual Homeschool Group

Economics (Capitalism for Kids, Commonsense Business for Kids and Starting a Micro Business Carol Topp IEW)

Photoshop via Virtual Homeschool Group

Creative Writing: Blogs at and Teen Book Reviews (Psalm onenineTEEN Reviews)

8th Grade Schedule

Daily Checklist 4th, 7th and 8th Grades

Gage 7th Grade Curriculum

7th Grade

Algebra 2 (VideoText)

Exercises in English G (Loyola Press)

Vocabulary in Action G (Loyola Press)

All About Spelling

Classics Club via Virtual Homeschool Group

Teaching Writing Structure and Style (Institute for Excellence in Writing) 

Physial Science (Apologia) via Virtual Homeschool Group

Spanish II Descubre via Spanish Clicks

Finish Paths of Exploration / Start TRISMS History Makers / Masterminds

Logic (Fallacy Detective and Books from Critical Thinking Company)

Biblical Worldview  (Philosophy Adventure and Young Historians Introduction to Worldview and our Bible)

Art II via Local Co-op

Photography II via Virtual Homeschool Group

Economics (Capitalism for Kids, Commonsense Business for Kids and Starting a Micro Business Carol Topp IEW)

Illustrator via Virtual Homeschool Group

Creative Writing Blogs at and chronicals his business and homeschool at Deluxe Clucks

7th Grade Schedule

Daily Checklist 4th, 7th and 8th Grade


Blake 4th Grade Curriculum

4th Grade 

Algebra 1 (Teaching Textbooks)

Exercises in English D/E (Loyola Press)

Vocabulary in Action D/E (Loyola Press)

Handwriting without Tears Cursive

All About Spelling

Study of Classics 

Teaching Writing Structure and Style (Institute for Excellence in Writing) 

Exploring Creation Physics and Chemistry (Apologia) 

Spanish (K-6) via Spanish Clicks

Finish Paths of Exploration / Start TRISMS History Makers / Masterminds

Logic (Fallacy Detective and Books from Critical Thinking Company)

Biblical Worldview  (Philosophy Adventure and Young Historians Introduction to Worldview and our Bible)

Economics (Capitalism for Kids, Commonsense Business for Kids and Starting a Micro Business Carol Topp IEW) NOT REQUIRED

Art II via Local Co-op

Photography II via Virtual Homeschool Group

Creative Writing Blogs at 

4th Grade Schedule

Daily Checklist 4th, 7th and 8th Grade

Curriculum spreadsheet for all three boys that we use as a GUIDE to keep us on track.  

Homeschool Daily Checklists

Sandpaper Land and Water Study

Sandpaper Land and Water Forms

As part of our Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit, we circled back around and reviewed our land and water lessons.  Educational research indicates that children tend to retain information better when it is presented different ways and using multiple senses.  This is an example of how a Montessori education does just that.  This is a traditional Montessori Activity Sandpaper Land and Water forms.  This sandpaper activity is considered a sensorial activity. explains sensorial works well and will be beneficial for the basis of our sandpaper land and water study:

The purpose and aim of Sensorial work is for the child to acquire clear, conscious, information and to be able to then make classifications in his environment. Montessori believed that sensorial experiences began at birth. Through his senses, the child studies his environment. Through this study, the child then begins to understand his environment. The child, to Montessori, is a “sensorial explorer”.

Through work with the sensorial materials, the child is given the keys to classifying the things around him, which leads to the child making his own experiences in his environment. Through the classification, the child is also offered the first steps in organizing his intelligence, which then leads to his adapting to his environment.

It is not very difficult to make your own sandpaper land and water forms using sandpaper you purchase from a hardware store and foam board from a craft store… I’m not so sure they would be less expensive, but I’m sure your children would have fun making them with you! 

Land and Water 3 Part Cards

These are three part cards that are an extension of the sanpaper land and water forms. I found these free downloads at The Helpful Garden Montessori and they are perfect for this work. I am always amazed and thankful when I realize how many of us are making these materials and willing to give them away!  What an absolute blessing!

Not only are there free 3 part cards online, there are also lessons on how to present the material.  I found the explanation below at Montessori Teachers Collective.

LAND AND WATER FORM CARDS (Lesson Presentation)

Material: One set of cards of ten major geographical land and water forms. Ten land and water models.

Presentation: Invite a small group of children to join you. Have one child layout a mat, then have the children bring over all the land and water forms. The teacher shows the children where the Land and Water Form cards are kept and then brings them to the mat. Review the names and give a brief definition of each model. The teacher holds the cards. Show the children one card and ask a child which form it matches. Child places the card beside the form. Repeat for the other forms. Ask the children to name all the geographical forms they remember by pointing to the cards. Give a three period lesson for all the cards they do not know. Present three at a time, isolated at the bottom of the mat. Continue according to the children’s interest. Replace materials when finished.

Exercise 1 As in presentation, continue until children know all the forms using the cards only. Review cards previously learned.

Exercise 2: Children can draw their own land and water forms. They may label their drawing if appropriate and/or include the flora and fauna.

Purpose: To associate the three dimensional form with the pure concept presented on the card.

Age: 4+ years

Land and Water Definition CardsAnother extension of this work is teaching your children not only the name of the land or water form, but also the proper definition of them.   Again, I found the cards free!  This time from Montessori Materials.  


Material: Outline maps large enough to show major land and water forms. Use one map for each set of forms. Two colored pencils brown or green for land, blue for water.

Presentation: Invite a child to join you. show the child where the outline maps are located. Start with the map of the world. Use one map for each land or water form. Decide which land or water form you are going to look for, i.e. island, and select the appropriate pencil crayon. Say that you are looking for all the major/large examples of islands. Child locates first example. Show how to color it in carefully. Child locates next example and colors it in. Have him point out the other examples which he will color in. Child proceeds for as long as he wishes. When finished, label the map according to its geographical form, i.e. Islands.

Exercise 1: As in presentation, repeat the process for all geographical forms.

Exercise 2: Child may use maps of continents or his own country, as long as he knows the appropriate language.

Purpose: Identifying major land and water forms world-wide.

Age: 4.5-5 years

DIY Land and Water TraysMany families make their own land and water form trays. These are usually plastic and some form of clay. Here is one set from Shannon’s Sharings and they are great!  These are  adding another dimension (water) to this already very tactile work. 

And, believe it or not, there are still more extensions to this one activity! One that I particularly love (and will be doing with the boys) is graham cracker land and water form snacks that Deb Chitwood presented on her website.  Just use food coloring with white icing to make the water and the brown of the graham crackers makes the land. So fun and yummy!  

Edible Land and Water Forms


Well, I hope have enjoyed seeing just one of the many reasons why we chose Montessori as the foundation  for our children’s education.  As they reach middle school and are abstract thinkers, their educational materials tend to be more traditional.  Although, as you see on my homeschool blog, we still lean heavily towards hands-on learning!  

Until next time… 


Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 2

Columbus Lesson 1 Part 2



As you know we started Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning for our summer all-inclusive curriculum experiment.  As we have discussed many times, we homeschool with a very hands-on (Montessori-ish) approach to education, so we are using lots of  supplemental resources to augment this course.  Our plan is to do the entire Paths of Exploration as an intensive study over the summer and early fall!  This post is about Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 2.  If you missed lesson 1, part 1, you can find it here

Section A:  Copywork/Dictation.  Focuses on “Language Skills and Thinking Skills”.  As in the Lesson 1, it is from the original poem, A Journey of Adventure, written by the late Debbie Strayer.  We are enjoying this work and we are finding more vocabulary words to add to our list.  We work on these vocabulary words between classes.  

Section B: Reader. Focuses on  “Language Skills” skills.  More reading from our required books. 

Section C: Read-Aloud and Narration. Focuses on “Language Skills and Thinking Skills”.  Today the boys had to retell specific passages of portions I read in their own words.  Again, There are two required reading books about Christopher Columbus. One is Meet Christopher Columbus and the other is Christopher Columbus.  

Section D: Word Study. Focuses on “Spelling and Phonics”.  The words in Part 2 are the same vocabulary words in Part 1 and are too easy for even my nine year old. The boys “tested” (I asked them to spell each of these words individually and they all could) out of these and moved into more challenging words.  We did the new part of the section which provided the definition and you had to pick the word that best fit.  But, really it is still too easy.  Here are the words I added, if you would like to put some challenge in.  Unfortunately, they do not come from the reading… but we have used each of these words in our homeschool this past year.    

  1. frighten
  2. airtight
  3. birthright
  4. blight
  5. brighten
  6. delight
  7. enlighten
  8. insight
  9. knight
  10. nightfall
  11. plights
  12. weeknight

Another new part of Section D Word Study was to study the past tense of words. We were given words that we had to find the past tense from the read-aloud books from Section C.  This is still terribly basic, for middle schoolers especially.  Here is a hands-on work that could be used for a more advanced study of the tenses of verbs for the older students and a more well-rounded, hands-on lower elementary work can be found here.  We also did a study of the word “strange” and how it was used in the reading. The boys provided synonyms for the word according to how it was used in the different texts.  They all got it and used the word “strange” and its synonyms appropriately.  This section may end up being skipped altogether.  

Also in this section we discussed various cities and if they are situated on the Mediterranean Sea.  Again, I have no idea why this is in Section D when Section E is Geography.  But the boys absolutely love the geography aspect, so I’m not complaining!  

Section E:  Geography.  Focusing on “Thinking Skills”.  We studied what a bazaar is.  There are some discussion questions, but again, they are not terribly thought provoking.  We decided to take this section deeper.  We discussed what we might encounter at a middle eastern bazaar, the things you might see, hear, and smell.  We talked about the fact that they are usually open-air markets and what weather elements they might encounter and wondered aloud how they would protect the items they were selling… such as spices.  Speaking of spices, we wanted to experience what it might be like to walk into the spice tent at a bazaar.  Research shows the more senses you engage when learning new material, the more likely it will be remembered.  We made it a game, “Name that Spice Game“.  Be sure to check out that post.  It was fun (but there is a warning in that)!  

Native shop in a Calcutta Bazaar, 1867, William Simpson

Native shop in a Calcutta Bazaar, 1867, William Simpson

Section F:  Art. In this section we discussed how many of the items at a bazaar are handmade.  The text showed some rugs and discussed their patterns and where you might find them.  Then the boys were to draw their own.  This was fun.  We looked at many google images of African rugs!  They are so beautiful and vibrant!  



Hula Hoop Rug by ChaseBut, again, we like to take it deeper so we creating some of our woven products. We made a Hula Hoop Woven Rug!  You can find that post here.  We will be making an art hanging.  Be sure to check those posts out as well, I will come back and link them to this post as well.  

If you are looking for something a little less bulky, here is another weaving using a paper plate and yarn.  The blogger’s three year old daughter was able to do this one!  It is so precious!  






Eat Your Way around the WorldOne final piece of the Geography study that will always go over extremely well in my house is the cooking piece.  Remember Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Aramini is one of the required books.  We are to experiment with making dishes from Egypt and Morocco this week.  I will do another post or two about them!  

Section G:  Independent Reading.  As we discussed in Part 1, we modified this a bit so the boys will focus their reading on anything about Christopher Columbus for 30 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays. I wrote a post to share what our library resources are, you can find it here.  

Thoughts thus far… there seems to be a lot of inconsistency.  I expected the sections to stay the same throughout the Unit… they don’t. I’m not sure this is a big deal, but it is not what I would have expected.  Also, I don’t understand why there is a section called geography, but some geography work is listed in other sections. Again, it just makes it inconsistent and a bit confusing… but NOTHING that you can’t work around or overcome. Thus far I can say I’m pleased with this product.  We will continue to augment the lessons with a more hands-on approach, but I am pleased and am really liking the idea of an all-inclusive curriculum.  I’ll give you more detailed feedback as we get further into the curriculum… but I’ll sum it with “so far, so good”.  

I hope the additional hands-on lessons are a blessing to you and your children!  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking of this series… and if you decide to purchase it and use it… let me know!  I’ll be creating a blog roll for all of us with posts about Paths of Exploration sometime this summer!  

Until next time…


Orienteering Scavenger Hunts Using a Map and Compass

Orienteering Scavenger Hunts


This past weekend was Father’s Day and my middle son, Gage’s birthday.  What did we do?  We all learned how to use a compass! How? By Orienteering Scavenger Hunts using a map and compass. As you probably have already read, in our Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit: Lesson 1, Part 1 study, we learned about the compass. We did all the worksheets for the compass in our POE student notebook, we printed out a great compass work from Montessori Print Shop. We even made  our own compass… but we didn’t learn how to use one, especially when using bearings and degrees.  That’s where orienteering comes into play. On Father’s Day, my hubby David was busy setting up a scavenger hunt for the boys and their best friend, Austin!  Each received their own packet, which contained, a compass and directions to find a treasure at the end of their individual courses. 

How to use a Compass LessonWe started inside with a quick lesson on how to use a compass.  I found some great instructions here and here.  But, that inside lesson was not as effective as we thought it would be.    

Once outside, they each opened their packets and read through their direction. After studying their packet a minute or two, they all decided they needed another lesson that was practical instead of theoretical … good thing that is our educational philosophy. In our homeschool and on our farm, it’s all about hands-on learning, we learn it while doing it!

Chase was the first to finish!  They all loved this project and each found their treasure Finished Firstsuccessfully. More importantly, they loved learning how to use a compass and hunting for an object … see the smile on Chase’s face! For those curious, here is the compass we got for each of the boys.  They were not expensive and Silva is highly regarded in the orienteering world.  They all worked well and were easy to use and read.  

This was their treasure they found at the end of their scavenger hunt.  You don’t know what mini-figure you are getting and could find a Mr. Gold in their packet. (No Mr. Golds were in these though.)

Orienteering Treasures Found


Did you know Orienteering is considered a competitive sport? Here is a link to one of the Orienteering sites to teach you more about this fun sport. There are many orienteering teams around the US too, but unfortunately, none in TN or MS.  Here is a link to see if they have one in your area.  If you decide to do this with your children, please post a link to your post below!  The boys LOVED the scavenger hunt and my hubby loved setting up the course!  We will be doing this again and soon!  Here are a few more pictures of the boys in action:  

One final note, we learned today that one of the authors of Paths of Exploration, Debbie Strayer passed away over the weekend.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and the good folks at Geography Matters!!! 

Until Next Time…


Name that Spice Game

Name that Spice


Can you imagine how fabulous (and pungent) it would be to walk into a spice tent?  As you know, we are hands-on (Montessori-ish) Homeschoolers, so we decided to create a “Name that Spice Game” to experience that blend of spices smell on a small scale. In Lesson 1, Part 2 of our Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit, we studied about ancient open-air bazaars, such as the ones you might find in Middle Eastern countries today.  Explorers liked to bring home spices from bazaars to sell in their own countries.  

This game is a spin-off of a Montessori work, Scent Jars. If you have younger students that have not used this activity, I highly recommend using it with this lesson first.  Remember, all Montessori works are teaching a life-principle or concept that is much deeper than the obvious work itself.  For example, for the smelling jars, your child is not just being taught how to be able to identify a specific spice smell, the lesson’s goal is to help your child become aware of scents in their environment.  Another reason younger students should do the traditional work can be found in the WARNING at the bottom of this article.  

Over the last several years, we have studied why our olfactory system (our sense of smell) is important to us in our various Apologia Textbooks: Human Anatomy and Physiology, an elementary study and human anatomy is the entire second half of General Science, the first middle school science book.  The sense of smell is a way for us to gather messages about the environment around us. So, literally, with each breath we take, we are sampling our environment for smells that would indicate various dangers, food, or other individuals, etc.  

Since my boys are older and have already had the luxury of using the Montessori primary curriculum (including the smelling jars), we made an extension for our purposes.  Here is a list of spices you can use, the spices that are in bold type are the ones we used.    

  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaf
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Celery Seed
  • Chili Powder
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Mustard Seed
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Poppy seed
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Spearmint
  • Thyme



12 Spices

Party Cups (Read the Warning at the bottom of the post)


Notebook paper


Stickie Notes 



1.  Choose 12 different spices.  

2.  On the bottom of each cup, prior to pouring in the spice, number the cups 1-12, with a sharpie.  

3.  Pour a small amount of spice into one cup.  Place a stickie note on the spice jar with the number that corresponds to number on the bottom of the cup that contains that spice.  

4.  Share one cup at a time and request that your children use their hand to wave the smell toward their nose.  It is called Spice Game Waftingwafting and here is a demonstration.  You will see why you should not put your nose over the cup and sniff when you read the warning at the bottom of this article.  

5.  Have your children number their paper 1-12.  As they finish exploring each spice, ask them to write the name of the spice they think each smell is.  I did not blindfold my boys, but this would narrow the senses being tested down to just their sense of smell (and, in the process, protect those eyes)!  Since I did not blindfold, my boys could see the color, texture, and features of each spice, which did make it a little easier)!

6.  Once your children have explored all 12 spice scents, reveal what each spice is, starting with #1. 

Spice Game Blake I was a little bit surprised with the results.  Blake loves to cook and is in the kitchen with me cooking most meals.  So, I expected him to do extremely well (and he did, 10 out of 12 he got right).  But Gage came in a close second and he rarely cooks. However, Gage has always seemed to have heightened senses, so maybe this was just further confirmation of that theory.  Chase was a distant third!  He needs more time in the kitchen cooking, apparently!  

Spice Game Warning

WARNING!!  When dealing with anything you are smelling, there is always a chance of getting too strong a whiff or getting it in your eyes. Therefore, I’ve always been taught and taught my boys that to smell an unknown item, you should do so by waving their hand over the item to draw the scent to you (wafting). Well, even with this lesson firmly established and us using this practice throughout this project, Gage, my 12 year old son, on the next to the last spice, got that spice in his eyes, not once but TWICE.  Gage decided he couldn’t smell the spice with just the light scent his hand was able to direct toward his face, so he put his nose over the cup of spice.  Well, he breathed into the cup accidentally and the Ground Clove flew right into his eyes. I’m still thanking our Father in Heaven it was only Clove… it could have been MUCH worse. So, if you have young children I recommend NOT using open cups with spices.  

See why we named the blog (and our farm) “Live and Learn” Farm? We are always learning…. sometimes, the hard way!  I’m not sure who learned this lesson more, me or Gage!  

Until Next time…


Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 1

Columbus Study



Launch Day!  We started Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning today!  As most of you know, we homeschool with a very hands-on (Montessori-ish) approach to education, so we are using lots of  supplemental resources to augment this course.  We are doing the entire Paths of Exploration as an intensive study over the summer, so there will be lots of territory covered in my posts!   As I post these articles, I will also be giving reviews of their product in a real-world, running review of this curriculum. This article is about Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 1.


Steps for thinking


We decided to do the upper elementary section for all of Columbus first and then circle back and do the Middle School supplement curriculum after we finish Columbus Upper Elementary curriculum.  That way, all of the boys have the foundation that the Upper Elementary curriculum lays first before we jump into a more extensive Columbus Middle School study.  Besides, we are just figuring out the style of this curriculum and I’m already seeing areas that need to be refined and cleaned up! But we are going to do Columbus Unit pretty much as it is presented in both the Upper Elementary and the Middle School texts with a few minor modifications. After we have completed both texts, we may decide to modify our approach.   

Section A is Copywork/Dictation with “Language Skills” being the area mentioned as the target for this section.  I really thought I would skip this section before we started, but I decided to teach ColumbusHandwriting without Tears pretty much as it is presented and I am glad I did (at least for this section).  It is good for them to hear poetry and to try to transcribe it from my dictation. Any missed words become part of their vocabulary words for that week. It was fun and it is a great way for me to keep their handwriting skills up. All of the boys are excellent at writing (Thank you Handwriting without Tears!)… and yes, they learned how to write cursive!!  The dictation was from an original poem by Debbie Strayer (one of the authors).  

Section B is Reader with “Language Skills, Thinking Skills, and History” listed as the areas targeted by this work area. This is where everything was terribly mixed up!  There are two required reading books about Christopher Columbus. One is Meet Christopher Columbus Meet Christopher Columbusand the other is Christopher Columbus.  Since the names are so close, it would have been helpful if they explained which one to read from (maybe giving the author each time).  

Section C is Read-Aloud and Discussion and the targeted areas for this section are “Language Skills, Thinking Skills and Writing”.  I have no idea why there are two sections both with a focus on reading aloud.  This is why it was confusing.  In Section B it says “read one or two pages aloud” but in Section C it states “listen as your teacher reads pages 1-6 aloud”.  The boys JUST read pages 1-2 aloud and now I’m reading these same pages again? I thought maybe I had the boys read the wrong book aloud, but no, it’s the same book Christopher Columbus.  So, this was confusing.  We have two hard copies of both these books for us to use but I also purchased a Kindle version of Meet Christopher Columbus and the boys all downloaded it onto their Kindles for Christopher Columbustheir read aloud sections.  I had all three boys take turns reading paragraphs.  The Bennie Rhodes book was not available as a Kindle download.  Anyway, they really enjoyed being able to read it from their own Kindles (and even figured out how to have their kindles read to them… LOL)!  The discussion question was terribly basic for this age group (What do you think Christopher Columbus’ dream was when he was a young boy?”.  Both books we read aloud provided the answer.  If you were paying half a second of attention, you would have this question answered.  Maybe that was the point for the first Lesson, but the boys could have handled a much more thought-provoking question!  

Section D is Word Study. The areas focused on with this section are “Spelling, Phonics and Vocabulary”. For this one the authors discuss “long I” words from the original poem that were part of the copy/dictation work from Section A.  This was very basic also for upper elementary students.  We did it but we will augment the next lesson to add more challenging words!  There was also a discussion here about the prefix “un” and how it was used in the reading from Sections B and C.  They provide an area for the students to list 6 words that start with “un” and define them.  This was pretty fun for them, but still very basic. 

un equals not


Also as part of Section D we located cities in Italy on the globe. We loved this part and the boys did great… just one thing, the next section (section E) is Geography.  Why did they put this under Section D, Word Study?  I have to assume it was a mistake.  They also had to identify port cities in the US after defining what a “port” is.  With the help of the globe, they listed out several from both coasts.  That was a fun activity as well.  

Like I just mentioned, Section E is Geography with the area targeted being listed as “Science”.  Here we are learning about a compass.  We did the worksheets for the CompassRose-MPScompass but we also printed out this great compass work from Montessori Print Shop. Since we love hands-on learning, we decided to create our own compass. Here is that post.    

Section F is Writing with “Thinking Skills” being listed as the area being targeted. The boys were to list the details of Columbus’ birthday as described in the text.  Then list the details from a typical birthday for them.  In the student notebook is a Venn diagram where they would list the individual traits for each and the common traits.  Great exercise!  

Finally, Section G is Independent Reading.  At the beginning of the provided student notebook is a reading list. The independent reading section is meant to be just thirty minutes of fun reading. However, this is exactly what they do every night already, so we have modified this a little bit so they can read anything about Christopher Columbus for thirty minutes on Wednesdays and Sundays. We have quite a few Columbus books in our library from coloring books and picture books to exhaustive studies … so they should not run out of material to read for a while. I wrote a post to share our library resources, you can find it here.  One other modification I have made is I added in an art component.  All of my boys took Drawing this past year as an elective, so on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they are going to spend thirty minutes each day drawing something that is applicable to the subject we are studying.  They do not have to complete their drawings the same day or even the same week. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!  

We are year-round homeschoolers, however most of the curriculum the boys were working on during the year they have completed.  So this curriculum is a great way to keep many of the skills the boys have acquired over the year fresh and to dive into a new subject.  In addition to this curriculum, the boys are keeping their math going all year.  So their workload is dramatically reduced during the summer.  I know some may be wondering why we do this.  Well, we quickly realized after that first summer off from homeschooling that it was quite hard to get back into the routine.  We decided (with the boys) that we would have a dramatically reduced schedule, but would keep going during the summer months.  For me, this curriculum is an experiment.  I have been toying with the idea of using an all-inclusive curriculum for a couple of years;  one where all the subjects (with the exception of Science and Math) are covered and are integrated.  This curriculum may or may not be the right one for an all-inclusive, but this was a great one to test the concept with.  I’ll give you more feedback on that as we work through this curriculum.  I hope these posts will be a blessing to you and your family!  If so, leave me a note!  

Until next time…. 

We are connecting this week with the Ultimate Homeschool Link-up.  Be sure to visit them and the other bloggers linked there, they all have GREAT posts!  I especially love the Firefly one!

 The Homeschool Village

Philosophy Adventure Giveaway and Launch Party

philosophy adventure 4


I am excited to tell you about a new Homeschool Curriculum called Philosophy Adventure by Stacy Farrell at Homeschool Adventure Co. I was asked to be a part of their launch team and I am thrilled to have found this curriculum. So, welcome to our Philosophy Adventure Giveaway and Launch Party! I was given a digital copy of this curriculum, in exchange for my honest opinion and assistance in finding those pesky little typos that sneak through the editing process (as all of us bloggers know oh too well).  I do not and will not receive any compensation for my review other than the curriculum mentioned above!  Be sure to read to the bottom of the post where you can register to win a free digital copy of the complete curriculum!  

So, Let me introduce you to Philosophy Adventure. It was written by Stacy Farrell and is designed for students in the 6th – 12th grades.  We will be using this curriculum next year with our 8th, 7th and 4th graders.  It will be a little stretch for my youngest, but we will be able to modify it to fit his skill set.  Philosophy Adventure™ helps our children cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of philosophy and the impact of ideas.

I know “Philosophy Adventure” sounds like it is all about philosophy, which is overwhelmingly not Biblical at all, but I can assure you it’s much more than just a curriculum about philosophers!  The study examines the pre-Socratic philosophers, what they taught, thought, what and who influenced their thinking and who they interacted with.  But most importantly, it introduces their teachings from the perspective of how does it fit with a biblical worldview.  So, it asks the question and our students answer…  how does each of these philosophers’ view match or conflict with a Biblical worldview.  Although this material can be used for our children to work independently, I think it is far more valuable as a tool to provoke thoughtful and deep discussion for the entire family!  

Philosophy Adventure 2

As most of your know, we have a Montessori slant to our homeschool environment.  One of the foundational principles of a Montessori education is that of being life long learners.  Ironically, Stacy mentions in the introduction:

We consider ourselves students rather than scholars.  Life-long learners.

AND, not only is Stacy’s educational philosophy in-line with our Montessori leanings, but there are also Memory Cards that we fully intend to use to create a board game; a timeline that shows not only the philosophers, but also is color coded to show the Rulers, Prophets, Biblical Heroes, Scientists, Literary Works and Major Events of their time; Map and geography work; a Write, Think and Speak Journal; and more!  It meshes so well with the way we homeschool!  I know this is so much information to absorb!  Download a sample lesson and see what you think for yourself!  I will give a full review in the next couple of weeks, but I really wanted to introduce you to the curriculum and tell you I already love it!  Here is their promotional video that does a great job at giving you a quick preview of this wonderful curriculum!


Here is what is included in each lesson of Philosophy Adventure:

  • Meet the Philosopher where we learn the philosopher’s story
  • Sections for in-depth study where the students Write, Think, and Speak about what they are studying
  • Geography and Map studies
  • The School of Thought associated with the philosopher
  • And finally a Contrast section which provides primary source materials (or secondary if primary is unavailable) from the philosopher, and the “Biblical Worldview” where the text discusses if the philosopher’s ideas align with a biblical worldview.

Along with the primary text, a Student Workbook and Teacher Resources are included. The Write, Think and Speak journal is in the Student Workbook, along with Map work, writing and speaking checklists and Vocabulary.   In the teacher resources’ section are the memory cards, timelines to print, and the quizzes and answer keys.

Philosophy Adventure is available in several different formats:

  • Complete Set of Printed Text and Student Workbook with Resources CD – $89.95

  • Reader with Resources CD (includes digital rather than print edition of Student Workbook) – $69.95

  • Digital Edition of Reader & All Resources on CD $49.95

  • Digital Download Edition – $39.95

 PA Giveaway



Be sure to subscribe to their newsletter so you can be notified of updates and new volumes of the curriculum! 

Now for the fun part… we have been given a digital download, including reader, student workbook, and teacher resources to give away to one of our readers!  Good luck!!



2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum


We have homeschooled now for four years.  This is our 2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum.  Prior to homeschooling, our boys attended a small local private Montessori school, where I was on the board for the school. Our boys have reached the point of thinking and working abstractly, so most of the Montessori materials are no longer used in our curriculum. So what do we now?  Come & see!!

I am very thankful that we stumbled blindly into a Montessori school! It has been a complete blessing to our family and continues to be … it is how we approach learning, education and life in general. So, although we have very traditional homeschool material now, our approach is still firmly grounded in the Montessori pedagogy.


#1 (oldest son) 7th Grade:

Exercises in English G
Grammar / English: Loyola Press Exercises in English G
Writing:IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
IEW Beutiful Feet Geography Literature
Literature: GA Henty Books (Cat of Bubastes) and Jim Hodges Study GuideCat of Bubastes
Spelling: All About Spelling 3-5All About Spelling 3
Vocabulary: Loyola Press Vocabulary in Action GVocabulary in Action G
Algebra: Video Text Algebra II (CLEP when complete!)VideoText Algebra
World History / Geography: Mystery of History IIMOH 2
American History / Geography: Paths of Exploration /Trail Guide to LearningPOE TGTL
Civics: God and Government Volume 1God and Government 1
Science: Apologia Physical ScienceApologia Physical Science
Logic: Fallacy DetectiveFallacy Detective
Foreign Language: Croghan Language Academy SpanishCroghan Language Academy
Economics: Starting a Micro Business for Teensmicrobus-workbk
Physical Education: Soccer, Karate
Scripture Studies: Torah, Writings, Prophets, NT
Electives: Art, PhotographyVirtual homeschool group name




(Middle Son) 6th Grade:

Grammar / English: Loyola Press Exercises in English FExercises in English F
Writing:IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
IEW Beutiful Feet Geography Literature
Literature: GA Henty Books (Cat of Bubastes) and Jim Hodges Study Guide Cat of Bubastes
Spelling: All About Spelling 3-5All About Spelling 3
Vocabulary: Loyola Press Vocabulary in Action EVocabulary in Action E
Creative Writing: IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
Algebra: Video Text Algebra I (CLEP when completes II!)VideoText Algebra
World History / Geography: Mystery of History IIMOH 2
American History / Geography: Paths of Exploration /Trail Guide to LearningPOE TGTL
Civics: God and Government Volume 1God and Government 1
Science: Apologia General ScienceGeneral Science
Logic: Fallacy DetectiveFallacy Detective
Foreign Language: Croghan Language Academy SpanishCroghan Language Academy
Economics: Starting a Micro Business for Teensmicrobus-workbk
Physical Education: Soccer, Karate
Scripture Studies: Torah, Writings, Prophets, NT
Electives: Art, PhotographyVirtual homeschool group name



#3 (Youngest Son) 3rd Grade

Grammar / English: Loyola Press Exercises in English DExercises in English D
Writing:IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
IEW Beutiful Feet Geography Literature
Literature: GA Henty Books (Cat of Bubastes) and Jim Hodges Study GuideCat of Bubastes
Spelling: All About Spelling 3-5All About Spelling 3
Vocabulary: Loyola Press Vocabulary in Action DVocabulary in Action D
Creative Writing: IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
Teaching Textbooks Pre-AlgebraTeaching Textbooks Pre Algebra Montessori Measurement (EDUTC)Edutc Measurement    Montessori Area and Volume from Houston Montessori Center
World History / Geography: Mystery of History IIMOH 2
American History / Geography: Paths of Exploration /Trail Guide to LearningPOE TGTL
Science: Apologia Exploring Creation Zoology 3Exploring Creation Zoology 3
Logic: Fallacy DetectiveFallacy Detective
Foreign Language: Croghan Language Academy SpanishCroghan Language Academy
Economics: Starting a Micro Business for Teensmicrobus-workbk
Physical Education: Soccer, Karate
Scripture Studies: Torah, Writings, Prophets, NT
Electives: Art, PhotographyVirtual homeschool group name


Note:  Items above are linked to my Amazon affiliate account.  The very small amount of money that we make from our affiliation with Amazon is used to augment our curriculum needs.  Photos are shared from Amazon.

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