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Curriculum, Schedules, Checklists 2014 – 2015 5th, 8th, and 9th Grades

We are very hands-on (Montessori-ish) homeschoolers and have been homeschooling for five years, headed into our sixth! This article is all about our homeschool curriculum, schedule and checklists for 2014-2015. My boys are in 9th, 8th and 5th grades. Since Chase and Gage both are taking high school level classes, we are now at the point where we are using transcripts. Thankfully our umbrella school, HomeLife Academy makes it easy with their new AppleCore Reporting System!  You will notice that their schedules have changed DRAMATICALLY from last year.  If you haven’t read my post 18 Summers yet, that is the best way to explain what has happened…

2014-2015 homeschool curriculum, schedules, checklists

That being said, we can’t change our stripes too much!  So, you will see on my boys’ daily checklist they still have a variety of daily chores they do from vacuuming to washing clothes. And they regularly swap out chore lists to allow them to learn all aspects of running a home. We have also taken practical life skills to the next level with a focus on entrepreneurship.  I just received my Lemonade to Leadership curriculum from IEW. We will be using it this summer. Gage’s business (Deluxe Clucks) is firmly established and he is selling eggs and starting to sell chicks.  However, Chase and Blake’s businesses still need to be identified and developed. So, we thought the Lemonade to Leadership study would be great to help kick their creative juices in! You’ll notice the activities associated with their business are built into their work plans as well.


Since two of my boys are taking high school classes, I created a High School Course List for the high school courses (required and some electives) recommended byHomeLife Academy for students who plan to attend college.  (NOTE: Be sure to check what is required for your state. These are for my state, TN.)  My boys are planning to attend Christian Brothers University in Memphis. So, I am also checking with the University to determine what they expect from incoming homeschool students, academically.  Many schools now have their catalogs online so you can see what is required.  Also, my boys will be taking CLEP exams to test out of some college courses. Each college allows a different amount of CLEPs… so be sure you know the maximum allowed to transfer in. CBU happens to be 30 hours.

So, yes, I have dramatically cut back their schedules this year. They are getting in their 4 hours of school required by the State of TN (plus some) in the mornings. The afternoons are for other pursuits. Their business endeavors, development of personal interests (photography, computer programming, etc.) and just being able to have fun and enjoy being a child still. Time to build forts, or ride their scooters or bikes, explore the woods behind our house or hangout with a great book… any and all of these do happen on a regular basis now and most likely will continue.

So, let’s get to their schedules, classes, curriculum, checklists, etc. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me!  I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have!

Chase – 9th Grade

Chase 2014

Chase is my oldest son, he is entering High School officially (although he earned quite a few high school credits over the last couple of years). I have attached his schedule in Word. If you want to modify it to fit your needs, feel free to! Work Plan Chase 9th b.  The boys like having a daily checklist and it helps me keep up with where they are. Here is one that I created (in Word) for his 9th grade year. Chase Daily Checklist 2014 – 2015

The courses Chase is taking are listed below:

Gage – 8th Grade

Gage 2014 e

Gage is my middle son, he is actually in 8th grade, but has been taking high school level classes since last year as well. He has earned a couple of high school credits already and this year, almost every class will be for high school credits. I have attached his schedule in Word so you can modify it to fit your needs also. Work Plan Gage 8th b.  Here is Gage’s checklist as well. Gage Daily Checklist 2014 – 2015.  You will notice that Chase and Gage’s class list is almost exactly alike. However, there are a few differences. Gage is early in Algebra 2, Apologia Biology not Chemistry, Lower levels in All About Spelling, Exercises in English and Vocabulary in Action.

 The courses Gage is taking are listed below:

 Blake – 5th Grade

Blake 2014 b

Blake is my youngest son, he is in the 5th grade. I have attached his work plan / schedule in Word also. Work Plan Blake 5th b.  Here is checklist as well. Blake Daily Checklist 2014 – 2015.

The courses Blake is taking are listed below:

I have a Curriculum spreadsheet that I use to track what all the boys are taking (and have taken) all the way through high school. Keep in mind, it changes regularly… but it does give me a framework to work within and helps me identify gaps.

I hope this article and the free printable documents will be a blessing to you and your homeschool!

Until next time…


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….


2014 Bucket List by Gage

Good Morning! Today I am going to tell you about the things I want to do in 2014, my bucket list. You may be thinking “A bucket list, is that a list of things you do with a bucket?” Nope. A bucket list is a list of things you want to do, before a certain time, like mine will be 7 things I want to do in 2014. Just like my Tween boy Gift Ideas post, this is not numbered from most wanted to least wanted, just random.  So let’s get to my 2014 Bucket List.  

2014 Bucket List by Gage

1. Sell  20 dozen eggs in 2014. I want to sell eggs for my business so it can get more known and can help pay for the expenses of raising my chickens.  That will only be 5 dozen per quarter, so I think this is manageable.  I am going to create posters for my dad to post at his business in town.  Since most people living in the city don’t raise chickens, they might want my farm fresh eggs! 

2. Make a stop motion Lego video with over 1000 pictures. I have worked on a few stop motion videos over the last few years, but they only had about 200 pictures max. I am hoping I can create one with sound and audio in the background.  I need to learn how to add the audio and sound effects.  Mom got us a subscription so we can do hackschooling and learn things that really interest us.  So, I’m going to look there for some tutorials there.  

3. Write 50 posts for our homeschool blog Live and Learn Farm. I enjoy blogging about my chickens and what’s up with school around here, so why not do 50 if they are fun?  That is less than one a week, and we already have it in our homeschool schedule to write one every Tuesday.  

4. Add some larger chickens to our flock so I can get more and larger eggs.  I sure love my basketball bantams, but their eggs sure are small!  So, I’ll do some research on the larger breeds of chickens and decide on which one would be best for us.  I have Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens which will help me decide the right breed.  

5. Go to the Pink Palace, and watch their movie on caving. I have been interested in caves ever since I watched a video on blue holes which are deep under water caves that can preserve bones and things for thousands of year.  We just found out we are going tomorrow because the Caving movie will stop playing on January 10th!!!  

6. Invent a useful basic machine or tool or make an already invented one more efficient. I want to create a tool or machine or make one better because if I want think it would be fun and cool to create my own invention. 

7. Master the controls to an advanced RC helicopter. I have been interested in Advanced technology for a while ever since my friend got a RC helicopter I have been trying to master a basic RC helicopter for a while but it only has up-down, and left-right, So It is not very easy to work with.


2014 Bucket List by Chase

You ever get that feeling, especially when you’re writing, when you just don’t know where to start?  You know what your subject is, but just do not know how to open that topic?  When I started writing this post, that’s just how I felt.  I wasn’t even sure what a bucket list was, so I think the best way to open is to come up with a definition for the word.  Here’s what I came up with.

Chase Bucket List

Bucket  List — A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during a set time frame.

So after a bit of thought, here are a few things that I decided to do before the end of 2014.  I’m not sure if I will be able to accomplish all of these, but I know these are things that interest me and caught my attention.

First of all, I would like to learn a bit more about writing code.  I’ve been writing basic HTML and other basic languages for fun for a while, and I’m pretty good at some of them, but I want to begin working with other more advanced languages such as PHP, C++, and CSS.  Although all of these are website languages, I also want to learn other languages for operating systems, apps, and more. Now these other languages that I’ve been learning weren’t completely useless, even though the languages themselves had little or no use.  The most important thing they taught me wasn’t the language, it was the layout and order of code. Before I started using these languages, I didn’t know anything about coding. Now, I know how to write strings, functions, etc.  Even though no language is the same, a lot of them are similar in form and style.

coding languages

Using the languages mentioned above, I will finish my website. Although I could go ahead and build it without coding, That’s just not really fun, and it limits your creativity.  Lets say you have a little bar in your website, off to the side that divides your site into two neat halves. But it just so happens… that your bar is hot pink… and you can’t change its color. This would be a complete tragedy for anyone who can’t code, because no one wants a site with a hot pink line down the center. And I’ve actually run into some problems on my site relating to color and limited styles, but once I know more about coding, I can go in, change that ugly pink into a normal grey or something, and there, your website now looks 100 times better.  It’s for these reasons, that I want to learn coding.  

Photoshop_CC_iconTo finish mastering Photoshop is also a goal of mine.  I’ve been able to do a lot of the stuff needed to use Photoshop for a long time. I’ve created some great photos, but there are still some aspects that baffle me.  For instance, the 3D aspect, as well as creating styles and effects.  All of these are valuable in creating great and wonderful pictures, and I’m looking forward to learning all of these and becoming a professional user.

Macro photography is something that interests me too, and it goes with Photoshop. canon Contrary to what you might be thinking, macro photography is not taking pictures of large things (Like the word “macro” implies),  It’s actually taking pictures of small things and making them appear big.  I’ve actually been working on this for a while and I’m pretty good at it, but I’m planning on getting even better. I learned almost everything I know about photography at, and I recommend it to anyone who is new to or just wants to learn more about photography. (They have a free trial right now too.) Once I’ve got a few nice pics I’ll most likely sell them online for anyone to use.

tennesseeAnother small thing that interests me is getting to know my surroundings better.  By that I basically mean taking more days off and going to do random fun stuff in my general area.  Here in Tennessee, we might not have the Grand Canyon, but we still have some cool stuff, we’ve got mountains, caves, underground lakes, and more.  No, I certainly don’t plan on visiting them all but a few would be nice.

These few things, my website, coding, and Photoshop and photography, and days off for personal hobbies and things that I love to do.  And by the end of 2014, I plan on having more experience in all of these areas.



After writing this post, I learned a valuable thing or two about using photo editors.  Although in general, I think Adobe photo editors out rank most others in terms of excellence, I found a different editor that I really like.  I used PicMonkey to design the header of my post.  This site is very user friendly and quick for simple image manipulation.  We have the Royale account, which gave me more options than the free one.  I plan on using it a lot more in the future for my blog posts.  


They are Laying!!

Hello! Sorry I have not posted in a while I have been busy with ALL kinds of stuff from chicken accidents to school to a friend’s birthday party!  So I have not been keeping you updated on my babies.  

I have a surprise… They are laying!! Our baby chicks and teenage chicks are laying eggs!  YAY!!!  If you remember, a friend of ours, Mrs. Pamela, gave us the teenage chicks. They are Red Sex Links and White Leghorns and there are four of them. We bought the bantams from Welp Hatchery.  There are probably 15 hen bantams laying eggs. With another 15 or so roosters… anybody want some roosters?


Hens are a' laying


Here is a picture of the variety of eggs we are gathering daily. The eggs vary in shape, size, color, and weight. The biggest ones are from our Rhode Island Reds that we have had for several years. The next brown one and the two white ones are from the teenage chicks. The cute little bitty ones are from my baby bantams… but they are not babies anymore!  I have not found any itsy bitsy eggs from our Dutch, Blue Bantam chicks yet… but am expecting to find one of them soon! Can you imagine how little they will be? The smallest eggs so far are about 1.5″ x 1.25″ to the big eggs that are 3″x 2.5″. The color ranges from a white/cream color, to a reddish-brown and then just plain tan. And the shape of the eggs can range from a normal ovular shape to a pointy bullet-shaped egg. I now have to check all the boxes every day, not every 2-4 days on the bantam side, since they were not laying yet.  

My mom loves the little eggs, she was so surprised at how small they are. Speaking of small eggs… my brother, Chase, loves omelets. My dad has been joking around with Chase saying his next omelet will be a three egg omelet using the littlest eggs. We have not cooked with any yet, but we are having breakfast for dinner tonight… I’m sure my mom will have me comparing eggs and photographing our dinner.  I’ll post those pictures soon!  I am sorry I left you all waiting for another post, while all these things at my house were going on. From now on I will try to post more often. 

One final note, we have a possum or raccoon attacking our chickens, and we have lost 3 chickens including two of my favorites… Cuddles and Sunny and another barred rock, Checker, who I have not talked about before. We just borrowed a live trap to try to trap the animal. Please pray we catch whatever it is getting my babies! I’ll update you on that soon too!  

See ya soon!

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

Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 3

POE Columbus Lesson 1 Part 3



As you know we started Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning for our summer all-inclusive curriculum experiment.  This post relates to Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 3.  If you missed lesson 1, part 1, you can find it here. and Lesson 1, Part 2 you can find here.  Lesson 3 focuses heavily on map and globe work.  We loved Part 3.  So, lets jump into the lesson.

Section A. Copywork/Dictation.  Focuses on “Language Skills.  As in Part 1 and 2, it is from the original poem, A Journey of Adventure, written by the late Debbie Strayer.  Today we had two areas the boys wanted to explore on the globe:  Cathay and Venice.  We never did find what Cathay, but they did find Venice!  Both words ended up on their spelling list.  

Section B: Reader. Focuses on  “Language Skills”.  There was more reading from our required books. Section B and Section C still seem very cumbersome and clumsy.  These sections seem redundant to me.  But, we will continue to do both through Columbus and re-evaluate before we hit Jamestown.  

Meet Christopher Columbus

Meet Christopher Columbus



Section C: Read-Aloud and Discussion. Focuses on “Language Skills”.  Today the boys discussed a section from our read aloud regarding what happened during a storm.  This

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

section asked for them to describe the storm.  Our Institute for Excellence in Writing really prepared them well for this section.  They are very familiar with “dressing up” a writing with descriptive adjectives. 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, Phonics and Vocabulary”.  In this section, syllables were discussed.  They discussed some of the tried and true ways of identifying each syllable in a word, like clapping them out.  This is also how All About Spelling teaches syllable identification as well.  For those that love using hands-on learning to teach a concept, here are some free cards to print from Montessori For Learning to divide up words by their number of syllables. Have your students clap out the word.  I have to tell you, Paths of Exploration introduces a new way of teaching syllables to young students.  I haven’t seen it recommended by any other organization so I won’t share this technique in this post (you need to buy the curriculum because I would consider this proprietary information 🙂 ), but let me assure you it is really smart and so simple!

In this section the boys also reviewed what “re” means.  We discussed a section from our read aloud that used a “re” word and what the word meant.    

re equals again 

Section E:  Geography.  Focusing on “History and Thinking Skills”. Today we discussed Marco Polo and traced his land route to China.  We looked at the water routes to determine if the water routes were quicker or not to China.  This was a great way to help them actually use the globe to think.  We used it as an opportunity to discuss various ways of looking at routes and the various types of maps and globes.  We will be making a Goode’s Interrupted Projection Map using an orange next week.  Stayed tuned for that project, I will make a new post for it!  


Goode map


Section F:  Writing with a focus on “Language Skills and Writing”.  We discussed Journals and what journals are used for in relation to an explorer.  As part of their study, they had to write a journal entry for today.  I am actually thinking of adding this as a rest of the summer project.  They used to journal when they were little (I would write what they dictated to me about their day).  They still love going back and reading them.  I think I have talked myself into it!  

Section G: Independent Reading.  As we discussed in parts 1 and 2, 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. I am adding our favorite map and globe books below. These books will be a part of what they will read during their independent reading times.  

Maps and Mapping                      Maps and Mapmaking

Mapping skills           How to draw maps and charts

Map Keys Rookie Read about Geography          Types of Maps Rookie Read About Geography


Looking at Maps and Globes Rookie Read about Geography


In this particular lesson POE did NOT teach some points that would have been very beneficial and go right along with this study, especially for young students. I’m going to list some items below that would be great to go with Part 3 since it is so Geography oriented with a focus on land and water. Pick and choose the works that work best for you and your homeschool.  These are the activities that we added to Part three, although most of these are review.  I’ll be creating a new post to show you how we used some of these:  

I hope pulling these books and the hands-on lessons together for each part of the Paths of Exploration lessons are a blessing for you and your children! If so, please leave a comment of encouragement. Sometimes, us bloggers feel like we are writing and nobody is reading it! So, it is really so nice to get comments that let us know you are reading what we post. If you have other suggestions on activities that you are using for this lesson, please let me know that too!

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…


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