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Montessori Made Affordable December 30th

As I scoured the internet today looking for a great deal for the Montessori Made Affordable 12.30.13 edition, it really dawned on my how much I love Montessori materials. My children have grown to the point of being abstract thinkers so we don’t have as many concrete materials left in our homeschool…. but I just love them. So much so, I actually wrote an article about my Montessori Love Affair ūüôā

Anyway, I found a couple deals but don’t want to start adding too much so I’m focusing on one. Today’s deal is from Alison’s Montessori also. I’ve already mentioned how much of my own materials were from Alison’s and how impressed I’ve always been with their customer service, so I won’t go into great detail about their reputation… I’ll just get to the deal!

I love Zoology! My boys love zoology! We had every single puzzle (both botany and zoology) and every set of nomenclature cards to match! So, when I find good deals on the puzzles, you will always hear about them! Today’s deal is Parts of a Turtle Puzzle and it is 66% off!!

Parts of a Turtle


I always partnered three-part cards with my puzzles.  You can print these cards from Montessori Services.  There are some free ones from Montessori Materials too.

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There are a ton of resources for turtles that will compliment this puzzle and function as strike the imagination morsels… here are a few I found:

Lesson Plans:

Unit study: and

My favorite Strike the Imagination books on Turtles:

I’ll Follow the Moon. ¬†I love having the strike the imagination books in hardback books, but if that is not in your budget, this one is free for Kindle. ¬†You don’t have to have a kindle to read it either. ¬†You can download kindle software for your PC. ¬†Google it.

I'll follow the moon

Minn of the Mississippi.  This is one of our favorite books ever!

Minn of the Mississippi

Until our next post on Montessori Made Affordable, I’ll leave you with a Montessori quote about …

‚ÄúImagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.‚ÄĚ ¬†¬†~Maria Montessori



New Feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable

We are a Montessori homeschooling family.  I have been homeschooling for five years and prior to that, I was the Chairman of the Board for a local Montessori School for three years.  We LOVE the Montessori pedagogy and believe it is one of the reasons our boys are so advanced in their education… Montessori created a strong foundation to build on.  However, Montessori materials are expensive which makes many of the items out of reach for homeschoolers. Because I really believe in the Montessori method, I want to help you by creating a new feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable.

Montessori Made Affordable

As I find items that are either a less expensive version of a traditional Montessori work or material or a deal I’ve stumbled upon, I’ll post them here on our blog and on our Facebook page.  It may be an article on how to make the item, it may be a link to a sale, it may be a used item… but any and all will be opportunities to help you implement Montessori concepts in your homeschool more economically.

This blog is actually part of our upper level Montessori homeschool curriculum.  We teach creative writing via Institute for Excellence in Writing and part of my boys’ creative writing curriculum is to blog here at Live and Learn Farm. (Note:  We are starting a link up for tweens and teens in 2014 for other homeschoolers to have an outlet for their children to blog as part of their writing curriculum too!)

In addition to the blog being part of our boys’ creative writing curriculum, it is also part of their Montessori practical life studies. Maria Montessori suggested an Erdkinder environment for children in upper level grades.  We have created our version of an Erdkinder here at Live and Learn Farm… we call it farmschooling.  All of our boys have farm businesses, and they will also be blogging about their businesses.  In this plane of development, Montessori encouraged teaching our children a means to financial independence.

Maria Montessori Four Planes of Development

Along that line, and in the interest of full disclosure… we are an affiliate with some organizations (Amazon, for instance) and are paid a commission if you purchase due to our recommendation.  We will ALWAYS be honest in our recommendation and only recommend items we have used or would use in our homeschool. There is ZERO additional cost to you and it is a tiny (and I mean tiny) amount to us.  That is part of teaching the boys how to earn a living by doing something they LOVE to do (and me too) … writing.

If you are enjoying this post and want to see more, please sign up for our newsletter, join us on Facebook and Google+, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest or sign up on the right to follow our blog.

We hope by showing you how we are continuing to use the Montessori educational philosophy to teach our boys in the upper grades, sharing what is working, how we are implementing it and being genuine in our failures, that you will be blessed by our blog and that it will help you continue to Montessori homeschool into the upper grades.  If we succeed, we hope you will consider our efforts to share our experiences worthwhile and will help – by not only using our links when we introduce the items if they make sense for your homeschool – but also by sharing them with your friends.  We will learn together and help each other!

Thank you for being part of our community and we look forward to presenting Montessori Made Affordable in 2014!






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

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 ‚Äúsensorial explorer‚ÄĚ.

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 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 ¬†‚ÄúLanguage Skills‚ÄĚ. ¬†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 ‚ÄúLanguage Skills‚ÄĚ. ¬†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 ‚ÄúSpelling, Phonics and Vocabulary‚ÄĚ. ¬†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 ūüôā ), 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 ‚ÄúHistory and Thinking Skills‚ÄĚ. 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 ‚ÄúLanguage 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 ¬†‚ÄúLanguage Skills‚ÄĚ skills. ¬†More reading from our required books.¬†

Section C:¬†Read-Aloud and Narration. Focuses on ‚ÄúLanguage Skills and Thinking Skills‚ÄĚ. ¬†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 ‚ÄúSpelling and Phonics‚ÄĚ. ¬†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

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