Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11- Jingle Bells

After a few days break from Christmas music, we were back at it today with the popular Christmas song Jingle Bells. As some may know this song was originally written for Thanksgiving in 1857 by James Pierpoint. Somewhere along the way it transitioned to a Christmas tune that is still a favorite among children. While my kids didn't do a craft today, we did make sure to jingle bells as we sang this song.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh yeah

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8 - Silent Night

Today, we again focused on a German Christmas carol, translated into English by John Young in 1859. This carol is one that is quite well-known and even in our household my two older boys know the beginning verse completely. It was fun teaching them that it actually comes from another language and they enjoyed listening to German singers on YouTube. Here is the version we enjoy, though.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

December 7- O Christmas Tree

Many people know the first couple lines of this German Christmas carol, but often forget the remainder of the song. It is a song of controversial history due to its use during the Third Reich to try to remove the Christian elements of the holiday season (more history here). There are various versions of the song, though, and below is an excellent rendition that compares the unchanging color of the Christmas tree to our ever-constant God. (The rest of this version can be found here.)

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer's here,
But also when 'tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!


O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!

Though I don't have pictures, my children made their Christmas tree crafts today using the Shapes Tree from DLTK's.

12 Days of Homeschool

No, this is not part of our Christmas music study, but it is a well-done version of a Christmas song as a response to all the questions we get as homeschoolers. Enjoy! I'll get back to Christmas music, right after this.

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4- Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels We Have Heard on High is a traditional French carol that was translated into English by James Chadwick in 1862. More history can be found at Wikipedia. What I love about the language of this carol is that it introduces a simple, yet prevalent, Latin phrase to my children. It is a more familiar carol that I have enjoyed singing since I was a child myself.

Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song? Refrain

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ, the Lord, the new-born King. Refrain

See him in a manger laid
Whom the angels praise above;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While we raise our hearts in love. Refrain

Our ornaments are Handprint/Footprint Angels loosely based off these directions at DLTK's.

December 3 - The Holly & the Ivy

This carol is one that has a familiar tune while the words are a little less known. It is a great lead into Christmas decorating, though, as my kids are now noticing holly and ivy everywhere on Christmas items. The history of the song is similar to other carols since it has been around a while and the words have changed over time (more history here). It is a beautiful song, and a great study for our look at Christmas music.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

The holly and the ivy
Now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

A video we all enjoyed on YouTube -The Winchester Cathedral Choir recorded in 1986

My childrens' ornaments (seen at the top) were constructed with craft foam, glitter craft foam and a pretty paper background.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2 - O Come, O Come Emmanuel

As we continue in our Christmas music study, we focused on a traditional carol reported to be from the early 12th century. Originally this song, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, was written in Latin, and, while I hope to teach my children the Latin in the future, we focused on the English translation done by John Mason Neal in 1851.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Our ornament for today is simply an old key to represent the "Key of David", as taken from the song. This was a fun way to use some old keys, and the kids are excited about having these ornaments when they are older. Here are the four kiddos keys.

Reference site:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1 - Christmas Music Unit Study

Today our focus is on where Christmas music originated. Over at Homeschooling Apropos there is a great write-up about the history of Christmas Carols. Our ornaments for the day are music notes depicting music at Christmas.

Christmas Music Unit Study

In search of a Christmas unit, I figured I would be able to find one online that fit our family and would take some of the guesswork out of the preparations for me. (There is already so much to do at holiday time.) Though, I don't plan on breaking from regular school for Christmas studies, I was wanting something special to do for the days leading up to this special time of year.
Thankfully, I think I have found a perfect fit. At Homeschooling Apropos VegieMama has put together a great unit for studying Christmas music. I especially like the simple craft suggestion of creating ornaments that go along with each day of study.
As we begin this journey here today, December 1, 2009, I hope others also will be encouraged to take time to reflect on the Lord and the coming of His Son to earth.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thirsty Thursday - White Board Schedule

It may seem crazy that something as simple as a white board has brought such joy to my school days, but I finally feel I really look forward to each day of school now. Let me share a bit of our story.

Last year we were in the midst of a basement remodel and finished it up just about the time we started our schoolyear. I was so excited organizing my materials on the new book shelves and felt like I had my schoolroom set. The year started off well enough, but I was often feeling like I didn"t have anywhere to organize our daily routine.

I tried notecards, schedules, and various assundry papers, but I often felt that I was putting more into it than any of us were benefitting from. So, forward a year. Our newly remodeled basement had water damage and needed more work. Back to square one on the classroom, and this time it was pushing the beginning of the schoolyear. We did get it all put back together but in a slightly different arrangment and with added wall space. Finally I was able to hang our stashed whiteboard in a useable location and WOW! what a difference it has made.

With 4 young children, and only two of them doing any independent schoolwork, the white board has made school so much more organized for all of us. I am able to write our schedule out the night before with simple details my older boys can read. Throughout the next day of school, the kids look forward to erasing the board and seeing the subjects completed. At the end of the day the board is wiped clean and ready for the next day's events to be posted.

It keeps us all going and ready for school.
Read more educating encouragements at Five J's.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Littles Learning - The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit

This week for the Littles' Learning we will be using the book, The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit by Susan Lowell. (This is a busier week around the Low house, so the unit this week is a little less invovled =)

Here's our plan for the week:


  • Read The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit. First time through without interruption to hear the whole story.

  • Reread the story, pausing while the Littles line up animal cards (see links below) to help tell the story.

  • Leave the animal cards out to be colored throughout the day.
Materials needed- Crayons, Desert Animals 1 (printed and cut), Desert Animals 2 (printed and cut)


  • Read the story again and ask the children to identify any animals they can remember.
  • Use play dough to create any of the animals they are interested in.

Materials needed- Play dough


  • Practice identifying the beginning phonemes of the animals/plants in the story.
  • Play a guessing game by asking which animal(s) begins with /t/, /j/, /c/, etc.

Materials needed- Animal cards from Monday


  • Discuss the moral of the story, "Slow and steady wins the race".

  • Use library books to learn more about the desert habitat and the animals.

Materials needed- Library books


  • Review the moral of the story and discuss ways we can strive to finish our goals (picking up toys, sharing, helping others, learning, obeying God...).

  • Plan a course for your child to steadily and quickly carry a ping-pong ball on a spoon (i.e. from the fridge to the dining table). Explain again the importance of "slow and steady" versus "with haste". Add more obstacles to add to the challenge (i.e. step over a small stool, go around the chair, etc.).
Materials needed- Spoons, ping-pong balls (or pom-poms)

More Littles Learning to come, next week our book will be one of our family favorites Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School Year 2009-2010

Wow! When I look at the year I just typed I can hardly believe it is going to be 2010. It sounds so futuristic or something.

On other topics, I wanted to share what our plan is for the upcoming year. (This is just a brief overview of curriculum with hopes of posting a schedule in coming days.)

Bible- We are currently reading through an older version of Little Visits With God. We also sing children's songs and learn a new hymn each week. Soon adding Awana and Scripture memory that goes along with that.

Math- We will be continuing with Math-U-See using the Alpha and Beta books for Trout and Trapper.

Language Arts- This is my biggest excitement of the year as we will be starting Spell to Write and Read with Cursive First. I am really looking forward to using this program and hope to see great improvements throughout the year as we all become accustomed to the material

Science- I have chosen to use Sonlight Science Year 1 as there is a lot to gain from this material and it is so appropriate for my children's ages.

Social Studies, History, Geography- My trusty backbone will be the basis of most of our schooling again this year as we use Tapestry of Grace Year 2 to provide a little direction in our school days.

Art- Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes is an excellent resource, but sadly it got a little dusty on the shelf last year. My hope is to wipe away the dust and incorporate more of this material in our school days.

Preschool- I hope to establish a weekly routine of preschool activities for BearHug and Darlin'. We will be using Activities in a Bag Book 2 along with unit studies based on classic and current favorite children's books. Look for more of this in my Little's Learning posts to come.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ever Amazed!

During my time in the Word I am reading through Matthew at random as I find that some days I read a chapter and other days I only read a few verses, but so often I have found incredible things about my Lord that continually draw me closer to Him. I was so excited about today's reading that I wanted to share.

In Matthew 8 Jesus is traveling around teaching and healing. We learn of the faith of the centurion in verses 5-13 of whom Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." But, the passage I found encouraging today is in verses 23-27. Jesus was on a boat amidst a storm with his disciples. The men aboard became frantic and woke Jesus saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
Verse 26 - "He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm."

Now when I read this, I think - the men knew they were in danger, and they knew who to turn to, but Christ still said, "You of little faith,..." When you look at the words they chose, indeed they were afraid of dying, but Jesus was with them and would not allow that to happen.

But...their lack of faith becomes even more evident in the last verse once Jesus Christ has calmed the storm.

Verse 27- "The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'"

The disciples saw their demise, sought the Lord for help, but didn't even expect Him to do all that He did. They seemed to know where to turn, but they were still uncertain of the outcome and therefore demonstrated little faith in the One whom they called.

Now, I know it is easy to look at this passage and wonder over those foolish disciples, but am I any different? Don't I ask with doubt and questions? If indeed my faith were that of but a mustard seed (Matt. 17:20), then I would know the Lord will meet my needs.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20
Praying this encourages you today!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Yogurt -Making

While I may only post infrequently about homemaking, I did want to share this little bit that I enjoy. There is something about being able to make things at home that intrigues me and excites me when my family enjoys the fruits of my labor. One of these things is homemade yogurt.

If you have never made yogurt before, it is relatively easy and definitely cheaper than purchasing store-bought at full price. To make mine I follow these few steps...
  1. Heat 2 quarts 2% milk in a pot to 180 degrees.
  2. Allow milk to cool to 110 degrees
  3. Add 1/2 cup milk to 1/2 cup previously prepared yogurt (store-bought, if needed)
  4. Mix the resulting cup into the remaining 2 quarts and pour into clean glass jars
  5. Place jars in an oven warmed to 110 degrees and maintained by leaving the oven light on
  6. Allow yogurt to set undisturbed until jelled - around 4 hrs for mine
  7. Refrigerate and enjoy for up to two weeks leaving at least 1/2 cup to prepare your next batch
We like to stir in jam or brown sugar to sweeten the yogurt to eat. I also use it for various bread and pancake recipes.

Yogurt is a food item that was first evidenced in the beginning of recorded history and still today benefits those that enjoy it. Hope this encourages you to try some of your own!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What New Books Mean to Me

I know there is so often the talk of Christmas in July, and I am also aware of the fact that most people utilize this time to begin any planning or thinking on the holiday. But, this year Christmas in July really feels like Christmas to me.
Indeed, I have finished my curriculum purchasing for the upcoming year and the materials are beginning to arrive! Seriously, I think this may be more fun than presents. While I may not be celebrating the Lord's birth, I am celebrating the opportunity to share with my children all about the world God has created and the history He has orchestrated in His time. I can't think of anything more exciting than to be able to share this with some of the most precious people in my life, my children.

So off we go in preparations for a new year of learning, growing, and seeking to serve the Lord through the academic pursuits of our household. Praise God for this opportunity!

Friday, July 31, 2009

10th Anniversary!

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, B and I had the opportunity to take a night away. We decided to visit a bed & breakfast in Hannibal, Missouri.

The Garth Woodside Mansion is a beautifully restored historic building from the 1880's that has been turned into a vacation getaway. The owners, John and Julie, are incredibly personable and seem to thoroughly enjoy their guests. The house itself is filled with all kinds of period mementos and the cabins are little islands of luxury for a private and peaceful retreat.

Currently a dinner special is included in the price of a stay at the mansion, so we were treated to a wonderful, complimentary meal. We enjoyed our night away and were so glad to have taken the trip to see a bit of historic America on the Mark Twain Riverboat and at one of Samuel Clemen's favorite respites, the mansion.
Breakfast was excellent as well!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Roman Aquaduct

Our school year has continued throughout the summer this year due to early summer travels, so the kids and I have continued with Tapestry of Grace in the final unit where we are currently learning about Ancient Rome.

At times I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to accomplish all that I want to for the school day when the kids are ready to run outside and play with neighbors (who are out of school for the summer). So, to take a little more laid back approach to our schooling, I try to find ways to make hands-on activities less intensive. This lesson on Roman Aquaducts is a great example. I had all these grandiose ideas of the cardboard/plastic tubing aquaducts we could build, but then...reality hit. The mess, the time, the work (mostly done by Mama). It just wouldn't be worth it, so in lieu of the elaborate structure we could build we did the next best things- the Marble Maze.

As you can see in the image, we did assemble it in a linear fashion similar to an actual aquaduct, and indeed it did carry water from the bathtub spout to the red holding tank at the end. They boys thought it was great and proceeded to run marbles in their new waterslide before excitedly running outside to play with their friends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brand New Blogs

Do you ever look at all those blogs out there and wonder to yourself how everyone else has been blogging forever? Their blogs are beautiful, they have all kinds of widgets, post upon post of logical and wise information for us to glean from. Well, while I have had other blogs before this one, I am in the baby phase of starting on a new adventure in my homeschooling with this blog. I want to share (and to be heard) by other moms that feel the same way I do - mostly overwhelmed and trying to accomplish too much.

Now, I'm coming to find you. Are you a new blog author wanting to share your thoughts and ideas while still working out all the kinks? Are you a homeschooling mom looking to be heard and understood? I'd love to share in this journey with you. Add your site below and I'll come check it out.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Late Readers

I have had the opportunity to read a few of Raymond and Dorothy Moore's books, but by far the one that has had the most impact on me is Better Late Than Early. I first read this book a couple years ago before starting schooling on a regular basis with my children. I have heard that boys can be a little slower with reading in the beginning, and I feel I have prepared myself for this...then pressures begin to build.
My now 7 yo, Trapper, is displaying all the traditional signs of a later-to-learn reader. He knows the "rules" and is even able to read when he wants to, but getting him to read a cereal box is a challenge. Whenever I begin questioning myself on this subject I begin looking for those whom have walked this path ahead of me. God is gracious indeed!
Just minutes ago I came across this article by Annette MacKay. In the article she shares her own sons journey through a slow start in reading. While this is an older reference the material is still true today, and I look forward to taking it "slow & gentle".

Homeschool Blogging

I have attempted to start a blog before this about family and life, but abadoned ship as it was not working at that time. I continue to feel that I am learning so much that I would like to share, though, in my family's homeschooling journey, that I think I will try again. My hope is that this will be avenue to share some of the things I find and learn as I go with the hope that there may be some who will benefit from it. Praying the Lord leads in this new endeavor.